Apple adding ports back to MacBook Pro is like a new dawn for the notebook

16-inch MacBook Pro vs. 13-inch vs. Air
16-inch MacBook Pro vs. 13-inch vs. Air (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Today saw a fresh round of rumors courtesy of analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. No, Kuo wasn't talking about an iPhone. Or an iPad. He was talking about the MacBook Pro lineup and what they believe will be the return of not just one port, but two.

Yes, a MacBook Pro refresh is set to see the return of the HDMI port and SD card slot. And the world rejoiced.

In a new research note seen by iMore, Kuo says Apple plans to launch two new MacBook Pro models in the second half of 2021, both with an all-new design and increased connectivity. Kuo states Apple will bring back the SD card slot and HDMI interface, echoing previous reports. The report also states the new Macs will have USB-C as well as high-speed USB 4.0 upgrades.

We can only assume that we will also see a next-generation Apple silicon implementation as well, taking the powerhouse M1 and improving upon it. The result could well be a new dawn for the MacBook Pro family. One that could see it being the kind of machine people lust after once again. The powerhouse we've been waiting for. Especially at the 16-inch end of the lineup.

Things haven't been great for MacBook Pro fans in recent years. We saw machines with power-hungry Intel CPUs that needed to be put into a fridge to run properly. We also saw the arrival of the Touch Bar, something that's thought to be on its way out this year. Not to mention the farce that was more than a couple of horrendous keyboards. Oh, and Apple's pro machines lost all of the ports pros want, if not need, as part of the "improvements."

But things are looking up. As mentioned, the Touch Bar is expected to be nixed soon. The keyboards are, thankfully, already fixed. The ports seem to be coming back and Apple silicon not only makes Macs run faster than anything Intel can manage, but it does it without toasting laps in the process.

If Kuo is indeed right – and he might not be – this next MacBook Pro refresh could be the start of something beautiful. It could be the return of the MacBook Pro notebooks we actually want to buy. Not just those that we have to buy because they run Final Cut Pro etc.

Bring it on. My wallet is ready!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • I absolutely LOVE the Touch Bar and I am worried to death that Apple will get rid of it. I desperately hope that Apple does not reject this truly innovative feature and instead would at least offer it as an option.
  • The Touch Bar should die, but in its place a touch screen should replace it instead. Also with the latest M1 processors being able to run iOS apps now, then a non touch screen MacBook is still useless when running many iOS apps. Think about it, iOS apps are all designed with a touch screen in mind.
  • This is such a ridiculous article. The Touch Bar is great. I can't support adding back an SD card slot since SD cards are on the way out, being replaced by CFExpress. Now if the slot does both SD cards and CFExpress Type A, like Sony's new A1 mirrorless camera (over $6K) then I'm all for it. But just SD? No. They're slow, they're fragile, and they are slow. Ports? Two ports are just fine if they each get a Thunderbolt controller like the M1 MacBook Pro/Air. Why? Because they have the same total bandwidth as four ports on Intel MaBook Pros, because two ports are sharing one controller. Get a hub and you can have more ports than a four-port MacBook Pro. All in all, the hot take here is hot air. (So, how do you like others speaking their opinions as if they are absolute and you're talking for everybody? Not ideal, huh?)
  • Wow, you live in a closed world. Micro SD cards are far from their way out, especially when not only a lot of professional cameras use them, but the IoT industry is thriving off of them. Its obvious you don't do anything in the IoT area. Look at some Arduino boards, ESP32 boards, or a number of other micro controllers, or many SBCs (single board computers) live off micro SD cards. Have you heard of a Raspberry Pi? You can't even boot from one unless you have a micro SD card. I always looked at the latest Macbooks and said how can you call something a pro, when you have add a ton of dongles to make it do the things you want.
  • You don't have to add tons of Dongles. Just one dock. I can think of two things people typically connect to their Mac (or PC) when they are out and about, other than the power. Both are storage. For an external drive, get one with a USB C cable. The other is some sort of flash card, typically from a camera. When Macs had SD slots you needed some adapter for CF or microSD anyway, so it didn't fit every one. So we are really talking about one dongle/adapter. Big deal. Maybe some also connect cameras, mics, graphics pads or whatnot, but if you are carrying all that detritus, a little dock wouldn't even be noticed. Actually I wouldn't even complain about an SD slot, but why HDMI? Just get a USB C to HDMI cable instead of an HDMI to HDMI, if that is a frequent requirement. It's still a cable.
  • It is great to see Apple being responsive to its user base. This all hinges on how they bring HDMI back. If it is a full size port, then this is news. If it is a micro HDMI port as some commentators have predicted, it's a debacle because you might as well carry a USB-C to HDMI adapter as a micro HDMI to HDMI. As for the disdain for the SD card slot, when you look at the Wiki article on CFExpress cards, there area whopping 8 cameras (through Feb. 2021) that support CFE - I think Apple is more then safe in sticking with an SD card slot on the new Pros. Last but not least, kicking the Touch Bar to the curb is the completion of fixing the keyboard nightmare that was the butterfly keyboard; even Apple did nothing to enhance, much less utilize, the Touch Bar.
  • Why is carrying an HDMI to HDMI cable different than carrying a USB C to HDMI cable or a micro HDMI to HDMI cable. You carry the cable you need. It's still a cable. If you figure you don't need to carry one because they'll have an HDMI cable when you get there, trust me, that's a bad idea.