Apple's "Scary Fast" event is later today, and we expect to see the next generation of Apple Silicone. The M3 will be Apple's first 3nm (nanometer) chip for its computers, and we're very excited to see what the company has in store.
We expect to see updates to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, and while the 13-inch will most likely get updated for M3 further down the line, it's less likely to be today.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro divides opinion — some believe it has no place in a lineup that already has the 13-inch MacBook Air in it. Others think an entry-level MacBook Pro is good for business, hence the debate.
While it may not be at today's Apple event, the M3 13-inch MacBook Pro is surely coming. And here's everything you need to know about it.
Apple M3 13-inch MacBook Pro: The headlines
- What is it? An upgraded version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro that's now been around for a couple of years
- When can we expect it? It is unlikely to be revealed during Apple's October event
- Rumored new features: M3 Apple silicon chip
- Are there any surprises? Unless it ships sooner or later than expected, little new is likely to come to this particular model
M3 13-inch MacBook Pro: Release date rumors
When it comes to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, very little is actually known about what this laptop will be. The M3 chip seems a given at this point, with Apple having settled into a pattern that puts its entry-level chip into a new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air each time out. That happened with the M2 MacBook Pro and M2 MacBook Air, so there is little reason why it won't happen with the M3, too.
Apple is hosting an event on October 30 where M3 is expected to debut alongside new devices, likely including this M3 MacBook Pro, but we don't expect to see a 13-inch M3 MacBook Pro just yet.
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All of this is to say that nobody really seems to know what Apple's plans are. Gurman seems to suggest that the M3 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros could launch first, which would be odd. Those machines will surely use M3 Pro and M3 Max chips and it would be strange for Apple to launch those before the core M3 model.
M3 13-inch MacBook Pro: Features and specifications
If Apple follows its expected pattern, the M3 13-inch MacBook Pro will essentially be the same as the M2 version but with that upgraded chip transplanted in. Few design changes, if any, are expected.
That means it's all about the M3, and based on Gurman's previous information we can expect it to have eight CPU cores with 10 GPU cores included. The clock speeds of those cores aren't yet known, but four of those CPU cores are likely to be performance ones with the remaining four handling low-power tasks. It seems likely the laptop will stick with 8GB of RAM, too, but it will surely be configurable beyond that point if required. It's worth remembering that the 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at 16GB so that might be a better option if you need more RAM. The same goes for the 256GB of SSD storage — the MacBook Pro comes with 512GB as standard.
Upgraded M3 Pro and M3 Max chips will offer more cores, but they're unlikely to come anywhere near the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Beyond silicon, a 13-inch Retina display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution is likely to make a return from the previous model, while we can hope for an increase over the current 500-nit brightness. P3 wide color and True Tone technology are a given, too. The one potential change is the arrival of a notch, like the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros. But that seems unlikely — that notch is one way that Apple currently differentiates its entry-level MacBook Pro from the more capable ones.
M3 13-inch MacBook Pro: What we want to see
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a strange machine. Priced at $1,299, it costs more than the almost identically-specced 13-inch MacBook Air. With that in mind, we're not 100% sure why it exists beyond giving people a way to buy a "Pro" laptop without spending $1,999 on a 14-inch MacBook Pro. But that's a better machine in every respect.
All of that being said, there are some ways we think Apple could make the 13-inch MacBook Pro a more compelling prospect for buyers. These aren't necessarily things we expect. But they'd sure be nice to get.
A cheaper starting price
It's a running theme throughout every Apple lineup — we'd like all of the entry-level models to get cheaper. Who likes paying more?
The 13-inch MacBook Pro would be a difficult laptop not to recommend if it could hit that magic $999 price point. The MacBook Air is the obvious wrinkle in that plan, but we'd like to see that get cheaper, too. If $999 is out of the question, why not make the 13-inch MacBook Air that price and drop the 13-inch MacBook Pro to something closer to the Air's current $1,099?
Come on Apple, these laptops need to get cheaper. If an M2 Mac mini can sell for $599, why can't the laptops get cheaper? At the very least upgrade the specs if the price can't come down.
That gives us a great segue into storage...
Storage. It's a problem through every base model within Apple's lineups — apart from the 256GB iPhone 15 Pro Max, perhaps — because there just isn't enough of it.
The M2 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at 256GB of storage which, while perhaps fine (if not good) in a MacBook Air, simply isn't enough in something calling itself a Pro machine.
The M3 chip used in the 13-inch MacBook Pro has an upgraded 10-core GPU compared to the same chip used in those MacBook Airs. Apple positions this laptop as a machine to be used by professionals and professionals work with some big files. ask any videographer or photographer how much storage they need and they'll say that they never have enough. 256GB is far from it.
Sure, there's the argument that they'll have large RAID arrays in the office and external SSDs hanging off Thunderbolt 4 docks like the excellent Caldigit TS4. But laptops are for taking on the road. And that external storage isn't going with them
Ports have long been a bone of contention for Mac laptop owners and Apple finally brought them back with the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros. But the 13-inch MacBook Pro was left out of that design meeting, it seems.
The M2 version on sale today comes with a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. And that's it.
We'd like to see that expanded. Thunderbolt 4 would be nice, although the differences between the two aren't huge. You'll need Thunderbolt 4 for 100W charging, but that isn't likely to be part of this laptop's spec anyway.
If this really is the Pro machine the name claims, we'd like to see an SDXC card slot added to the mix. The bigger Pro models have it, so why doesn't the 13-inch?
HDMI would be a nice-to-have as well, but maybe we're being greedy now.
M3 13-inch MacBook Pro: Price
Buying the 256GB 13-inch MacBook Pro today will set you back $1,299 and there haven't been any rumors to suggest that will change next time out. We'd like it to, but it might not.
The price soon increases when you choose more RAM or storage. Apple offers a preconfigured 512GB SSD upgrade for $1,499 and you can increase the price further (and quickly) by adding more RAM. But again, you start to get into 14-inch MacBook Pro territory when you do that.
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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.
- John-Anthony DisottoHow To Editor