M4 MacBook Pro: Everything you need to know

M4 MacBook Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s M3 chip is now firmly cemented in the Mac lineup, and all of Apple’s best MacBooks now offer some variety of M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max options. However, the pace of Apple silicon’s advance has been phenomenal, and just months after the unveiling of the M3 chip, we’re already starting to hear some exciting things about Apple’s M4 chip, and an all-new M4 MacBook Pro.

According to reports in early 2024, Apple is planning to move its Mac lineup to an annual refresh cycle, just like its best iPhones. To that end, the company is planning to unveil the M4 Apple silicon chip before the end of 2024, and Apple’s M4 MacBook Pro is expected to be the very first Mac to get the new chip alongside a new M4 iMac. 

Apple’s major MacBook redesigns are significantly less frequent than internal changes, which means the 2024 M4 MacBook Pro might well look very similar to the current M3 MacBook Pro lineup. It’s also likely that Apple will continue to offer broadly the same model lineup as the M3 range, having so recently settled on a new configuration of three chips, and two sizes. 

So what could all of that mean for the M4 MacBook Pro, tipped for launch at the end of the year? Here’s everything you need to know. 

M4 MacBook Pro: Release date

M3 MacBook Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s brand new M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max MacBook Pro models came out on October 30, 2023, the third Apple silicon MacBook Pro launch since 2020. Perhaps more surprisingly, it was the second MacBook Pro launch in less than 12 months, the M2 Pro and M2 Max lineup having graced Apple Stores in January 2023. 

It seems clear that Apple is turning up the dial on Mac launches, with more products and fewer significant changes, just like its other product lines. We’ve been told to expect that a new M4 MacBook Pro could debut as early as the end of 2024. According to a leak from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in April, Apple is planning an accelerated Mac makeover which will begin with the new M4 MacBook Pro, and an update to the M3 iMac. Specifically, Gurman says Apple will announce “A low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M4, coming around the end of 2024.” 

We’ll discuss models in more detail below, but Apple is likely going to release multiple models of a new M4 MacBook Pro. That includes both 14 and 16-inch versions of its higher-end M4 Pro and M4 Max variants. Gurman says those are due “between the end of 2024 and early 2025.” This doesn’t preclude all three being released at the same time, which seems more likely as that’s the format Apple chose in 2023. Apple could take yearly upgrades to its natural conclusion and announce these at the end of October. November is also a likely shout, with Apple having announced Macs at events or otherwise in both months previously. 

M4 MacBook Pro: Models

M3 MacBook Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

With the advent of the base model M3 MacBook Pro, Apple seems to have found a model configuration that works very well. Three models in two sizes. Apple’s current offering lends users the choice of either a 14 or 16-inch chassis, and three total processor options, M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. The only caveat is that the base-model M3 version only comes in one size, 14 inches. Having so recently tweaked that lineup significantly — ditching the 13-inch MacBook Pro for a larger, more potent base model — it seems unlikely that Apple would overhaul its MacBook lineup again. While we could have made an educated guess about the lineup, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has given us a good look at the roadmap and the expected models coming. The expected model rundown is as follows:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
SizeRow 0 - Cell 1 Row 0 - Cell 2 Row 0 - Cell 3
14-inch MacBook ProM4M4 Pro M4 Max
16-inch MacBook ProRow 2 - Cell 1 M4 ProM4 Max

M4 MacBook Pro: M4 chip

M3 MacBook Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

You can find everything you need to know about the M4 chip in our full rundown, however, it's safe to say that this is expected to be one of the biggest jumps in Apple silicon performance so far. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the biggest rumors and expected changes. 

Apple’s M3 lineup pivoted to a 3nm process that packs in more transistors into the same space. Denser chips improve processing and efficiency without taking up more space. Apple’s main supply chain partner TSMC is expected to adopt a slightly updated process dubbed 3NE. The new process offers very slight overall performance improvements over the current 3nm process M3 uses, with TSMC promising “better power, performance, and density.” 

A report in February claimed that both Apple’s A18 chip and the M4 Apple silicon chip would see “significant“ increases in both the number and performance of the processors in M4, as well as a significant increase in the number of built-in AI computing cores. That means we can expect big improvements not just to CPU and GPU core counts, but also to the Neural Engine. 

As it stands, the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips offer ever-increasing numbers of CPU and GPU cores, as well as boosted Unified memory in both bandwidth and capacity. Here’s the starting lineup for the M3 chip range:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ChipCPU coresGPU coresUnified Memory
M38108GB, 16GB, 24GB
M3 Pro121818GB, 36GB
M3 Max164036GB, 48GB, 64GB, 96GB, 128GB

Apple has continued to add CPU and GPU cores to each passing M-series chip, so it seems likely that M4 will continue this trend. 

M4 MacBook Pro: Design

M3 MacBook Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

Apple solidified its MacBook Pro design with the 2021 version of its MacBook Pro. While Apple often releases new MacBook Pro models every year, the broader design language tends to last for five or even six years at a time.  Apple’s iconic unibody aluminum MacBook Pro took us from late 2008 to late 2011, despite getting six refreshes during its lifetime. Similarly, the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are still quite fresh design-wise, so we wouldn’t expect any significant changes or tweaks to the MacBook Pro’s design for 2024, and there are no rumors to suggest otherwise.  

M4 MacBook Pro: Display

Apple MacBook Pro display

(Image credit: Apple)

One of the best features of the current MacBook Pro lineup is its Liquid Retina XDR display. Pumping out 3024-by-1964 native resolution at 254 PPI and 3456-by-2234 native resolution at 254 PPI respectively, both the 14 and 16-inch models of the MacBook Pro offer a 1 million to one contrast ratio, and 1600 nits of peak HDR brightness powered by mini-LED. 

The big upgrade to look out for this year might be OLED. Apple is expected to unveil a new M3 iPad Pro with OLED in May. Meantime, we’ve been hearing lots of rumblings about the prospect of a future OLED MacBook Pro. However, the leaks and rumors are all so scattered that it's impossible to pin down a good timeframe. One recent report from February 2024 indicated that the new OLED Macbook Pro was still years away, with a reveal tipped for 2027. 

However, in December the OLED MacBook was tipped for a 2025 launch, while a report in November said the upgrade was coming 2026.

All of this seems to suggest that OLED is really too far away from the MacBook to make an appearance as early as the end of this year. An OLED MacBook certainly seems like a clear path Apple will choose for the future, and the MacBook Pro is the obvious choice for the first recipient of such an upgrade. However, Apple’s existing mini-LED lineup already offers some of the best displays of any notebook out there. While OLED would offer better contrast and black levels, a more important benefit would likely be the advantage of thinner displays which could reduce the MacBook Pro lineup's overall thickness and weight.

M4 MacBook Pro: Memory and Storage

M3 MacBook Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

Apple continues to offer some really hefty configuration options for its MacBook Pro models in 2024, each with eye-watering price tags to match. Apple’s M3 MacBook Pro comes with 8GB, 16GB, or 24GB of RAM along with storage of up to 2TB. The M3 Pro models offers up to 36GB of memory, while the M3 Max version can go all the way up to 128 GB. Apple’s M4 chip could likely add even more memory to the mix later this year, or perhaps more memory bandwidth. The biggest pressing need here, however, is a starting configuration of 16GB. While Apple claims that 8GB is still plenty of memory for most users who want a base model, it seems to defy logic that this is an option in 2024. Drawing a line under 8GB MacBook Pro models would be one of the biggest steps the M4 MacBook could make for 2024. 

M4 MacBook Pro: Connectivity

M3 MacBook Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

After eschewing all of its ports for USB-C slots a few years back, Apple finally made MacBooks useful again by bringing back HDMI and SDXC slots in 2021. With no design changes expected, Apple’s connectivity support is likely to go unchanged for 2024. Apple already offers all of the ports a MacBook Pro users could need including Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, and even a headphone jack. As it stands, there are no current reports of any connectivity changes coming to the M4 MacBook Pro.  

M4 MacBook Pro: Price

M3 MacBook Pro review

(Image credit: Future)

With a new starting price of $1,599, the M3 MacBook Pro lineup is arguably more affordable than it has been in previous years. The theme of the M4 MacBook Pro upgrade for 2024 overall is a slight tweak to performance in M4 and not much else. As such, we’d expect many of the MacBook Pro’s features and specs to remain broadly the same, if not identical. As such, the M4 MacBook Pro 14-inch is likely to retail at the same $1,599 price tag as its predecessor. Likewise, the 14-inch Macbook Pro will likely be $1,999, and the 16-inch model will start at $2,499. With no major upgrades or design changes, there’s no clear reason to indicate Apple would increase the price of its MacBook Pro lineup at all. Furthermore, Apple’s MacBook Pro models are incredibly expensive, and pushing the price up further would likely have customers looking elsewhere.  

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9