Rumor: First ARM Mac to be a 12-inch MacBook with butterfly keyboard and possibly 5G

12-inch MacBook, Apple, 2017
12-inch MacBook, Apple, 2017 (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

What you need to know

  • Apple might announce a transition to ARM-based Macs at WWDC.
  • A prominent leaker has revealed what they think of Apple's plans.
  • They've suggested the first ARM Mac could be the 12-inch MacBook

Prominent Apple leaker 'Fudge' has said that they expect the first ARM-powered Mac from Apple to be a revamped 12-inch MacBook.

In a lengthy reddit post, Fudge gave a 'TED talk' on Apple and ARM-powered MacBooks, charting the history of the development and rumors from 2014/15 through the present day and beyond. The rumor comes from 'Stage 3' of the discourse which states:

Stage 3 involves the first version of at least one fully ARM-powered Mac into Apple's computer lineup.

I expect this will come in the form of the previously-retired 12" MacBook. There are rumors that Apple is still working internally to perfect the infamous Butterfly keyboard, and there are also signs that Apple is developing an A14x based processors with 8-12 cores designed specifically for use as the primary processor in a Mac. It makes sense that this model could see the return of the Butterfly keyboard, considering how thin and light it is intended to be, and using an A14x processor would make it will be a very capable, very portable machine, and should give customers a good taste of what is to come.

Fudge says that it is not "entirely known" whether the 12-inch form factor will be amended at all, or about the number of cores or ports on the MacBook. Fudge does however say that they have heard rumors of a 12-inch MacBook that supports 5G cellular connectivity natively thanks to the A14 processor.

Fudge says a 12-inch MacBook would be "the perfect stepping stone", as Apple's ARM processors aren't ready to replace Intel's high-end offerings needed for Apple's MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro lineup. Fudge says that because of the disparity in mobile vs desktop processor performance, there isn't enough real-world data to show how well (or not) ARM-Macs might work compared to Intel-powered solutions.

The other interesting feature of this rumor is the return of the dreaded butterfly keyboard, which Apple finally killed off with the 13-inch MacBook Pro earlier this year. According to Fudge, "Apple is still working internally to perfect" the system.

Recent rumors have suggested that Apple plans to announce the shift to ARM Macs at WWDC, but because developers need time to prepare, the first product won't hit shelves until several months or even a year later.

You can read the full post here.

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