• Hello Again

It’s been a while since Apple unveiled a new MacBook Pro. In fact, we haven’t seen an update to the company’s high-end laptop line since May 2015, when the Force Touch-equipped 15in model appeared.

Basically, it’s high time Tim Cook and friends coughed up new 13in and 15in MacBook Pros – and a few choice leaks and rumours are already shaping our thoughts on what form these might take.

Read on and we’ll give you the lowdown on everything we know, and everything we think we know, about the 2016 range of MacBook Pros. And make sure to check back regularly, as we'll be updating this article as new leaks and rumours emerge.

New MacBook Pro 2016 design: thinner, lighter and OLED-ier

A Bloomberg News report claims that the new MacBook Pro models will have a smaller footprint than their current counterparts, while often-reliable tech industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the new models will offer a dramatic overhaul of the current design, starting off with a thinner and lighter build.

At the end of May, Cult of Mac obtained images that purportedly showed the new MacBook’s chassis. Notice that there are no function keys at the top of the keyboard? That’s apparently because they will be replaced by a long, narrow OLED touchpad.

This colour touchpad would allow the user to customise the function keys, as well as display helpful information, like the current song you’re playing on Spotify, or the temperature outside; it may also provide functions traditionally provided by keyboard shortcuts, such as cut and paste controls if you’re currently using a word processor. If it’s really happening, this touch panel could well end up being the big USP that Apple uses to push its new laptops.

The spy shots also show the side of the chassis, suggesting there’ll be four USB-C ports (two on each side). That’ll be much easier to live with than the single USB-C port on the recently-released MacBook. The only other connection on the device appears to be a headphone jack.

Above is a concept of how the OLED bar might look, courtesy of designer Martin Hajek. He has many more excellent renders at his site, which are well worth checking out.

The other big design addition looks set to be a power button incorporating a Touch ID fingerprint scanner – something that both Bloomberg and 9to5Mac’s sources say is definitely happening. Fingerprint scanners are nothing new on laptops, so this seems like a logical design decision for Apple to make in order to enhance security and allow users to authenticate purchases made using Apple Pay.

As for looks, there have been suggestions that new colour options may be offered, with grey, gold and silver being the choices.

Update 25/10/16: Doh! As reported by MacRumors, a new update for macOS Sierra contains two hidden Apple Pay images that show off the new MacBook Pro - and confirm the existence of the long-rumoured OLED touch panel. The touch panel features an integrated Touch ID fingerprint scanner that can be used to authorise payments (and presumably replace password entry when signing into the MacBook or installing new apps). Oh, and there's no Escape key on the keyboard either. 

New MacBook Pro 2016 power: pump it up

Being that the MacBook Pro is Apple’s “high performance” laptop, we’d expect an upgrade in processor, RAM, storage and graphics. But there aren’t many rumours from the supply chain as to what form any of these might take.

Bloomberg claims one higher-end option in the range will feature a new AMD Polaris GPU, which offers high efficiency in a low-profile format – perfect for a thin laptop.

Update 15/09/2016: Fresh from removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone, could Apple be planning on doing the same with the MacBook Pro? 

It seems incredibly unlikely at first - like, a really, really stupid decision - but Apple is certainly considering it. The company has apparently been sending out questionnaires to MacBook Pro users (via Blake A. on Twitter) asking whether or not they actually use the headphone port on their laptop.

Apple's assault on common sense may not be over quite yet, it seems. But how could the company cater for headphone users without a 3.5mm jack? A Lightning port? Or a reliance on wireless Bluetooth headsets? We don't want to find out, to be honest - just leave the blasted thing there, please.

The model it's going to replace

New MacBook Pro 2016 release date

Hello Again

UPDATE 19/10/16: It's happening! Apple has sent out media invitations to an event next Thursday, 27 October, and the "Hello Again" tagline is a clear throwback to the marketing slogan Apple used with the iMac years ago, which itself revived the original "Hello" of the first Macintosh.

The event falls right into the late October target we've heard for a while now, and the official invites came just after a fresh wave of reports claiming that the event was imminent. In just a week, we should finally see a significant MacBook Pro refresh after a few years of the same design. As ever, we'll have all the details as soon as they're announced.

UPDATE 29/09/16: According to a report by MacRumors, all evidence is pointing towards a late October launch for the new MacBook Pro line-up. The evidence, the report says, is the fact that Apple is pushing to release a new version of macOS Sierra (10.12.1) by the end of the first week of October.

This update to the Mac OS is rumoured to add support for the MacBook Pro's new hardware features - stuff like Touch ID and the OLED touch bar, perhaps - and, if finished by the end of next week, will be ready for loading onto the 2016 MacBook Pros in time for a late October on-sale date. Fingers crossed.

ORIGINAL STORY: According to Bloomberg News, while Apple is already said to be in the “advanced testing” phase of these new machines, we shouldn't expect to see them unveiled at September’s iPhone 7 launch event; Apple will instead launch its MacBook Pros later, in the fourth quarter of 2016. December is too late in the year to launch a new product, so if we had to guess, this will happen in October or November.

Apple may launch a new 12in MacBook model alongside these, too; the plan, apparently, is for this to be the new mid-level Apple notebook offering, with the MacBook Air becoming the entry-level option and the MacBook Pro the high-end choice.

Apple doesn’t always feel the need to hold a special event for product updates – they are often simply announced by a press release – but if the company believes there are important new features that would benefit from a big glitzy reveal, it may well invite the press to a live unveiling.