From www.digitaltrends.com

An open MacBook Pro on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

With the launch of the M4 iPad Pro, you might be wondering when the M4 chip will come to the MacBook Pro. Is it following hot on the heels of Apple’s flagship iPad, or will we have a significant wait before Apple’s laptop gets an upgrade?

We’ve scoured the rumor mill to find the answer, as well as worked out what sort of performance, features, and designs we can expect. If you’re interested in learning more about the upcoming M4 MacBook Pro, you’re in the right place.

A woman using a MacBook Pro in a studio.
Apple

Despite the recent unveiling of the M4 iPad Pro, a MacBook Pro equipped with Apple’s newest chip isn’t expected for quite some time. Don’t be surprised if we don’t see anything until much later this year.

According to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, the first M4 MacBook Pro could launch around the end of 2024. Apple typically holds an October or November event to announce Mac updates, so that seems like a likely window for launch. This would be the entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro, Gurman predicts, and it might even appear alongside a new 24-inch iMac. It’s been predicted that Apple would also launch its high-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with the M4 Pro and M4 Max chips, but again, timing is uncertain.

As for the price, an increase here is definitely possible, albeit by no means guaranteed. Apple has taken to bumping up the prices of its MacBook Pro models in recent years, and we could see the same again for the M4 generation.

However, display industry expert Ross Young says he’s “surprised the OLED iPad Pros are priced as low as they are given the high price of the tandem OLED panels, along with a costly M4 chip.” While we aren’t expecting an OLED display in the next MacBook Pro, an M4 chip is a certainty, and its extra capabilities could lead Apple to bump the price of its laptops by a small amount (perhaps around $100). That’s all speculation for now, though.

Performance

Halo running on a MacBook Pro.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Since the iPad Pro now comes with an M4 chip, we can learn a few things about what sort of performance and specs we might see when the M4 lands in the MacBook Pro compared to the M3. The iPad Pro’s M4, for instance, has a 10-core CPU, a 10-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine. Those specs are likely to be the same in the MacBook Pro.

At its Let Loose event on May 7, Apple also announced that the M4 is made using a second-generation 3nm process that “further advances the power efficiency of Apple silicon.” That should enable the next MacBook Pro to increase its performance without getting too hot under the collar.

In terms of the iPad Pro, Apple says that the M4’s CPU is 1.5 times faster than that found in the M2, while the GPU boasts four times faster rendering performance than the M2. It also comes with dynamic caching, ray tracing, and hardware-accelerated mesh shading, all technologies that could give a notable boost to Mac gaming performance. Given that the MacBook Pro is expected to also get the M4 chip, these are improvements and performance features we could see in Apple’s laptop.

However, there’s no indication yet of what we can expect from the more advanced chips in the M4 lineup: the M4 Pro, M4 Max and M4 Ultra. We’ll have to wait until Apple shares more details on those.

We do know that the vast improvement to the Neural Engine will be responsible for handling a lot of the on-device AI features. This could make them faster than the cloud-based processing that will be needed for MacBooks with less AI capabilities.

Features

Apple MacBook Pro 16 downward view showing keyboard and speaker.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Intriguingly, the iPad Pro’s M4 chip comes with a built-in display engine that Apple says is used to “drive the stunning precision, color, and brightness” of the tablet’s OLED display. Given the MacBook Pro will use the same M4 chip — with the same display engine — does this mean an OLED display is coming to the MacBook Pro?

Perhaps, but don’t expect it any time soon. The latest predictions put the release date of the rumored OLED MacBook Pro anywhere between 2025 and 2027, so there’s still a while to go before Apple’s flagship laptop gets that long-awaited upgrade. But having a dedicated display engine in the M4 chip hints that it’ll arrive eventually.

Elsewhere, we’d like to think the M4 MacBook Pro will come with more than 8GB of memory as a starting point, as that currently makes the M3 model a tough sell. But we’re not holding out much hope for that based on what we’ve seen in the iPad Pro, where the 256GB and 512GB models reportedly come with 8GB of memory. As the memory is built right into the M4 chip itself, it’s likely that the M4 MacBook Pro will also start with just 8GB.

On the battery front, chances are that this will stay roughly the same as it is right now. The current M3 MacBook Pro offers up to 22 hours of video playback and 15 hours of web browsing, according to Apple, and this could be the case with the M4 MacBook Pro. Apple tends to keep the battery output of its Apple silicon laptops roughly the same over generations, preferring instead to increase performance. The M4 iPad Pro has the same 10-hour battery life as its predecessor, reinforcing this idea.

Design

The MacBook Pro on a wooden table.
Digital Trends

There’s not been much talk of design changes coming to the M4 MacBook Pro, but if anything does happen, we doubt it will be major. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the next MacBook Pro’s design was exactly the same as the current M3 model’s.

New colors would be a welcome addition, though, and we certainly can’t rule them out. Yet, there’s been no news on that front just yet. There’s also been talk of an increase in the number or speed of the MacBook Pro’s Thunderbolt ports (spotted by Wccftech), although at the moment, it seems to be pure speculation.

More broadly speaking, the latest MacBook Pro redesign happened in 2021, which isn’t that long ago in Apple’s timeline. The company redesigned its MacBook Pros in 2012, 2016 and 2021, and by that measure, the next one will probably happen around 2025 or 2026. So don’t get too excited for a chassis overhaul this year.

Looking slightly further ahead, the OLED MacBook Pro is a more likely candidate for a design change. Not only is it likely to fall within the date range mentioned above, but the tandem OLED panel Apple used in the M4 iPad Pro allowed that device to become noticeably thinner. If Apple uses the same tech in the MacBook Pro — and given how expensive this tech would have been to research, we’re betting that it will — we might see a slightly thinner MacBook Pro when the OLED panel makes its debut in Apple’s laptop. That’s an idea backed by both Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who believe Apple aims to slim down a significant number of its products (including the MacBook Pro) over the next few years. That’s probably a bit too far out for the M4 MacBook Pro, though.

Software

Apple's Craig Federighi discussing Apple Intelligence at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024.
Apple

We shouldn’t just focus on the hardware, as the M4 MacBook Pro is due for some pretty significant software upgrades too. For instance, there’s Apple Intelligence, the AI platform that Apple revealed at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2024. This is being infused right through Apple’s operating systems — for example, it lets the Mail app categorize your emails and rewrite them using a different tone of voice, and adds image generation and audio transcription tools to make working with media a little easier. Siri is also due for a major overhaul thanks to Apple Intelligence, and this update could mark the largest revamp in Siri’s history.

Apple Intelligence is due to land in macOS Sequoia, which itself is due out around October (it’s currently in beta). Aside from Apple Intelligence, macOS Sequoia is set to include a range of new features for the M4 MacBook Pro (and any other Mac that can run it), including iPhone mirroring, window tiling controls, a new Passwords app, and more.

However, it’s worth noting that Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman believes that some Apple Intelligence features won’t launch until 2025, so they might not arrive in time for the launch of the M4 MacBook Pro. That includes Siri’s ability to gain contextual awareness of what you’re doing on your device and to control your apps, such as editing a photo. then emailing it to a friend. Other features, like Mail’s email sorting and the Swift Assist companion for Xcode, might drop in 2024, but after the M4 MacBook Pro launches.

Lastly, there have been rumors that an Apple Intelligence+ suite of advanced AI features could launch at some point, which would be a paid software bundle. That’s still just a rumor, so we don’t yet know if it would require the more capable Neural Engine that the M4 provides or not.

[ For more curated Apple news, check out the main news page here]

The post M4 MacBook Pro: rumored release date, performance, and more | Digital Trends first appeared on www.digitaltrends.com

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