Listen, I know there are Mac aficionados who will argue that there are far more important Macs. Podcaster Jason Snell even devoted an entire 20-episode podcast
to the most notable Macs.
You can make a case for any number of the computers Apple has launched since the original Macintosh in 1984. The G3 iMac, for example. Even the G4 iMac. The 2010 MacBook Air. All of those have an important place in the history of the Mac.
I get it. I know that it’s a bold claim, but hear me out. I think it’s one worth making because of what it means for Apple as a company.
Here’s the thing–for Apple, the next laptop is likely to be a MacBook Pro. More specifically, it’s probably going to be a 14-inch version of the smaller MacBook Pro. I suppose Apple could announce both 14- and 16-inch models, but the 14-inch is the one that I’m most interested in here.
Of course, I’m making an assumption that Apple is getting ready to launch a 14-inch laptop. That’s not the only assumption I’m making, either. I also assume it will have the M1X, as will the 16-inch model. Finally, I’m banking on the idea that the new version will have more ports. There are rumors that it may even have HDMI and an SD card slot.
I definitely could be wrong about any of those assumptions, but the one that seems the most likely–that it will have the M1X processor–is the one that matters. Apple even added an “M1X MacBook Pro” tag to the YouTube video for this year’s WWDC, giving credibility to both the name of the high-powered successor to the M1 and the likelihood we’ll see it in the MacBook Pro.
That’s a big deal for several reasons.
First, this is the first high-performance version of Apple Silicon. I mean, technically, the M1, which you can currently buy in a MacBook Air, a 13-inch MacBook Pro, a 24-inch iMac,
a Mac mini, or an iPad Pro
, qualifies as high-performance by almost any standard you could apply to those devices. It outperforms just about anything you can get from AMD or Intel, especially when you combine performance with things like power efficiency and battery life.
The M1X, however, will finally show us what Apple thinks is high performance. In addition to the MacBook Pro, the M1X will likely power the yet-to-be updated 27-inch iMac and the Mac Pro (assuming the latter is updated before the M2X or whatever follows).
That matters because it will give us an indication of whether the investment Apple has made in making its own processors will give us small, incremental changes or if we can expect further leaps as we saw in comparison to the current generation of Intel-based Macs.
The other reason is that the MacBook Pro represents a completely different type of laptop than the MacBook Air. I love my M1 MacBook Air, by the way, but I’d much rather have a high-performance laptop. For years, I used a 13-inch MacBook Pro as my primary work computer. It has always been the best combination of power and portability.
This year, I chose the Air because there really wasn’t much benefit in the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro. Sure, it has a Touch Bar and a fan, but I don’t particularly care for either of those. The Air is so good, it was basically showing off.
But the M1 is definitely a mobile processor. It’s a very good mobile processor, but it’s still designed for devices where efficiency really matters.
I fully expect the 14-inch MacBook Pro to be equally impressive in terms of performance gains because it will have the benefit of better thermal capabilities, as well as a larger battery. Both of those things mean that it can run faster longer, something that makes a huge difference if you want a laptop that can perform like your desktop computer.
I will also say that a return to laptops with more than just a small handful of USB-C ports would be an acknowledgment by Apple that it now understands that people want to do more things with their devices than plug in adapters all the time.
Adding HDMI and an SD card reader would be a signal that the company recognizes that professional laptops should be capable of doing professional things without having to jump through hoops. That alone would represent a huge step in the evolution of the company’s thinking, which has trended toward excessive minimalism over the past decade.
If my assumptions are correct, and Apple rolls out that 14-inch MacBook Pro, it won’t just be a big deal. I’m convinced it might be the most important Mac ever.