There’s going to be a lot of attention on Apple’s Mac computers over the next few months, especially the MacBook laptops, as the transition from Intel-based architecture to ARM-based reaches retail shelves. But the radical ARM laptops might not be the only new hardware on show.
Tucked away inside Apple’s latest build of Boot Camp are references to a new 16-inch MacBook Pro. It looks like Tim Cook and his team are ready to bring the 16-inch specs into line with the current 2020 cohort. But there’s a catch.
The new machine is going to have the out-of-favor Intel chipset.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro was launched last year, replacing the 15-inch MacBook Pro with only minor tweaks to the overall size (thanks to the use of smaller bezels). It also shipped with Intel’s 9th-generation Core processors. Following the update to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro in the first half of 2020 to the tenth-generation, the 16-inch model was quietly bumped up without much fanfare.
These updates were paired up with the high end graphics cards, so remain the ‘top line’ options. A move further down the portfolio into the middle tier and aligning the options with the current Airs and Pros makes sense.
The sting in the tail is that these will be Intel based machines, not the new ARM-powered laptops – the giveaway is that this is part of Boot Camp and Apple has confirmed that Bootcamp will not be available for macOS on ARM machines.
That’s an easy question to answer. The bigger question is just how much ongoing support Apple will be offering the Intel machines. An Intel-powered MacBook purchased today will need physical support for servicing for a number of years, and that’s relatively easy to offer. Software support is the key.
Apple is moving aggressively towards ARM, with the full product line to be switched over within two years. Given that push towards the new system, will Intel still receive ‘Apple’s new toys’ over the next few years? Will apps from key developers continue to be updated with the latest features? Can the ecosystem work with the advantages of ARM and still deliver on Intel?
It’s a question that I hope Apple answers when it launches the ARM-based Macs to the public. I’m sure there will be lots of reassurances about the the compatibility of the new machines, their increased performance, and the modern design. What I want to hear – and what many prospective buyers want to hear – is what’s going to happen in the medium- to long-term with support for the Intel machines.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a hefty investment. Knowing how long it will receive the fullest support of Apple is just as important as the specifications.