Apple is reportedly ditching the butterfly switch keyboards completely with this year’s MacBook Pro and MacBook Air refresh. After getting that done, the company has an even bigger surprise in the form of an ARM-based Mac that could see the light of day as early as Q4 2020.
Apple’s new 16-inch MacBook is a resounding success, mostly thanks to its powerful internals as well as the departure from the infamous butterfly keyboard in favor of a slightly improved version of the old scissor design.
According to renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air will launch in the second quarter of this year. It’s possible that he’s referring to the much-awaited 14-inch model that is supposed to replace the current 13-inch model.
Kuo says the new MacBooks will also come with some cost optimizations that aren’t unheard of and will not be noticeable to the average user. At this point it’s unclear if that will also lead to a small reduction in price for these devices, but Apple is likely doing this to lower the impact of supply issues that stem from the coronavirus outbreak.
Interestingly, Kuo notes that MacBook sales haven’t seen any significant drop during the first two months of this year, despite the production slowdowns that have creeped into this month. Suppliers told the analyst that suppliers of components for the new models expect to be able to support mass production starting later this month.
But there’s another tidbit in Kuo’s notes that is even more important than Apple completing the migration of its entire MacBook line back to a more reliable keyboard design. His report indicates that the ARM-based Mac that’s been in the rumor mill as of late could be coming a bit sooner than expected.
The next-generation device is supposedly part of an all-new MacBook lineup that Apple will use to start its transition away from Intel CPUs. The first one will ship sometime between Q4 2020 to Q1 2021, so the company could talk about it at WWDC.
Apple has been trying to make the case for the iPad Pro as a true PC for most people, so it’s possible that the addition of an ARM-based Mac could persuade more developers to work on porting x86 apps over to the new architecture.
Lastly, Kuo believes Apple will reveal a major redesign of its MacBooks in 2021, after more than a decade of incremental refinements on the unibody design.