What’s next for Mac? MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro rumours
Mac to the future – here’s what’s (possibly) coming from Apple over the next year
Your Mac is so old its system font is based on hieroglyphics. Time to upgrade! But what if when you do, Apple releases another, better Mac, for less money? That’s the worry. (Apart from the bit about less money, because Apple.)
This article can help. We’ve explored the current state of play with Apple’s Mac line-up, interpreted the rumour coos of the patented prediction pigeon, and for each model offered a shiny ‘Stuff says’ buying recommendation.
Check out our main guide to the different MacBooks available: Which is the best MacBook for you? Apple MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro as well as our overall best laptop guide.
The state of play: The M1 MacBook Air rocked up in late 2020. We liked its innards (great battery; zoomy chip; fab display) but were less enamored by the chunky bezels on the unchanged case – and the rubbish webcam. Then Apple revealed the M2 MacBook Air at its developer conference (WWDC) in 2022. It brought a new design that fixes our issues with the old one, along with the new M2 processor that delivers more power, a better keyboard and MagSafe charging.
What’s next: Now that the M2-powered MacBook Air is the real deal, its design should stay current for at least a few years – even if the underlying components get renewed annually. An M3-powered version is likely at some point, possibly with an OLED display. A 15in MacBook Air (with M2 power) is also reported to rock up shortly.
Stuff says: We preferred the M1 MacBook Air’s design to the entry-level MacBook Pro’s – it was far nicer to type on. The new model’s typing prowess is equally assured, and is better on almost every front. If you don’t need pro-grade power, the M2 MacBook Air is the Apple laptop to buy. Soon there’ll be no shortage of options, though: a bigger screen is always nice, but it’s getting trickier to pick the perfect model for you.
The state of play: The MacBook Pro with M1 arrived alongside the M1-powered Air in late 2020. Its case was dated even then, and it continues to linger like a bad smell today. The 14in MacBook Pro and 16in MacBook Pro that turned up in 2021 were a breath of fresh air, with a new design, revamped display, better camera and improved I/O. The Touch Bar got deleted, too. Those models used M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which have since been replaced with more powerful M2 Pro and M2 Max versions – as seen in our 2023 16in MacBook Pro review.
What’s next: M3 Pro and M3 Max are the obvious additions, likely due in 2024. Apple’s said to be exploring eye-searing OLED displays and Face ID too. Expect the case design to stay the same, though.
Stuff says: The sheer power of the 14in and 16in models means that even if Apple updates them early next year, today’s versions will still be a good investment.
Round the bend: the folding MacBook Pro
MacRumors reports a foldable MacBook Pro device is on the cards at some point. Although given how much Mac users hated the Touch Bar, we shudder to think what they’d make of an entire keyboard being a glass surface when the device is in ‘laptop’ mode.
The state of play: The Mac Mini is still using the case from the 2018 model, the guts from the 13in MacBook Pro M2 or MacBook Air but with a few extra ports (2x USB-A, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet). It’s now a little bit cheaper for the standard Mac Mini M2 version but it is also available with the M2 Pro should you want more power. There’s now no Intel version available.
What’s next: The Mac Mini might be next updated when there’s an M3 chip – or Apple might skip a generation and go straight to M4. No news on a redesign of a case that’s now best and most charitably described as ‘classic’.
Stuff says: If you want a desk-bound Mac, you’d do a lot worse than to get one of these.
The state of play: We weren’t convinced about the April 2021 M1 iMac on seeing photos of it, but on review discovered it’s a beauty. Well, at least in purple (Ed: and yellow). It’s a solid performer too, if since eclipsed by M1/M2 Pro and M1/M2 Max Macs.
What’s next: An M2 iMac to replace the M1 version now seems off the cards, given how close far Apple must be into development of its M3 silicon. We doubt the design will change. Perhaps the colours will, with Apple ditching unpopular hues and adding new ones. Further in the future, expect a mini LED panel with ProMotion and FaceTime. Apple has also tested Face ID for the Mac.
There’s also the thorny issue of the 27in iMac, which Apple killed. Rumours are mixed whether Apple will replace it. If it does, assume it’ll have design language close to the MacBook Pro: black bezels and boring grey. Or maybe it’ll be an Apple Studio Display with an iMac inside rather than an iPad – and hopefully a better camera too…
Stuff says: Tricky one. The 24in iMac is great, and the timeframe around updates is unclear and has long been uneven. Maybe hold off unless you’re totally sold on one specific colour.
The state of play: We reviewed the Mac Studio, the latest entry in Apple’s Mac line-up, in March 2022. Our verdict? It’s great, but surprisingly noisy.
What’s next: We’ve no idea about cadence nor what’s coming in the next Mac Studio, and there are no rumours around, bar obvious ones regarding M1-series chips later getting swapped out for their successors – the M2 Ultra is surely on the way. We’d hope any update would let the fan power down when the unit’s idle, mind.
Stuff says: If a Mac Studio is your jam, spread it on your toast right now. (Which means “just buy it” in parlance we this minute made up because we’re peckish.) But also don’t come crying to us if Apple gives you new jam this year.
The state of play: We last coo’d at the Mac Pro during WWDC 2019. We can say for sure: 1) it looks great; 2) it at the time was insanely powerful, and; 3) the very serious Apple guardian near the wheeled unit we saw didn’t take kindly to a quip it’d be fun to “ride around on, like in a game of Mario Kart”.
What’s next: Apple’s stated the Mac Pro will be the last Mac to shift to Apple silicon, but there’s no timeframe. It’s unlikely the design will change much – pros need quick access to the Mac’s innards to add and remove components. As for the chip, fused Ultras are rumoured, dubbed ‘Extreme’. An M2 or M3 Extreme is therefore on the cards, given that M2-series chips are now official.
Stuff says: Don’t buy the current Mac Pro, unless you’re made of money and want that silly and expensive real-world Mario Kart experience. It now underperforms for the price and will be replaced by something much better within a relatively short timeframe. The Mac Studio is currently a better option for power users.
Additional words: Dan Grabham, Tom Morgan-Freelander