In January, Ming Chi Kuo excited fans of Apple’s pro laptops with news that the 2021 MacBook Pro would feature a new design, Apple Silicon, and the return of MagSafe and more IO ports.
The analyst has followed up on that report today to be slightly more specific: he expects Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pro models to feature a HDMI port and a SD card slot. As a reminder, the current 16-inch MacBook Pro only features Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and a headphone jack in terms of connectivity.
When Apple launched the new style of MacBook Pro with the 2016 revision, the idea was that offering four Thunderbolt USB-C ports would be sufficient for everyone. Thunderbolt 3 ports are high bandwidth and multipurpose: they are high-bandwidth data transfer ports and can even transmit power and act as display outputs.
However, in order to connect to most peripherals, users would need dongles or adapters that converted the USB-C to HDMI or even traditional rectangular USB-A to support their existing legacy peripherals. Even four years on, the dongle problem remains a pain point for many MacBook Pro customers. Many users resort to carrying multifunction USB-C adapters with them and hang all their accessories of off that.
It seems Apple is willing to admit it jumped the gun slightly, as signalled by the restoration of dedicated HDMI ports and an SD card slot for transferring photos off of cameras.
It remains unclear what the full lineup of IO on the new MacBook Pros will be. It doesn’t seem likely that Apple will add two ports in addition to the four USB-C ports, but Kuo does not detail the exact breakdown. Remember too that these laptops are also expected to feature a MagSafe port for charging.
For comparison, the ‘old’ 2015 MacBook Pro sported MagSafe, two Thunderbolt ports, USB-3 and a headphone jack on the left side and another USB-3 port, HDMI and SD card slot on the right side of the machine. This came to a total of 8 I/O on Apple’s pro workstation laptop. The 16-inch today only features 5 ports, 4 USB-C and a headphone jack. Even if the four USB-C ports are more versatile and technically capable, many people crave the ability to just plug a lot of stuff in without having to worry about dongles.
The new MacBook Pro lineup is expected to launch in the fall. The machines are hotly anticipated not just because of the form factor changes, but also customers will be able to experience how well Apple silicon performs in higher-end CPU and GPU products.