Apple’s M1 processor for the Mac made its debut in November 2020 and started a new revolution in computing. The M1 chip in the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini blew everyone’s mind with its performance that told the industry that Apple as a chip maker was not to be taken lightly. The excitement carried on through 2021 with the 24-inch iMac in the first part of the year, and the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro later in the year. Then in March 2022, we got the Mac Studio with the M1 Max and M1 Ultra.
And that was it. [sound of crickets]
Apple teased a new Mac Pro during its March event, and we spent the rest of the year waiting for it. But it never came, and the roll that Apple was on ground to a halt. Mac enthusiasts are left wondering, what is going on?
However, let’s put it all into perspective. If Apple came out today and said, “That’s it, the two-year Apple silicon transition is done. The next several cycles over the next few years will have your typical standard Mac updates,” Mac enthusiasts would probably be okay with that. After all, we have fantastic M-series chips with more than enough performance for most people, redesigns that modernize the Mac and make it more useful, and new models that widen our options.
Here’s the thing: We always want more. Fortunately, we are going to get more in 2023. The thrill is coming back, and it’s not only going to recharge the enthusiasm that started to wane in the second half of 2022 but also bring it to new heights. Here’s how Apple is going to do it.
The year of the Mac Pro
Ever since Apple announced its Apple silicon chip transition, the Mac Pro is the one Mac that everyone has anxiously been awaiting. Not because we’re all going to buy one–most of the people reading this (not to mention me, my editor, and other co-workers) won’t even consider the Mac Pro. It’s a pricey machine and the work that we do is handled just as well by any Mac in the current lineup. Rather, it’s the most intriguing Mac in Apple’s lineup because it’s so out of reach of most users and does do much more than they’ll ever need.
The Mac Pro is for the most demanding Mac user, the one who can never get enough processing power. The M-Series Mac Pro is the machine to address those needs, and we know it’s going to be fast, despite recent rumors that claim it won’t be as fast as Apple originally intended. But it’s also Apple’s opportunity to flex its muscles and show the competition how high the bar is going to be raised. Let’s see what an M processor can do when it’s unleashed.
Perhaps more important than processing prowess is the design of the Mac Pro. Users have a lot of questions here: Will it be a tower? How much user accessibility will it have? How much expansion will it support? Will the “cheese grater” continue, will the “trash can” have a revival, or will Apple do something totally different? Will Apple sell $399 wheels for it?
The Mac Pro is Apple’s opportunity to go all out, and even though it’s made to fill a particular niche, PC enthusiasts of every level want to see what Apple will do. We’re ready to be wowed.
Pro for Pro
Once the new Mac Pro arrives, Apple is almost certain to release a new display to go with it that will replace the current Pro Display XDR. We’re expecting high-end features such as HDR and ProMotion, possibly a larger size, and maybe a camera and high-end speaker system like the Studio Display. It’ll obviously be quite expensive, even without a stand, but for Mac Pro buyers, it’ll be worth every penny.
Enter the half-height mini
Apple upgraded the M1 MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 chips earlier this year. But the M1 Mac mini didn’t get an upgrade, and there’s still an Intel-based Mac mini in Apple’s lineup.
The most exciting rumors say that Apple has a new design for a Mac mini that’s an inch tall, has four Thunderbolt ports, and a new type of magnetic power plug. However, after we didn’t get an M2 update in 2022, we started hearing that the standard Mac mini won’t have a new design, and Apple will instead save the updated case for the “pro” model that will finally replace the Intel-based Mac mini. At any rate, there should be a pretty exciting redesign on the way.
It’s likely that we get a Mac mini update this spring, and it’ll hopefully be more exciting than a mere M2 speed bump. The Mac mini is often overlooked and yet it’s a vital part of Apple’s desktop Mac lineup. The Mac Pro will get all the attention in 2023, but the Mac mini could be the sleeper hit of the year–if Apple gives it the attention it deserves.
John Prosser / Rendersbyian
15 inches of Air
With its awesome combination of price, size, and performance, the MacBook Air is Apple’s most popular laptop. How can Apple make it more popular? By making a bigger one, of course, Reports say that Apple may do just that in 2023 by releasing a new 15.5-inch model with an M2 chip.
We don’t expect it to have any of the high-end features of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the size could be the sweet spot for most users. Even with a $1,499 or $1,599 price tag, a 15-inch Air could quickly become one of the biggest sellers in Apple’s lineup and might finally be the nail in the coffin for the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
iMac Pro to fill out the line
About a year after it released the M1 iMac (and the same day the Mac Studio arrived in March), Apple discontinued the 27-inch iMac. And a before that, the iMac Pro was shelved. That means there’s only one display size remaining if you want an iMac: 24 inches.
That model might be getting an upgrade to an M2 chip next year, but the big change in 2023 could be the release of an updated iMac Pro. A higher-end complement to the current iMac, the iMac Pro could have a bigger 27-inch screen–that may not seem like much on paper, but from a usability standpoint there’s a big difference. Pro app interfaces often have multiple windows, which makes a large display a must-have. Just look at the difference between the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The iMac Pro will likely have an M2 Pro and/or M2 Max processor, with more ports than the M1 model, and a similar design in space gray or black to match the accessories that arrived in 2022.
14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro updates
The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro will be about 18 months old when the spring of 2023 rolls around, and this holiday season saw drastic price cuts on these laptops. When Apple does update these laptops, the company won’t do a redesign, since we just got one in 2021, but we’ll get a nice processor bump to the M2 Pro and M2 Max processors.
Apple could release these updates at its March event, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they held off until WWDC in June or even a little later in the year. The first half of 2023 could be dominated by desktop Mac releases, and MacBook Pro updates would be a good way to round out the year.