What to expect from Apple’s WWDC 2023 Mac lineup

What to expect from Apple's WWDC 2023 Mac lineup

Apple’s WWDC 2023 is fast approaching, and we’ll be there! But first, let’s discuss the most likely MacBook and Mac announcements ahead of the event.

(Credit: Alisa Stern; Apple)

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, WWDC 2023, kicks off on June 5, by which time we anticipate the launch of at least one new MacBook laptop or Mac desktop. It makes sense that the rumor mill has stirred with possible Mac revelations, as Apple’s annual developer event is the perfect launch pad for new hardware and software. Last year’s conference saw the debut of two new Macs, so it’s only fitting that we’ll see more new faces added to the Mac lineup during this year’s keynote.

A larger 15-inch MacBook Air

A 15-inch MacBook Air is the most rumored announcement, scaling Apple’s ultraportable to its largest size to date. A 15-inch model would provide a roomier laptop, presumably priced less than the more powerful MacBook Pro. We’ve been hearing rumors about this 15-inch MacBook Air for over a year, but a recent report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman(Opens in a new window) suggests it’s one of several new Macs coming soon.

Apple Macbook Air M2

Apple’s MacBook Air M2 might have a bigger brother. (Credit: Brian Westover)

Rumors don’t seem to agree on whether the new big Air will have the already released M2 processor or a newer M3 chip. It’s reasonable to assume that a full-size MacBook Air would use the same updated design as the current 13.6-inch M2 model, as well as a similar array of two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a MagSafe charging port, and a headphone jack. However, we don’t know if the larger size will also prompt Apple to include something like an HDMI monitor port.

One thing is likely: The larger display should scale the resolution from the current Air’s 2,560-by-1,664 pixels to something closer to the 3,456-by-2,234 panel on the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro. Just don’t expect the same mini LED technology; that’s probably reserved for the more premium Pro models.

A new 13-inch MacBook Pro

This is another hotly rumored product, but given that Apple just updated the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro a year ago with the M2 processor, it seems unlikely that it will get another update so soon. However, Bloomberg’s Gurman says an updated MacBook Pro is in the works (opens in a new window).

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Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M2)

Fingers crossed the 13-inch MacBook Pro loses the Touch Bar at last. (Credit: Brian Westover)

If Apple decides to release a new 13-inch model, we expect a redesigned chassis that follows the lead of the 14-inch and 16-inch models and eventually ditch the Touch Bar. The Tocuh Bar is a failed experiment, and Apple needs to bring the entry-level 13-inch up to the level that larger, premium models have set.

After this year’s announcement of the latest 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops, the previous MacBook design continued unchanged, but with the more powerful M2 Pro and M2 Max silicon. Apple likes to stick with its designs considerably longer than competitors who release products on shorter cycles, but if the MacBook Pro line needed an update, a refreshed 13-inch Pro could be a timely opportunity to introduce new features or elements of improvement. design.

Are the OLED MacBooks coming?

One extra-big rumor that has been making the rounds of WWDC is the possibility of an OLED MacBook. Earlier this year, Korean news outlet The Elec reported that Samsung would begin supplying OLED panels for Apple products(Opens in a new window), specifically an OLED version of the MacBook Air.

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M2)

How do you improve a retina display? Make it OLED. (Credit: Apple)

The appeal is obvious, with OLED panels providing the best contrast you can get, and their per-pixel lighting providing fantastic HDR performance. Just take one look at any of the OLED laptops we’ve reviewed and you’ll see that they always house the best displays you can buy.

Frankly though, I think this is wishful thinking, not because Apple hasn’t considered and probably even prototyped a MacBook Pro or Air with an OLED display, but because the company has already invested heavily in mini LED displays, not to mention the development of micro LED technology that could eventually become a strong competitor to OLED.

An OLED panel would also be a premium feature to add to the MacBook Air, which is traditionally Apple’s entry-level laptop. Adding an OLED screen would increase the price considerably, and the 13-inch Air is just $100 less than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Giving the MacBook Air an OLED display might actually change the entire value relationship between the two, and I don’t see that happening.

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Coming soon: Mac Pro with Apple Silicon

MacBooks may get the most press coverage, but for the Mac faithful, especially those who need real power to get work done, a new Mac Pro is what people are really waiting for. Last updated in 2019, the Mac Pro is the only member of the Mac family that hasn’t yet moved from Intel to Apple processors. And after four years running on Intel and AMD hardware, the current Mac Pro simply isn’t worth the exorbitant price tag the machine still commands.

Apple Mac Pro

Apple’s Mac Pro is overdue for a home-brand CPU. (Credit: Apple)

The problem, of course, is that Apple needs a chip that can not only match but exceed the power of the Intel Xeon processor used in the latest update. The Mac Studio with M1 Ultra actually outperforms the Mac Pro with a 28-core Intel Xeon, though the Pro’s AMD Radeon Pro GPU should still enjoy a comfortable edge over the M1 Ultra’s capable graphics processing.

But the compact Mac Studio isn’t modular in the same way as the Mac Pro—not that the latter offers much room for upgrades, having been frozen in the pre-Apple Silicon days. Regardless, the larger design of the Mac Pro has always served some important functions for power users and workstation customers, and the Mac Studio just doesn’t have the same flexibility, even if it’s several thousand dollars cheaper.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of a Mac Pro being announced at WWDC seems slim. We’ve heard gossip about a new M2 Ultra chip that could power a new Mac Pro, as well as other rumors suggesting the M2 Ultra has been scrapped, but I don’t think Apple Silicon has grown on par with the older hardware. , even if the M1 Ultra beats it in some tests.

An Apple iMac with an M2 chip?

Apple’s consumer desktop computer, the 24-inch iMac, also looks a bit old. Last updated in 2021, it was one of the first systems to get an M1 chip, but since then we’ve seen six new Apple Silicon processors announced in the M1 and M2 lines, and none of them are offered in the iMac. For that reason alone, the desktop is overdue for an update. Bloomberg’s Gurman has a buzz about a new iMac(Opens in a new window), reporting that it was undergoing advanced engineering validation testing in March.

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Apple M1 and M2 Chips

Apple’s M2 chip is considerably more powerful than the M1. (Credit: Apple)

Another frequent wish is to go back to the larger 27-inch iMac screen of yesteryear, but I don’t see that happening either. Apple seems to have positioned the 24-inch iMac as its entry-level consumer machine, with the Mac mini or Mac Studio meeting the needs of anyone who needs more capable hardware, including the option of larger or multiple screens. Apple Studio Display, for example, already offers Mac fans a 27-inch 5K display and works with more than one hardware platform.

I think it’s more likely that we’ll see the iMac updated with the new M3 chip, whenever the latter appears (not until late 2023 at the earliest, in my opinion).

Soon we will have answers

Obviously, this article is largely based on speculation, but with WWDC 2023 just around the corner, it’s always worth taking stock of the rumors and adjusting expectations accordingly. After several years of sticking my finger in the air to see which way the Apple winds are blowing, the only thing I can say for sure is that most Apple rumors turn out to be wrong, even if they appear to be from a good source and be backed with logic and filtered information.

In general, I don’t expect more than one, maybe two, of these rumors to come to anything next week. That is the nature of the game. But one other thing is for sure: Apple is never done, and new products will come, whether they’re announced at WWDC or at another event later in the year. We’ll be reporting live from the event, so be sure to stay tuned here.

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