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MacBook ARM: Release date, price, specs and design

Apple has officially confirmed plans to launch a MacBook Arm, which will feature Apple Silicon instead of the usual Intel processors. This represents a larger move, as Apple intends to implement its own silicon into all MacBook and iMac devices within the next two years. 

While initial rumours had pointed towards a new 12-inch MacBook being the first to adopt the Apple silicon, it is now believed that the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro could be the first Apple laptop to benefit.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo supposedly claims (via MacRumours) that the MacBook Air, as well as 14-inch and 16-inch variants of the MacBook Pro, will follow the 13-inch MacBook in getting the Apple Silicon upgrade. With no mention of a comeback for the vanilla MacBook, it’ls looking increasingly likely that Apple will only be refreshing its existing lineup of MacBooks rather than introducing completely new devices.

But what improvements will the Apple Silicon bring to MacBook laptops? By embracing Apple’s own ARM-based SoC, the laptops will take advantage of industry-leading performance-per-watt for reduced power consumption.

The transition to ARM will also allow Apple to establish a common architecture across the rest of its product line, including the iPhone and the iPad. By implementing similar architecture across devices, Apple will makes it easier for developers to optimise their apps for Apple products. In fact, the iPad Pro is already powered by the A12Z Bionic that MacOS Big Sur was demoed on at WWDC. The new OS promises to make the move to Apple silicon seamless for the MacBook, with all Apple apps already running as native on the SoC.

Apple isn’t the first company to convert its laptops to ARM-based processors. Samsung made the jump with the Galaxy Book S. Taking from what we’ve seen in the ARM-based Galaxy Book S, future MacBook models could potentially be thinner, lighter and more battery efficient than any of the brand’s current Intel-based ultrabooks.

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MacBook ARM release date – When will it launch?

The first MacBook ARM will likely be a refreshed version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which will reportedly release during Q4 2020.

However, many more MacBook ARM devices are expected to follow, with Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumours) suggesting an ARM-based MacBook Air will launch in in Q4 2020 or Q1 2021, and new new 14- and 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ models will hit stores in Q2 2021 or Q3 2021.

Apple plans to transition the entire Mac line to the Apple silicon over the next two years, though it has clarified it will continue to support existing Intel machines for the foreseeable future.

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MacBook ARM price – How much will it cost?

There is no price yet, and we won’t likely hear more until we approach the release day.

But since Ming-Chi Kuo claims the first MacBook Arm will be a replacement for the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, the starting price is likely to be around £1299.

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MacBook ARM specs – What is the ARM MacBook?

Along with higher performance, lower power consumption and improved machine learning, other ARM-based laptops such as the Galaxy Book S give us an idea of what to expect from future MacBooks. Potential upgrades include an increased battery life, ultra-portable designs and potential 4G support via SIM cards. 

However, Apple’s chip may have some notable differences. Bloomberg reports that TSMC will manufacture a new 5-nanometer process on Apple’s behalf, following the same technique that the current iPhone and iPad devices use. The Apple silicon will make it easier for developers to transition iOS apps over to macOS, with Apple showing Monument Valley 2 running on a Mac for the first time.

Apple has suggested its own ARM-based processors will be more power efficient than the current Intel Core processors, which could potentially result in improved battery life. We’ll have to wait until the official release to put this to the test.

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MacBook ARM design – What will it look like?

Reports are few and far between regarding a new MacBook design. However, ARM architecture allows for a thin and light chassis.

We expect the rumoured ARM-based 13-inch MacBook Pro to be thinner and lighter than the current Intel model, although we’ll have to wait and see whether that becomes a reality. We also expect Apple to stick to the new trend of shaving down the bezel for an almost edge-to-edge screen design.

Otherwise, we don’t think there will be many huge deviations from current MacBook designs.

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