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RIP Touch Bar? 2021 MacBook Pro will axe feature, analysts say

Five years after Apple introduced the OLED Touch Bar, it appears like the feature will be retired for the 2021 MacBook Pro.

Analysts at Display Supply Chain Consultants say that while production of Touch Bars remain the third biggest use for OLED panels in the mobile category (behind, unsurprisingly, smartphones and smartwatches), they will soon be axed completely from Apple’s laptop lineup.

“We expect Touch Bars to be exceeded by tablets when Apple starts the adoption of the 10.9-inch AMOLED iPad,” the report reads. “Further, our sources suggest that Apple may cancel the Touch Bar in the future.”

The word “may” gives a little wiggle room here, but rumours of the Touch Bar’s demise aren’t brand new. Both Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg have offered predictions that the Touch Bar will soon be abandoned in favour of more traditional function keys.

The only real question is why it took Apple nearly five years to take it out. The Touch Bar has never charmed reviewers, who generally have taken the view that it’s style over substance. And style that makes the product more expensive, too. 

In our updated review of the original Touch Bar toting MacBook Pro 13, deputy editor Max Parker returned with an assessment after six months of use. And it wasn’t flattering. “I do still really dislike that OLED strip that I accidentally press at least five times a day,” he wrote. “The Touch Bar is more of a pain than a bonus; it’s got to a point where I’m longing for a hack that will enable me to turn it off completely.”

Of course, removing the Touch Bar isn’t the only thing that the 2021 MacBook Pro will bring to the table. Reports suggest “the most significant update to the MacBook Pro design in the past five years”, the inclusion of the new Apple M1X processor and the return of MagSafe charging. It’s expected this year, but reports differ over whether it’s a Q3 or Q4 product.

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