Just over a year ago, Apple introduced its newest laptop, the wonderfully thin—but woefully underpowered—MacBook. It’s since been updated with a more powerful processor and more memory, but it’s still relatively underpowered, compared with Apple’s flagship laptop, the MacBook Pro, and far more expensive than its MacBook Air line of computers. But Apple hasn’t updated either line of computers in over a year—the last updates to both happened after a press event in March 2015, and at this year’s March event, Apple glossed over the two machines. And some of Apple’s desktop computers, such as the Mac Pro and Mini, haven’t been updated, or mentioned, in years.
Computers, unlike smartphones or other smaller electronic devices, tend to be big purchases, which customers only shell out for when they have to, and expect to get a good four or five years’ worth of use out of them. They research them, and try to wait until the newest models, or the best deals, are available. Which is why, if you’re after a new Apple laptop that can do more than browse the web and send a few emails, you might find yourself in a bit of a bind. Neither the Air nor the Pro have been updated, or dramatically gone on sale, since they were last updated.
And right now, computer sales across the industry are in the doldrums. Every major manufacturer is shipping fewer PCs that it did this time last year, according to data from market research firm IDC. But Apple, which up until recently was bucking the trend of the industry, is still not doing nearly as poorly as many of its competitors. Though if you’re after a powerful laptop, or a cheaper Apple computer, it might be worth waiting just a little while longer. Here’s why:
Last week, Apple reportedly started pulling its older MacBook Pro stock from some of its retail locations, suggesting that it’s making way for a new model. Rumors suggest that the next MacBook Pro will be thinner, more powerful, have a sharper screen resolution—and unlike the new MacBook, more than one port. Apple rumor blog AppleInsider expects that the new laptops will likely ship in the second half of 2016, and some analysts are suggesting that it might have a touchscreen built into the keyboard. Apple announced a new version of its computer operating system, now called macOS Sierra, that’s due to ship in the fall, meaning it’s quite likely that the company will have its newest hardware ready to show off the software around the launch date. There are even rumors that Apple will be hosting a separate Mac-focused event in July, so if you can hold off for a few more months, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get a much newer machine than what the company is currently offering, or a much better deal than what’s available right now.
For iMacs, the picture is a little less clear. Apple last updated the desktops in October 2015, and doesn’t always announce desktop updates as part of its major product announcement press events. Sometimes, Apple just chooses to issue a press release to notify the world that it’s bumped up the specifications on its Macs, and MacWorld thinks that Apple is unlikely to update the computers, beyond potentially an upgraded processor, until nearer the end of the year.
The Mac Pro, Apple’s high-power trashcan-shaped desktop computer, hasn’t been updated since it was released way back in December 2013. Similarly, Apple’s cheapest desktop, the Mac Mini, hasn’t been updated in nearly two years. Apple held a special Mac- and iPad-focused event in October 2014 where it announced a new iMac and Mac Mini. It’s entirely possible that a similar event is on the horizon for this year, given how long in the tooth some of these models are getting.
If you’re waiting on a next-generation MacBook Air, there may be bad news ahead. Reports are suggesting that Apple will be condensing its laptop line to just the MacBook, and the MacBook Pro, with the former replacing the Air. Lower-powered versions of the MacBook will likely become the company’s new lower-price models, if this proves to be the case, but Apple wasn’t immediately available to confirm these reports.
If you can get over its tiny keyboard, the new MacBook is a very reliable, albeit expensive machine—it starts at $1,299, whereas a MacBook Air starts at $899. And it’s currently the only Apple laptop that comes in rose gold, if that’s something you’re into. If you’re not planning on running a recording studio or a photo-editing business entirely off of your computer, the MacBook is an absolutely solid computer that should fulfill your computing needs. But if you want a bigger screen, or something more powerful, or a desktop, you’ll have to wait and see for whatever Apple likely releases later this year.