Skylake Mac Notebooks May See Staggered Launch in 2016, Led by MacBook and 13" MacBook Pro
Apple is expected to refresh its MacBook lineup in 2016 with Intel's faster Skylake processors and Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C, and supply chain sources now indicate the updated notebooks may see a staggered launch throughout the year.
The company's manufacturing partners are expected to start producing new 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro models around late March or early April, followed by 15-inch MacBook Pro models in the third quarter, according to the sometimes-reliable Taiwanese website DigiTimes.
If accurate, new 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro models could debut at Apple's rumored March media event, alongside the new 4-inch iPhone, iPad Air 3, and Apple Watch updates, or at WWDC, likely scheduled for mid-June. Smaller updates could also be announced at any time via press release.
The larger 15-inch MacBook Pro may not be launched until after WWDC, however, as the third quarter translates to between July and September. While that seems questionable, Apple may elect to announce a new 15-inch MacBook Pro at WWDC and begin shipping the notebook later in the year.
Last year, Apple refreshed the 13-inch MacBook Pro in March, but its 15-inch sibling was not updated until May. For this reason, the 13-inch model is classified as Early 2015, and the 15-inch model is Mid 2015. Both notebooks received Force Touch trackpads, faster flash storage, longer battery life, and improved graphics.
The Early 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro is based on Intel's newer Broadwell chip architecture, while the 15-inch model still has older Haswell architecture. Since then, Intel has announced Skylake chips appropriate for the 13-inch MacBook Pro in September and 15-inch MacBook Pro earlier this week.
Given that Skylake chips have been announced for both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro, there does not appear to be any reason for Apple to stagger the release of its notebooks this year. But, perhaps in line with its 2015 release cycle, Apple may plan to give the current 15-inch MacBook Pro a longer shelf life before replacing it.
Intel also announced Skylake chips appropriate for the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Airs throughout 2015, so it is likely we will see Mac updates across the board over the coming months. The report also claims a new iMac will be released in 2016, but an update is unlikely until later in the year.