Top Stories: Redesigned MacBook Pro in 2021, MagSafe Duo Released, HomePod Mini vs. Competition
You'd think news and rumors would be settling down a bit as we get into December, but that certainly wasn't the case this week as we saw quite a bit of both. On the rumor front, the big one was a fresh report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reiterating that Apple is planning for two redesigned MacBook Pro models next year featuring Apple Silicon and Mini-LED displays, with Mini-LED trickling down the MacBook Air in 2022.
MacRumors also obtained an internal memo for Apple service providers suggesting we could see some new hardware launched next Tuesday via press release. On the news side, Apple's MagSafe Duo Charger has finally launched, and we've gone hands-on with both the new charger and Apple's new Leather Sleeve for the iPhone 12 lineup. Read on below for details on these stories and more from the past week!
Two Redesigned MacBook Pros With Apple Silicon and Mini-LED Displays Expected in 2021, Followed by New MacBook Air in 2022
Apple plans to release two redesigned MacBook Pro models with Apple Silicon and Mini-LED displays in 2021, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. He also expects a new MacBook Air with Apple Silicon and a Mini-LED display to launch in 2022, but it is unclear if it will sport a new design.
Kuo has previously claimed that the two MacBook Pros will be new 14-inch and 16-inch models set to launch in the late second quarter to third quarter of next year. Apple already announced that it plans to transition its entire Mac lineup to Apple Silicon within around two years, with other rumored models in the pipeline including a redesigned 24-inch iMac and a new Mac Pro that looks like the current design at about half the size.
Apple released the first three Macs with its custom M1 chip last month, including a new MacBook Air, low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Apple said the chip delivers industry-leading performance per watt, as proven by impressive benchmarks and real-world usage tests.
Mini-LED backlighting has been long rumored for the Mac, and would deliver many of the same benefits as OLED displays on some other Apple devices, including higher brightness, improved contrast ratio, and increased power efficiency versus a traditional LCD. At least one upcoming iPad Pro model is also rumored to feature Mini-LED technology.
MagSafe Duo Charger for iPhone 12 and Apple Watch Now Available for Purchase
After being previewed at Apple’s iPhone 12 event in September, the MagSafe Duo wireless charger is now available for purchase on Apple.com, in the Apple Store app, and at select Apple Store locations. We've already gone hands-on with the new charger, so make sure to check out our video for our early impressions.
Priced at $129, the MagSafe Duo features a MagSafe charger and an Apple Watch charger embedded side by side in a foldable accessory, with power supplied by an included Lightning to USB-C cable. However, like the latest iPhones, Apple’s recommended 20W power adapter is not included in the box and must be purchased separately for $19 if needed.
It's worth noting that the MagSafe Duo is not able to charge iPhone 12 models at the full 15W supported by the standalone MagSafe charger, and is instead limited to a maximum of 14W when paired with a 27W or higher USB-C power adapter, according to Apple.
MagSafe Duo is compatible with all iPhones that support wireless charging, including the iPhone 8 and newer, in addition to every generation of the Apple Watch and AirPods/AirPods Pro with a wireless charging case.
AppleCare Memo Hints at Potential Hardware Announcement Next Tuesday
In an internal memo this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple informed service providers that it has AppleCare-related changes planned for Tuesday, December 8 at approximately 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time. Specifically, Apple has advised technicians to prepare for new product SKUs and related descriptions/pricing updates.
Apple has issued nearly identical memos ahead of several previous product announcements, and 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time has been a common time for Apple to issue press releases introducing new products, so there could be a potential hardware announcement from Apple next Tuesday.
Last month, cryptic-yet-reliable Twitter user "L0vetodream" tweeted that there will be a "Christmas surprise from Apple," but it remains unclear which product(s) might be announced next Tuesday, if any. There have been countless rumors about Apple's item tracking AirTags, AirPods-branded over-ear headphones, and a new Apple TV with a gaming controller, but it is unclear if any of these products are ready to launch before the end of 2020.
Any announcement would almost certainly come via press release, as Apple is not expected to host any more events this year.
$99 Speaker Showdown: HomePod Mini vs. Amazon Echo and Google Nest Audio
Apple recently released the HomePod mini, and its $99 price tag makes it more competitive with affordable smart speakers from Amazon and Google.
Many reviewers and customers have praised the HomePod mini's high-quality sound at its price point, so in a recent hands-on video, we thought we'd compare it to Google's Nest Audio and Amazon's Echo to see how it measures up in terms of sound quality, design, and smarts.
Hands-On With the Leather Sleeve for iPhone 12 Models
Apple this year came out with a handful of accessories for the new iPhone 12 models, and in addition to the standard Silicone and Leather cases, there's also a new Leather Sleeve that recently went on sale.
We picked up one of the Leather Sleeves to check it out to see if it's worth the $129 that Apple is charging. The Leather Sleeve is available for the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, and 12 mini, with all of the Sleeves priced the same.
Also see our hands-on video with Apple's new MagSafe Wallet from last month.
Each week, we publish an email newsletter like this highlighting the top Apple stories, making it a great way to get a bite-sized recap of the week hitting all of the major topics we've covered and tying together related stories for a big-picture view.