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Apple could launch new MacBook Pro with faster processor, magnetic charging

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Apple Inc. is planning upgraded MacBook Pro laptops this year with much faster processors, updated displays and the return of its magnetic charger, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.

The new laptops are planned to come in two screen sizes, a 14-inch model codenamed J314 and a 16-inch version internally dubbed J316. Both will use next-generation versions of Apple’s in-house Mac processors, upgraded with more cores and enhanced graphics, the person said, asking not to be named as the products are not yet announced.

These devices will mark Apple’s first high-end laptops to move away from Intel Corp. components. The company updated its base 13-inch MacBook Pro with its own M1 chip in November, to broadly positive reviews.

Beyond the more powerful chips, Apple is also planning to step up the displays in its new MacBook Pros with brighter, higher-contrast panels, the person said. The new Macs will look similar to the current versions, albeit with minor design changes. Apple is aiming to launch the new MacBook Pros around the middle of the year.

An Apple spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A major change to the new computers will be how they charge. Over the past five years, Apple has relied on USB-C ports for both power and data transfer on its laptops, making them compatible with other manufacturers’ chargers. But the company is now bringing back MagSafe, the magnetic power adapter that means any accidental yanking of the power cable would simply detach it from the laptop rather than pull down the entire computer. It was a favourite feature of the company’s portable PC lineup that was first introduced in 2006 and most recently revived for its latest lineup of iPhones.

The return of MagSafe with the next MacBook Pros will also allow those laptops to charge at a faster rate, the person said. The connector will be similar to the elongated pill-shaped design of the older MagSafe port.

Despite moving away from USB-C for charging, Apple will still include multiple USB-C ports on its future Macs.

In developing its next set of Mac laptops, Apple has also tested versions that remove the Touch Bar from its laptop keyboards. The Touch Bar, introduced as part of the last MacBook Pro redesign in 2016, turns the keyboard’s top row from function keys into a touchscreen strip that can display a variety of information and a changing set of controls to adapt to apps and tasks. Some professional users have said they found that control scheme less convenient than physical keys.

Apple is also planning a redesigned MacBook Air, but that is not expected to be released until long after the next MacBook Pros.

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