October 19, 2021

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No Macs at the Apple iPhone 13 event, but the year isn’t over yet

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Dan Ackerman/CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple.

During Apple’s annual September hardware launch event, the company focused on iPhone 13, new iPads and a new Apple Watch, but Macs were nowhere to be seen. That wasn’t a huge surprise, given the leaks and analyst predictions, but it was still disappointing for anyone trying to decide between getting a new MacBook now or waiting. 

The last big new Mac news was a 24-inch version of the iMac all-in-one desktop, powered by Apple’s own M1 CPU. That joined the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Mini as computers that have ditched Intel chips for Apple’s own designs. Right now, the 27-inch iMac, 16-inch MacBook Pro and Mac Pro desktop are the Intel-based holdouts. 

Even if a new MacBook Pro or updated MacBook Air wasn’t going to turn up at the iPhone 13 event, there was a rumor floating around that all seven colors of the 24-inch iMac would be available in stores — some of the colors are currently online-only. But that didn’t happen. 

What does this mean for anyone interested in a back-to-school or holiday MacBook purchase? Unfortunately, those shoppers are in the same boat they were earlier in 2021. Current models are aging every day and the flagship MacBook Air will be one year old by the time Black Friday rolls around. That makes it feel especially risky to buy a MacBook Air right now, even though the current M1 Air is one of the most universally useful laptops around

Here’s where I stand right now on whether you should wait or buy if you’re looking for a new Mac:

MacBook Air: At this point, I’d wait to see if October or November brings an updated model, maybe with a to-be-announced M2 chip. 

13-inch MacBook Pro: Same, but unless there’s a major change in the features and specs for the price, it will remain a tough sell compared to the similar (and less expensive) M1 Air. 

Mac Mini: Historically, this small desktop only gets updated every few years at best. If you need one for home office or podcast studio use, I’d feel OK about buying now. Any CPU update won’t radically change things. 

16-inch MacBook Pro: If you’re waiting for an Apple Silicon version or a new design, keep waiting. The 16-inch Pro has not been updated since 2019, so this could be part of the next update wave. Unless, that is, you’re looking to nail down one of the last Intel-powered Macs, either for platform continuity or software compatibility, although the case for that’s got thinner over time. 

Now that iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch are out of the way, Apple’s potential next event could be about MacBook laptops and Mac desktops (or AirPods and Apple TV). I’d expect it in October, giving just enough notice to the holiday shopping season. 

See all of CNET’s coverage from today’s Apple event


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