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Could new MacBook Pros really have a notch? Fresh rumors suggest they might

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) opened up on a desk
(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s new MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch laptops are rumored to be launching very soon, with increasing speculation around the devices having an iPhone-style notch

While that seems unlikely – we made our feelings on the possibility clear enough, particularly with this rumor coming out of nowhere – it’s not unfathomable, and more evidence has now emerged to hint that it just might be the case.

MacRumors has been keeping its ear firmly to the Apple ground and has flagged up these new reports, one of which is built around a patent filed back in 2019. In it, Apple floats the idea of a display with an ‘extended active area’ above it, meaning a main screen with an extended region between that display and the bezel, on opposing sides of the central webcam.

Notch or not?

In other words, exactly the scheme of things we described earlier, whereby the camera is in a notch, and there’s a very small black strip either side – separate from the actual 16:10 display below. The patent puts forward the idea that the “extended regions display icons on a black background”, so these regions could contain info like the clock, battery level and so forth, as we previously theorized.

The fact that Apple has considered this idea in the past is clearly interesting, then, but doesn’t mean much by itself. It is, however, backed up by other fresh rumors, which include a blurry photo of a purported MacBook Pro display with a notch shared via Chinese platform Weibo (highlighted by leaker DuanRui on Twitter, who shared the original notch rumor).

On top of that, we’ve seen a further leak from China, courtesy of a forum post by leaker ‘Ty98’ (an unknown source), again highlighted by MacRumors. In a post actually from August, which flew under the leak radar until now, Ty98 claims that they’ve seen marketing materials from Apple, and that in them, the new MacBooks use a wallpaper which purportedly tries to hide, or minimize the visual impact, of the notch design.

The leaker states: “Today, I saw the packaging shell. Sure enough, it was the kind of wallpaper with a dark top. If you don’t look carefully, you can’t see the [notch] at all.”

Huge pinches of salt with all this spillage, naturally. Ty98 also mirrors the other claims from the weekend about the notch, and the camera not having Face ID tech. They further assert that the Touch Bar has been ditched (and the MacBook logo on the bottom bezel is gone, too), both of which have been previously rumored, along with some stranger claims.

The latter includes the nugget that the new MacBook Pro models will be thicker and heavier, which again echoes the leak at the weekend, but as we said about that at the time, it seems highly counterintuitive that the new models would be somehow bulkier. It’s possible that the translation could have gone awry here, in some respects – it would surely look like a poor show, for example, for the new MacBook Pro 16-inch to be getting Apple silicon and end up thicker in the chassis for it.


Analysis: Rumor mill is notching things up – but stay skeptical

All of this speculation around the notch still seems very shaky, and the sources are far from big hitters as well, so even though there is more than a little evidence now, we still remain highly skeptical.

That said, the patent is particularly interesting to see, though. However, if this was going to happen, and status icons were to be shifted into that small screen area atop the main display, either side of the camera, you’d have thought some kind of clues would have been spotted in macOS as to the menu bar being redeployed in this way. And obviously there have been no such sightings.

What could be the case is that this is something Apple has considered in the past, but just hasn’t moved forward with.

The good thing is we’ll know for sure about the notch very soon, as Apple is expected to reveal these much-anticipated new MacBook Pro models later today. Naturally, we’ll be on hand to cover the proceedings at Apple’s Unleashed event in full.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).