A week ago, one well-placed analyst said Apple would launch a MacBook Pro in late 2016 with a touch-enabled OLED panel to replace the function keys at the top of the keyboard. Now, leaked images appear to back those claims. In addition, they show that Apple may be planning to eradicate all connectors on its top-of-the-line laptop except for USB-C ports.
The images were obtained by Cult of Mac and show the aluminum chassis of a laptop. The photos are attributed to an anonymous source who claims to work for one of Apple's manufacturing partners in China. The images show a space at the top of the keyboard where an OLED panel could be placed, with KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying in a research note last week that the move could be used to allow Apple to bring its Touch ID fingerprint sensor to its MacBook range.
The speakers on the current model that sit at the back of the keyboard would need to be relocated, as images of the new model show speaker grilles at the side.
— Cult of Mac (@cultofmac) May 31, 2016
The images also show just four USB ports — presumably all of which will be USB Type C — meaning Apple would be removing the MagSafe connector for charging, SD card slot, HDMI connector and Thunderbolt ports. Apple has already replaced all ports on its 12-inch MacBook with USB-C, so it wouldn't be a surprise to continue the trend on its bigger MacBook.
It is hard to tell from the images the size and weight of the 2016 version of the MacBook Pro, but Kuo has said the new design would be thinner or lighter than the current model, thanks to a new technique to create metal injection molded hinges.
Kuo says Apple isn't planning to announce its new MacBooks at its annual developer conference in a couple of weeks as many expected, but will launch them in the final quarter of 2016.