Apple's radical MacBook Pro design change emerges into the light

Apple has a new carbon-free aluminium smelting process to make the 16-inch MacBook Pro greener than ever

Apple MacBook Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

If you buy a 16-inch MacBook Pro in the next few months, you might be getting a radically different machine than the one we reviewed last year.

Whether you notice or not is another matter. This, as far as we know, isn’t a change to the internals but the aluminium chassis, which is getting a green makeover as part of Apple’s stated aim to reduce its carbon footprint.

An Apple press release revealed the change, which stated that new, “low carbon aluminum”is currently being produced and “intended for use with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.” Apple describes the new-look manufacturing process as the “first-ever direct carbon-free aluminum smelting process.”

The fact that it’s “intended for use” suggests it hasn’t reached MacBook Pro production lines yet, and I suppose it’s possible that means Apple is saving it for a refresh of the hardware. It has, after all, been nearly a year since the 16-inch MacBook Pro first appeared on the Apple website, and given new chips are coming soon from both Apple and Intel, it might be that the new, greener MacBook Pro will actually be souped up as well as better for the planet. After all, Apple just says it’s for “the 16-inch MacBook Pro” – it doesn’t say whether it means the existing product or the product line.     

“Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “The innovations powering our environmental journey are not only good for the planet — they’ve helped us make our products more energy efficient and bring new sources of clean energy online around the world. Climate action can be the foundation for a new era of innovative potential, job creation, and durable economic growth.

“With our commitment to carbon neutrality, we hope to be a ripple in the pond that creates a much larger change.”

Another ripple in said pond is reportedly a big change in the way Apple deals with chargers in the iPhone 12. Rumors say that we’re either getting more rugged, fabric cables or nothing at all, which should help with Earth’s ginormous e-waste problem, even if it angers a few consumers along the way.

We’ll have to wait and see which path Apple takes. We’ll find out at the company’s iPhone 12 unveil which, despite early warnings it might be postponed for Covid shaped reasons, is now back on for its traditional September slot. Watch this space.