New MacBook Pro could kill off Touch Bar, rumors suggest

MacBook Pro Touch Bar
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple’s revamped MacBook Pro models which are expected to arrive at some point in 2021 could be bereft of the Touch Bar, going by fresh speculation which backs up what we’ve already heard from several sources earlier this year.

This comes from Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), as spotted by 9 to 5 Mac, with the analyst firm believing that the Touch Bar – the slim touchscreen strip that offers context-sensitive actions and shortcuts with supported apps – could be ditched by Apple, and replaced instead with a traditional row of function keys on top of the keyboard.

DSCC observes: “Touch Bars continue to be the #3 application with a 18% unit share and 1.2% revenue share in Q1’21. We expect Touch Bars to be exceeded by tablets when Apple starts the adoption of the 10.9” AMOLED iPad. Further, our sources suggest that Apple may cancel the Touch Bar in the future.”

Note the use of the word ‘may’, so there certainly seems room for doubt here – but as we said at the outset, there are several trusted Apple sources who have already indicated that the Touch Bar is on the chopping block.

That includes Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the most respected Apple leakers in terms of accuracy, and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, another heavyweight rumor peddler who has asserted in the past that Apple has been testing certain models of the redesigned MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar, due to the fact that some users don’t find it all that useful.

So it could be the case that we have some MacBook Pro models with the bar, and some without, although mixing and matching like that could cause its own problems, perhaps discouraging developers from further supporting the Touch Bar (if not every MacBook Pro owner is going to be able to make use of the functionality therein). Or, as this latest nugget suggests, the Touch Bar could simply be dropped altogether.

Out of touch

This would be an admission of defeat by Apple, of sorts, but aside from how popular or useful the Touch Bar may or may not be perceived to be, there could be other reasons behind potentially dropping the strip – perhaps bound up with touchscreen-related component shortages. Of course, removing the Touch Bar would also free up budget in terms of the cost of materials for the MacBook Pro, money which could perhaps be better spent elsewhere (indeed, maybe that purported Mini-LED screen is hoovering up huge chunks of the budget).

Time will tell, as ever, but the fact that this rumor is persisting throughout this year seems to point to an abandonment – or semi-ditching, with certain models as Gurman has suggested – is certainly a possibility.

The Touch Bar has always been a rather divisive feature, with some MacBook owners swearing by it, and others swearing at it, the latter preferring physical buttons (with less potential to develop faults, in theory) and their tactile feel instead.

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).