Apple's Shrinking Spree To Continue With iPhone 17 And Next-Gen MacBooks

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Form and function have always been two primary ideologies that Apple has tried to blend with its various products, with varying degrees of success.  The 2013 Mac Pro, lovingly called "Trash can," was one such example where function was hampered by its limited form. In 2024, Apple released its thinner iPad Pro refresh, with its potent M4 Apple silicon chips, and that may have started a trend towards slimmer products.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple's iPhone and MacBook lineup may undergo a slimmer package transformation much like the M4 iPad Pro. Thanks to the powerful and efficient Apple silicon chips such as the M4, Apple is able to do this with much less compromise than before. With iPhone, we may not see this change until the future iPhone 17 (rather than the iPhone 16), giving Apple some more time to properly develop it. 

Regarding the M4 iPad Pro, it's considerably more svelte than its predecessor. As a current owner, I can confirm to the fact that this is the most noticeable difference in the upgrade, with the in-hand feel being lighter and easier to hold with its thinness. 

Current M3 MacBook Pro might get even thinner

The iPad Pro has a captive audience, but it is nothing like the mass adoption enjoyed by the iPhone. Therefore, it is vital that Apple gets the form factor perfect with its best-selling device, which is also its most mobile.

The efficiency of the chips that Apple has within its stable is of paramount importance too, as thickness is usually attributed to needing better cooling. As chips become more powerful and less thermally troublesome, small form factors can live without compromise. 

The MacBook Pro, another staple in the Apple lineup, should also undergo a similar thinning-down. In order to differentiate from the MacBook Air, Apple likely will keep the more powerful hardware limited to the upper end models. In theory, the MacBook Air may also get even slimmer if the technology allows it, still giving it a more casual laptop feel to keep MacBook Pro relevant. 

Smaller and more efficient batteries will also play a role here, as all of these devices require them. Thick products were needed in the past to sustain large batteries, which can now also undergo a thinner transformation. Gurman traditionally has also mentioned the Apple Watch may get similar improvements in thinness in a future release, and has reiterated that in his latest report.

The perfect balance of great battery life, powerful hardware, and thinness appears to be one of the primary engineering challenges that Apple faces with its mobile devices. If it can conquer this, as it is well on track to do so, it will continue to impress with robust hardware in smaller packages.