Apple set to debut faster MacBooks powered by iPhone chips during Tuesday online event

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For years, people have referred to smartphones as a "computer in your pocket." Now, Apple is taking that literally.

At 1 p.m. EST Tuesday on its website, Apple is expected to show off new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops powered by the same processing chip the company uses in its iPhone and newer iPads, which Apple calls the "A14 Bionic." It will be the company's third major product event of the fall following debuts of new iPads and iPhones.

To which, you might be asking, will the be slower with an iPhone chip powering it? Could a new Mac still process heavy-duty video and photo processing applications like it did with the previous chip, made by computer powerhouse Intel?

"Of course," says Tim Bajarin, a longtime analyst who has covered Apple since the 1980s, from his perch as president of Creative Strategies. "If it wasn't faster, Apple wouldn't be doing it."

On Apple's website, the company boasts that the newly released iPad Air, with the A14 chip, "is faster than most PC laptops." And for the iPhone, the chip has the "forty percent more transistors rev up speeds while increasing efficiency for great battery life."

Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, says the processors will be "optimized for the unique heavy duty power characteristics of the company's laptops," and it will take roughly two years to be embedded across the entire Mac product line.

Apple computers start at $999 for the basic MacBook Air, $1,299 for the 13-inch MacBook or $2,399 for the 16-inch MacBook. The more powerful iMac computers start at $1,099 for the 21-inch version, vs. $5,000 for the iMac Pro and $5,999 for the Mac Pro computer.

(By not paying Intel a license fee for every computer it sells, Bajarin says Apple could start seeing lower prices for Macs, by as much as possibly $50-$100.)

Despite offering computers at higher prices than rivals, Apple has found itself on a roll during COVID-19 times, recently announcing a record quarter with higher sales for the iPad and Mac computers.

"Apple continues to see a tidal wave of demand for its iPad and Macs as more consumers expect to see the WFH trend continue for the foreseeable future adding further importance to this week's virtual event," said Ives.

In the earnings announcement, Apple said it sold more Macs than ever before in the July/August/September quarter, a beneficiary of the work and learning from home shift fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple said it sold $9 billion worth of Macs, up from $6.9 billion in the year ago quarter.

The sales for the iPad also jumped, with revenues of $6.8 billion, vs. $4.6 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Sales of the flagship iPhone took a hit in the quarter, but that's because the new iPhones, traditionally released in September, were delayed due to manufacturing issues. The new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, released Oct. 23, were not included in the earnings report.

Two more new iPhones, the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max, will be released Friday.

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