Apple unveiled a slate of new MacBooks toward the end of October, with updated internals, refreshed design, and of course the highly-anticipated Touch Bar. It was a long time coming, and in the interim the premium laptop market has become incredibly competitive. With every major manufacturer debuting their own version of a high-end premium laptop in the last year or two, the new MacBook Pro will have to compete in ways that the previous generations never had to.
It’s a new world out there for the MacBook Pro, so with that in mind let’s take a look at every change that Apple made for this new iteration.
New, slimmer design
At the event, Apple unveiled three new MacBook Pro models. Two 13-inch models and one 15-inch model, all of which received a number of design updates, though only the two higher-end options received the context-sensitive touch screen, the Touch Bar.
The new MacBook Pro lineup features a number of changes to the iconic external design, including the removal of the glowing apple from the back of the monitor. Taking its place is a glossy apple engraved into the aluminum unibody. More importantly, all three received a major update to their overall profile. They’re slimmer, lighter, and according to Apple, better built than ever before.
|MacBook Pro 13-inch||MacBook Pro 13-inch with Touch Bar||MacBook Pro 15-inch with Touch Bar|
|Dimensions||0.59 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches||0.59 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches||0.61 x 13.75 x 9.48 inches|
|Weight||3.02 pounds||3.02 pounds||4.02 pounds|
|Display||13.3-inch 2,560 x 1,600, 60Hz Retina Display||13.3-inch 2,560 x 1,600, 60Hz Retina Display||15.4-inch 2,880 x 1,800, 60Hz Retina Display|
|Inputs||2x USB-C Ports, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack||4x USB-C Ports, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack||4x USB-C Ports, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Battery Life||Approximately 10 hours||Approximately 10 hours||Approximately 10 hours|
Additionally, all three MacBook Pros feature the same revamped keyboard with updated butterfly switches, and make the leap to a Force Touch trackpad. These two elements might not seem like much, but they’re the two aspects of a notebook that the user interacts with most, so quality is key here.
By all accounts, including our own hands-on impressions, the new MacBook keyboard and Force Touch trackpad are a joy to use. They’re the result of a uniquely Apple design philosophy, a marriage between hardware and user interface that Apple has mastered over the years.
All about the Touch Bar
While only two of the new MacBook Pro models features the Touch Bar, it’s easily the most recognizable feature of the new lineup. It’s something nobody else has, and it’s a pretty cool little addition to an already solid laptop. The Touch Bar features a context-sensitive multi-touch display built on OLED technology, in the place of a row of function keys. The Touch Bar still fulfills the role those keys once played, offering up a standard set of options like brightness, playback, and volume control.
The most eye-catching feature of the Touch Bar though, is definitely the way it interfaces with your apps. If an app supports the Touch Bar, it will transform based on what you’re currently working on. Apple showed off some of that functionality at the event, illustrating the numerous ways a user might interact with the Touch Bar.
We saw the multi-touch display transform into a color wheel, a tool to control playback in a video editing suite, and even a row of emojis. It’s a really versatile feature, and if it ends up working the way Apple says it will, you might find yourself using your Touch Bar more than you ever used those dusty old function keys.
Also of note, the Touch Bar integrates support for Apple’s Touch ID system directly into the MacBook Pro’s power button. So, instead of keying in your credit card information, now you’ll be able to just authorize purchases with a touch of your finger. Just like the Touch Bar itself though, the lowest priced MacBook Pro does not support this feature.