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Sibling rivalry: The new MacBook Pro 13-inch vs. the old Macbook Pro 13-inch

macbook pro  inch vs apple oled with touch bar
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is over. Apple has unveiled the latest in the MacBook Pro series. The company has showcased two 13-inch models alongside a 15-inch unit. Both of these MacBook Pros are compatible with Apple’s newfangled Touch Bar feature, an OLED multi-touch bar that adapts to the application at hand. There were rumblings of such a feature leading into the event, and on that front, Apple did not disappoint.

Related: Apple’s new MacBook Pro has an OLED Touch Bar that changes with your apps

The new model is the lightest and thinnest MacBook Pro to date in an all new, sleek entirely aluminum design. The latest device is loaded with new features and an outstanding display, but should you upgrade from your old MacBook Pro for the newer model? Here’s a rundown of specs and features to help you decide if you should make the leap.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (with Retina)

old-macbook-pro

MacBook Pro 13-inch (with Touch Bar)

macbook-pro-tb

Dimensions  12.35 x 8.62 x .71 (in) 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59 (in)
Weight  3.48 pounds 3.02 pounds
Processor  5th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 6th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7
RAM  8 or 16GB LPDDR3 up to 16GB
Display  13.3-inch IPS display 13.3-inch IPS display
Resolution  2,560 x 1,600 2,560 x 1,600
Storage  128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Touch Bar No Yes
Ports  USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, Headphone jack, SDXC 4 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), any can charge; 1x 3.5mm headset
Webcam  720p FaceTime HD 720p FaceTime HD
Operating System MacOS Sierra MacOS Sierra
Battery  74.9 watt-hours 49.2-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
Price $1,299+ $1,799
Review 4.5 out of 5 stars Hands-on

Specs

The new MacBook Pro 13-inch will include the 6th-gen dual-core i7 processor, which is a modest upgrade from the 5th-gen i7 available with the previous MackBook Pro. Sadly, Apple chose to not use the latest available 7th-gen Core hardware with the new MacBook Pros, because there no Kaby Lake mobile chips with Iris Pro graphics, which help in powering the high-resolution display.

Nonetheless, the newer model is still more efficient, with higher performance capacity than the previous model. This means those who like to run multiple apps at once will surely appreciate the modest, albeit welcome, upgrades. The older MacBook Pro and the latest model also both tout 16GB of RAM.

Display

Thankfully, Apple did not sacrifice ingenuity for its ultra-thin, 0.88-millimeter display. According to Apple, the latest MacBook Pro uses the best Retina display the company has ever put in a notebook.

The new MacBook Pro is 67 percent brighter than the previous generation (500 nits), and features more contrast and a wider color gamut (P3) as well. Larger pixel aperture and high-efficiency LEDs also enable the new device to consume 30-percent less power than its older counterpart.

Resolution, however, is the same on the previous-gen MacBook Pro as the forthcoming model — 2,560 x 1,600.

Portability

As with any laptop, portability is the name of the game. This crucial component was, in large part, key to the initial popularity of the MacBook Air.

The latest MacBook Pro is the lightest and thinnest MacBook ever created. The new model is a mere 14.9-millimeters thick and weighs just 3 pounds, rendering it 17-percent thinner with 23-percent less volume than the last-gen MacBook Pro, for the 13-inch model.

But there is a potential disappointment lurking in the new MacBook Pro. The battery is much smaller. The MacBook Pro 13’s battery has decreased from 74.9 watt-hours, to 49.2 watt-hours (in the Pro with Touch Bar).  Apple claims battery life is identical to before, at 10 hours, despite the change.

Design

macbook-pro-2016_

As noted in the previous section, the latest MacBook Pro is thinner and lighter than the last-gen model. The new model also utilizes a redesigned, aluminum unibody. This eliminates the exterior plastic present on previous models, including the oh-so-popular Apple icon on the back, which is now a sleek engraving.

The most innovative addition to the new model is, without a doubt, the Touch Bar feature. As previously mentioned, the Touch Bar is a customizable display that’s located at the top of the keyboard . It responds to multi-touch gestures and is also context-sensitive with regards to any running applications (assuming they’re compatible). The tool allows you to adjust the volume and brightness, among other basic tasks, and can even carry out more sophisticated tasks related sound mixing and image editing. The Touch Bar can be customized on a user-by-user basis, too, meaning you can add emojis to the display or a host of your favorite websites. It’s entirely up to you.

The trackpad is also nearly 50-percent larger on the new MacBook Pro. Apple attributes the increase in size to its Force Touch technology, which is incorporated in the new trackpad. This cuts down on the rather cumbersome and design-hindering internal switch with the previous tracking module.

To unlock the new MacBook Pro, you merely need to use the new Touch ID feature integrated into Touch Bar. This is a feature iPhone and iPad users have grown accustom to over the years, and it’s a welcome addition. Once you’ve set your fingerprint with the device, you can unlock the Mac and switch between accounts with ease. This feature also lets you securely make purchases on your MackBook Pro.

Ports

Few of the old ports were spared with the new MacBook Pro upgrade. With the latest model, Apple has done away with the MagSafe and HDMI ports, as well as the SD card slot and the Thunderbolt 2 ports. Considering Apple also chose to drop the standard USB port, you’ll probably need to a few adapters for connectivity purposes. These ports were replaced by four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, all of which can be used to charge your device and connect additional peripherals.

Apple MacBook Pro OLED with Touch Bar
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

This will be a controversial change. It enhances flexibility in the long run, but also increase inconvenience right now. For example, all iPhone owners will need to buy an adapter to plug their iPhone into the new MacBook Pro 13, which seems…strange, to say the least.

Availability and pricing

The 13-inch, Touch Bar version of the Macbook Pro starts at $1,500, whereas the Touch Bar-equipped unit starts at $1,800. The model without the Touch Bar is currently available, but the Touch Bar version — and the 15-inch version thereof — is only available for pre-order, with a shipping estimate of three to four weeks. The previous-gen MackBook Pro 13-inch is still available for $1,299.

Conclusion

With the latest MacBook Pro 13-inch, Apple has created the most visually appealing unit in the entire MacBook Pro lineup. The new device is sleeker and lighter than previous MacBook Pros, namely because of the all-aluminum build. The Touch Bar appears to be a very handy tool, too, which will grant users greater flexibility when using a variety of apps. The addition of Touch ID was inevitable, and we’re glad it has finally arrived to shore up the login process and enhance security overall.

With that said, many core aspects of the MacBook Pro 13 haven’t changed. The new model isn’t much quicker, doesn’t last any longer on a charge, and has a similar display. And it’s not clear if the Touch Bar will be an awesome addition, or a mediocre add-on.

Our take? Upgrade if your Mac is already showing signs of old age. If it’s still going strong, then stick with what you have. The MacBook Pro 13 is a solid upgrade, but no key feature sticks out as a must-have.

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