The star of Thursday’s Apple event was the brand new MacBook Pro with its Touch Bar — but the company also detailed a couple of systems intended to satiate users who aren’t ready for such big changes to their laptop keyboard. Specifically, it was confirmed that the 13-inch MacBook Air isn’t going to be discontinued, and there will be a tertiary variant of the new MacBook Pro intended for users looking for a smaller, slimmer system.
The new MacBook Pro is just 14.9 millimeters thick, compared to the 17-millimeter thickness of the MacBook Air. Even taking the wedged design of the Air into account, the new Pro is 13 percent smaller overall. With this in mind, Apple is offering a version of the new MacBook Pro that ditches its new Touch Bar, Touch ID support, and a couple of ports, and that uses some more cost-effective components under the hood.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar features a 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, an Intel Iris Graphics 540 GPU, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports. Like the standard 13-inch MacBook Pro revealed Thursday, it packs 8GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive. This compares to the 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, Intel Iris Graphics 550 GPU, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.
While the lower-end system misses out on the Touch Bar, it’s not completely exempt from some of the other improvements being made to the MacBook Pro line. It does feature its multifunctional ports, the larger Force Touch trackpad, and a keyboard constructed with second-generation butterfly mechanism keys.
However, while the MacBook Air is still available as of now, it seems likely that its days are numbered. Given that its unique selling point was being ultraportable, the fact that the standard MacBook Pro is now slimmer and just as light doesn’t bode well for its future — unless Apple has plans to make a truly minuscule MacBook Air, a niche currently carved out by the MacBook. Note that although the MacBook Air 13 is sticking around, the MacBook Air 11 has been discontinued.
The MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar is priced starting at $1,500, and is shipping as of today from the Apple website. Apple is also finally letting go of the previous version of the MacBook Pro without a retina display and with spinning HDDs. The 2015 versions of the MacBook Pro are still around, with the 13-inch model starting at a more modest $1,300.
Updated on 10-27-2016 by Mark Coppock: Clarify that the MacBook Air 11 and legacy MacBook Pro 13 have been discontinued.
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