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Apple upgraded its worst MacBook instead of just killing it

Apple announced two new MacBooks at WWDC 2022, a redesigned MacBook Air and a 13-inch MacBook Pro. These are Apple’s best-selling Macs, and as stated in the keynote event, they’re the two best-selling laptops across the entire industry.

While the M2 MacBook Air now sports a refreshed redesign, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has been left in a pitiful state. It uses a chassis straight from 2016, and it stands out like a sore thumb in the rest of the MacBook lineup. That means big bezels, a boxier shape, a poor webcam, and yes, even the Touch Bar. Sigh.

A graphic showing everything new with the M2 MacBook Pro.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

I was bothered when the 13-inch MacBook Pro was left in the original M1 lineup back in 2020. After all, it used the same M1 chip, and the difference in performance and battery life was almost imperceptible to the average laptop buyer. All that, and it cost a whopping $300 more. My guidance when picking between the two to everyone who asked was to always choose the cheaper MacBook Air.

But in 2022, a $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro, even with the M2, just really doesn’t make sense. It remains the most expensive of Apple’s entry-level MacBooks, if only by $100. And yet, I can’t imagine why someone would buy this over the new MacBook Air — or even the older M1 model, for that matter.

Yes, technically it’s slightly faster since it has a more robust thermal system. Apple says it gets two hours more of battery life. But that differentiation is more frustrating than helpful. This thing is called a MacBook “Pro” — and that’s what it’ll be sold as to customers at Apple Stores who can’t afford a proper M1 Pro or M1 Max MacBook Pro, which start at $2,000. These more powerful MacBooks have also been notoriously difficult to buy, with delays in production of up to two months after purchase.

But what they’ll be buying isn’t a true Pro product. Heck, it doesn’t even support more than one external monitor! More importantly, they’d be missing out on what a great value the M1 MacBook Air is, as well as the latest design and display upgrades available in the M2 MacBook Air.

There’s really no good reason for the 13-inch MacBook Pro to exist, but it’s the kind of product that continues to sell well for Apple anyways based on the name alone. It’s confusing to buyers, but as the second-best selling laptop right now, Apple isn’t about to give it up.

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Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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