Skip to main content

Here’s why most people shouldn’t buy the 16-inch MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro 16 was a huge comeback for Apple’s high-end laptops. It may not be revolutionary, but the design has been brought up to date, performance has been vastly improved, and the keyboard is quite possibly the best Apple has ever made. The whole device has been tuned up and upgraded in almost every way.

Which is why it may sound strange to hear me say that you shouldn’t buy it. Well, let me rephrase that — most people shouldn’t buy it. While it’s head and shoulders above Apple’s recent efforts, it’s still out of reach for most people.

A great time to upgrade?

Photos by Riley Young

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing the MacBook Pro 16. It’s the first MacBook in years that has made me excited, and I’d love to upgrade my 2015 MacBook Pro for this shiny new delight.

Instead of every positive being met by an equal and opposite drawback, there’s remarkably little putting me off the new MacBook Pro.

It’s a machine designed to make pros happy. If you use heavy duty video-rendering or photo-editing apps, the redesigned thermal system and new AMD Navi graphics cards in the MacBook Pro 16 will make a noticeable difference to your work.

But there’s a problem. Most people don’t use heavy duty video-rendering or photo-editing apps. If you just want a MacBook with a comfortable, reliable keyboard and modern, slimmed-down bezels, the MacBook Pro 16 is your only choice.

The other options, such as the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air, don’t include these sought-after features. With more than a thousand bucks separating these from the 16-inch MacBook Pro, you’ll be left wondering how much that keyboard is really worth.

Macbook Air (2018) Review
Riley Young/Digital Trends

In deciding which device to put decidedly non-pro features (like a decent keyboard) in, Apple faced something of a Catch 22 situation. Limit these features to a high-end Mac and it’d be accused of pricing out average consumers. Make them available in its more affordable models and it’d be censured for not doing enough to make pro users feel special. In the end, it decided the $2,000+ MacBook Pro 16 would be where these features would make their debut.

Yet there’s reason to believe Apple’s latest MacBook is just the first of several that will receive the new keyboard, slimmer bezels, and more. If you’re in the market for exactly these things, you shouldn’t buy the MacBook Pro 16. Let me explain.

Good things come to those who wait

A few months ago, when rumors of the MacBook Pro 16 were rife, we were expecting it to be a total overhaul and Apple’s attempt to go “all out” on the device. Instead, the MacBook Pro 16 is more of a hotfix of sorts; it’s not a paradigm shift in the way the iPhone X was.

That’s encouraging for those who want to see some of its features make their way across to other MacBooks. Apple hasn’t siphoned off the MacBook Pro 16 as some sort of ultra-high-end device (contrary to some of the rumors before it launched), there’s nothing preventing its features spreading to the rest of its laptop lineup.

That’s not just wishful thinking on my part, either.

Back in late October 2019, prominent Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a report stating that a scissor-switch-enabled MacBook would be released in mid-2020. At the time, many of us thought this might be the MacBook Pro 16. But now that the MacBook Pro 16 has actually launched, that report has taken on a new aspect. It now looks like Kuo may have been referring to a totally different device — and that the new Magic Keyboard will therefore spread to other devices.

Nothing is for sure though. In an interview with CNET, Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller was asked whether the new scissor-switch keyboard would make it into other MacBooks, or whether they would continue with the butterfly design. His response? “We are continuing both keyboard designs.”

Of course, this may just be a sensible marketing response to avoid throwing the butterfly keyboard under the bus. As Schiller said in the interview, some people really like its stability. But given the remarkably positive response to the MacBook Pro 16’s keyboard, I’d be shocked if it was limited to this model only.

If you want these features in a more affordable MacBook, your best bet is to wait and be patient.

But even if we take Phil Schiller’s statement at face value and the Magic Keyboard is more of a limited affair, there are plenty of other aspects of the MacBook Pro 16 that will likely be doled out to the other MacBooks like the good kids at Christmas. From the slimmer bezels and incredible speakers to the larger battery and all-new cooling system, Apple would be crazy to restrict these elements to one device.

That means if you want some of these features in a more affordable MacBook, your best bet is to wait and be patient. Apple has a strong record of spreading features from its flagship products to the others in its catalog, from the Retina display to USB-C ports.

And if you’re at the other end of the spectrum, there are still reasons to wait. Apple is known to be working on a mini-LED display for the MacBook Pro, which will seriously improve the visual experience, while it also has its own ARM processors up its sleeve. We may see the fruits of these labors as early as 2020.

So for now, save your money. There’s no need to shell out $2,399 (or more) if you want to grab some of the Magic Keyboard action. A few months down the line you’ll be able to get your hands on it for a fraction of the cost.

Editors' Recommendations

Alex Blake
In ancient times, people like Alex would have been shunned for their nerdy ways and strange opinions on cheese. Today, he…
Hoping for an OLED MacBook Pro? We’ve got some bad news
An Apple MacBook Pro 14 sits open on a table.

If you’ve been waiting for Apple to launch an OLED MacBook Pro, there’s some bad news: it might not come out for another three years. That’s a serious wait considering many of Apple’s rivals have already brought out some of the best OLED laptops on the market.

The news comes from display industry tipster Ross Young, who is well-known for having a solid track record when it comes to Apple leaks. Young tweeted a link to a Reuters article outlining Samsung’s plans for an OLED fabrication plant, adding the comment: “This fab is for 14” and 16” OLED MacBook Pros from 2026.”

Read more
Apple could be working on a secret OLED MacBook Air
The screen of the MacBook Air M2.

Apple could be planning a new MacBook Air equipped with an OLED display, according to Korean tech website TheElec. Interestingly, there are suggestions that the MacBook Air could get this high-end tech before Apple’s flagship MacBook Pro models.

Right now, none of Apple’s MacBook laptops come with OLED panels, and instead use Liquid Retina displays based on LCD technology. That could all change if TheElec’s claims are accurate, however.

Read more
The Lenovo Slim Pro is the best answer to the MacBook Pro I’ve seen yet
A press photo of the Slim Pro 9i on a white background.

Since the launch of the redesigned MacBook Pro in 2021, Windows laptops have struggled to produce a true rival. The new Lenovo Slim Pro, though, looks to be the full package, especially in terms of its performance and screen.

The top-of-the-line new model, the Slim Pro 9i, matches the MacBook Pro in a few important ways, starting with the display. This is one of the first Windows laptops oriented toward creatives that adopts a mini-LED screen, switching from the OLED options that were previously available.

Read more