The MacBook Pro refresh we’ve been eagerly anticipating for months is finally here, and it’s everything we dreamt it would be.
Apple’s new high-end notebooks deliver a sleeker design, Intel’s latest Skylake processors, and that magic Touch Bar with Touch ID that we’ve been hearing so much about. The only real problem is the price.
This year’s iPhone refresh may have been slightly disappointing (to most), but Apple is knocking it out of the park with its latest MacBook Pro, which is better than ever before.
Its new design is thinner, lighter and more compact — measuring just 14.9mm thick if you choose the 13-inch model. That’s 17 percent thinner than the last 13-inch model, and it’s also half a pound lighter. The 15-inch model weighs just 4 pounds.
The MacBook Pro sports a Force Touch trackpad that’s twice as big as before. The keyboard uses the second-generation butterfly switches introduced with the 12-inch MacBook. But that’s not the biggest change you’ll find under the lid.
MacBook Pro Touch Bar brings the magic
The new MacBook Pro is Apple’s first machine with a Touch Bar. It’s a long Retina display that sits above the keyboard in place of the function keys. It provides similar shortcuts, but now it’s customizable — and developers have the ability to cook up their own to make their apps easier to use.
Instead of seeing the same functions all the time, you can access more useful ones while you’re using apps like Photos or iMovie. In Safari, for instance, it displays favorites and lets you navigate. In Photos, it displays useful tools like crop and rotate.
The Touch Bar automatically adapts to the software you’re using, and you can customize it, so you choose which shortcuts you see inside your favorite apps. All of Apple’s apps already include Touch Bar support, including even Terminal! And Apple says Microsoft is baking support for Touch Bar into its Office suite.
While you’re typing, the Touch Bar displays emoji and QuickType suggestions, like on iPhone and iPad. It also displays notifications, supports Multi-Touch and lets you quickly change things like font color.
Touch ID comes to Mac
Alongside the Touch Bar is a Touch ID sensor, allowing you to unlock your MacBook Pro with your fingerprint for the first time. You can also register multiple fingerprints for different users, and quickly switch between accounts in a tap.
Touch ID can also be used to authorize Apple Pay payments on the web.
New MacBook Pro display is better than ever
The new MacBook Pro has Apple’s best Mac display ever. It’s 67 percent brighter, brings a 67 percent higher contrast ratio, and boasts 25 percent more colors than the last MacBook Pro. Despite all that, the display is even more efficient.
Every 15-inch MacBook Pro is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor with Radeon Pro graphics that feature 4GB of VRAM. They also have super-fast SSDs — they’re 50 percent faster than before — with up to 2TB of space.
The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is available with either Core i5 or Core i7 processors and Intel Iris Graphics 550 processor.
All models with the new Touch Bar pack new speakers that sound louder than before, with twice the dynamic range. They also offer four Thunderbolt 3 ports that use the USB-C style connector like the 12-inch MacBook, and any one of them can be used for charging.
Oh, there’s a headphone jack, too. Remember those?
MacBook Pro pricing
The MacBook Pro “is the new gold standard in notebook computers,” said Apple’s Phil Schiller during Thursday’s “Hello Again” Mac event. The new high-performance Apple laptops come in silver and space gray (there’s no gold or rose gold), and they became available to purchase today.
Now for the only real disappointment: pricing.
Prices start at $1,799 for the 13-inch model with Touch Bar, and $2,399 for the 15-inch model. You can order yours now from Apple.com, with shipping in two to three weeks.
The MacBook ‘Semi-Pro’ (the one without the Touch Bar)
If the Touch Bar models would break your budget, Apple introduced a new low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro that starts at $1,499. It lacks the Touch Bar, and only includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports. Traditional function keys remain, and it comes with the less-powerful Iris Graphics 540 processor.
This one (let’s call it the “MacBook Semi-Pro”) starts shipping today, but who’s going to buy it?