After waiting for a few years to upgrade my MBP and being really disappointed with the 2016 models I ended up getting a 15'’ 2015 model.
Let me tell you why.
Intel is having a hard time shrinking transistors and only getting meager performance increases. In practice this means that there isn’t much of a difference with the newer models in CPU based tasks. The 4th gen CPU is still great.
As for the GPU, yes the one on the 2016 models is much better, but it’s seriously overpriced for a mediocre performance compared to the Nvidia 10 series available on Windows laptops. Plus I already have plenty of GPU power in my desktops anyway.
The SSDs on the 2016 models are fast but those on the 2015 models are close. I think I’ll be able to survive with 1200MB/s and 1800MB/s of write and read speeds. Poor me.
The 2016 models come with a brighter display in the P3 color space targeted for video production. Frankly, I rarely use my MBP above 60% of brightness and I’m fine with sRGB color space.
I calibrated the display of the 2015 and I got a DeltaE average of 0.3 which is phenomenal. To give you an idea, the human eye can’t generally distinguish a difference below 2 of DeltaE.
The 2016 model comes with an average DeltaE of 4 and 9.5 of maximum which is surprisingly mediocre for a machine of this price and market segment. Not even close to appropriate for serious color work.
I simply hate the new butterfly Apple keyboard. I don’t like the shallow key travel and it’s super noisy. Since I spend a lot of time writing code, or… um… arguing in Reddit, this was a deal breaker for me. I love chiclet keyboards and the one on the previous retina models is still one of the best ever made.
5. Battery life
Apple advertised the 2016 models with 10 hours of battery life, but many users have been getting less than 4 hours with light use. For the first time ever, Consumer Reports are not recommending the new MBPs based precisely on inconsistent battery life.
The 2015 model gives me easily 8+ hours while using Chrome and doing moderate coding tasks.
6. Touch bar
This was another deal breaker for me. I find the whole idea to be a gimmick that only adds cost, consumes more battery and will be expensive to repair when it fails.
I concede that Touch ID would be nice to have but it’s not a big deal since I use a password manager.
USB-C is going to be the future yada yada, but right now, and at least for the next few years, most people will keep using USB-A. Not even Apple is selling USB-C keyboards or mice, neither do major manufacturers like Logitech.
I also couldn’t care less about Thunderbolt 3. I’ve had Thunderbolt in a number of Macs and never used it for anything other than connecting an external display. Not only USB3 is plenty of speed for me and most people, it’s also more ubiquitous and more affordable. If I ever need more speed I will always have Thunderbolt 2 available with close to 1000MB/s.
Also, why didn’t Apple care to include a couple of USB-C adapters with such expensive machines? When I bought one of the first Intel MBPs a decade ago it came with a DVI-VGA adapter, an IR remote, a microfiber cloth, and… drumroll… a cable for the power brick.
8. Battle tested workhorse
The old axiom of not buying a 1st gen Apple product has never been more true. There have been numerous reports of GPU problems, battery drainage, graphical glitches, and even speakers blown out in Bootcamp due to faulty drivers.
After suffering the 2011 MBP GPU fiasco my trust in Apple was gone and these new machines don’t inspire any confidence.
The 2015 model has been proven to be a reliable machine. It makes sense since Apple has released many upgrades after the model was introduced in 2012. Any issues have were ironed out a long time ago.
It simply didn’t make any sense for me to buy a 2016 model. I couldn’t care less about a thinner machine or a gigantic trackpad. Apple sacrificed too much to solve a problem that wasn’t there and introduced drastic changes that IMO don’t make much sense.
I’ve been using Apple products for more than 10 years and there’s always been a delicate balance between ideals and reality. Usually a successful one. But this is the 2013 Mac Pro all over again or Apple completely out of touch with what their users want or need.
The 2015 15'’ MBP is a great improvement over my previous MBP and this investment should last at least for 4 years. Even if Phill thinks this is sad.
Hopefully the 2016 MBPs will be a bump on the road and not a sign of the times to come.