MacBook Pro 2016: Details and Review
While we at Seamgen enjoy creating innovative experiences, we do all of this on mostly Macs — and mostly Macbook Pros. Each new release cycle usually means we buy updated computers, so why not do a breakdown of the updates?
This post will serve as a guide for the Apple’s new MacBook Pro — providing all the details you need to know.
MacBook Pro Design
Just like previous MacBooks, the new Pro has the same, recognizable aluminum unibody; but now, the 13-inch is 3 lbs, down from last year’s 3.48 lbs, while the 15-inch comes in roughly at 4 lbs, with last year’s coming in at 4.49 lbs.
This puts the 13-inch Pro and 13-inch MacBook Air around the same weight. However, this year’s Pro is actually smaller than the Air. Weight difference is not the only design choice that makes the new Pro stand out, though.
First seen in the 12-inch MacBook, the new Pro has Apple’s new butterfly keyboard. The change from chiclet keys to the new butterfly design allowed for the Pro to become super thin — at only 14.9 mm for the 13-inch, and 15.5 mm for the 15-inch. The butterfly keys work from any point of applied pressure compared to the standard chiclet keys which require pressing the center.
Known for its Retina display, the Pro has always been a go-to for working professionals. This refresh brought an updated display that allows for 500 nits of brightness and a higher contrast ratio. The new display has the added benefit of P3 color, allowing for 25 percent more color than standard RGB.
Even with a thinner unibody and updated keyboard, Apple managed to squeeze in a larger Force Touch trackpad. This provides increased room for multi-finger gestures and general clicking room.
The new MacBook Pro has an updated speaker design. Now, at the corners of the keyboard are two speaker grills. Apple states that the result is,
“twice the dynamic range and up to 58 percent more volume, with two and a half times louder bass for maximum boom.”
Ports & Controversy
Currently, Apple has some very public issues brewing with regard to usability. Perhaps more dramatic than the removal of the command keys in favor of the Touch Bar is the removal of all ports aside from the headphone jack and Thunderbolt.
With the release of Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 plus, consumers were brought to the reality of having no 3.5 mm headphone jack, a staple feature found in most smartphones today. The loss of the headphone jack appeared to begin Apple’s new design philosophy: future investment.
While consumer technology today has a myriad of ports, Apple seems to be banking on a future exclusively filled with Thunderbolt 3 ports (USB-C). Instead of the usual ports seen on a laptop, the new MacBook Pro line has two Thunderbolt ports on the 13-inch and four on the 15-inch.
It is clear why Thunderbolt is the preferred method for data transfer as Apple is the co-developer of Thunderbolt technology. While MagSafe was the standard charging technology for previous MacBook’s, it has been replaced with Thunderbolt.
Apple states that Thunderbolt 3 is capable of:
“Delivering twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2, it consolidates data transfer, video output, and charging in a single, compact connector. And with the integration of USB-C, convenience is added to the speed of Thunderbolt to create a truly universal port.”
The benefits of replacing common ports with Thunderbolt can be seen most clearly with the 15-inch Pro. Having 2 ports on each side allows for an easier connection to two 4K displays as well as being able to charge from either side.
Due to this design choice, consumers who need more than Thunderbolt will have to invest in adapters and dongles. For the price of increased portability and future proof, further investment is needed to do pro work on a Pro.
MacBook Pro Touch Bar
As macOS Sierra — and previous iterations — are not built with a touch screen in mind, some have questioned if Apple will ever catch up to the competition.
The Touch Bar can be described as Apple’s solution to the lack of full touch screen support. Instead of the top row of command keys, there is now a 2160 x 60 touch screen. Inserting a touch interface to replace the command keys creates room for application developers to get more creative. In the words of Apple:
“A dynamic canvas that developers can use to add a new dimension to existing and future apps.”
The dynamic canvas has already seen new uses, with a playable port of the computer game Doom able to run on the 2160 X 60 display. Baked into the touch bar software is support for Touch ID and Apple Pay.
MacBook Pro Insides & Prices
No detailed guide would be complete without looking at the hardware inside.
Apple has provided consumers with three options, 13-inch no touch bar, 13-inch with touch bar, and 15-inch with touch bar. Each have their own customization options along with different price points.
13-Inch, No Touch Bar
Starting at a price of $1499, the preloaded hardware is:
- 2.0GHz dual–core Intel Core i5
- 256GB solid-state drive
- 8GB of RAM
- Intel Iris Graphics 540
Processor, storage, and memory are upgradable within the maximum constraints of 2.4Ghz dual-core Intel Core i7, 1TB of storage, and 16GB of RAM.
13-Inch, Touch Bar
Pricing begins at $1799. Inside is a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with the same storage and memory options as the previous model, along with Intel Iris Graphics 550.
15-Inch, Touch Bar
Pricing starts at a hefty $2399. Inside is:
- 2.6Ghz quad-core Intel Core i7
- 256GB of storage
- 16GB of RAM
- Radeon Pro 450 + Intel HD Graphics 530
Processor, storage, and memory are upgradable within the maximum constraints of 2.9Ghz dual-core Intel Core i7, and 1 or 2TB of storage.
All models promote at least 10 hours of battery life, which is the same as the 12-inch MacBook, although less than the 12 hours from the MacBook Air.
MacBook Pro Wrap Up
As the MacBook Pro opens new possibilities with the Touch Bar, the overall package seems to lack the usual appeal of the Pro.
Prior to this upgrade and the introduction of the 12-inch MacBook, picking an Apple laptop was simple: choose the MacBook Pro for power and the MacBook Air for weight and battery life. As each yearly refresh brought the two closer, the 12-inch MacBook muddled the duo as the awkward, underpowered sibling.
Now, with the new MacBook Pro, the “updated” lineup is complete, and in a matter of time, the 13-inch Air will likely be phased out, just as the 11-inch Air recently was.
Having listed all the specifications, Apple seems to have a clear user type in mind. Unfortunately, this appears to be someone willing to take the sacrifice of usability for design.
Despite this, there are a few advantages. For those working with photo and video editing software like Photos or Final Cut Pro, the touch bar adds extra usability options.
Time will reveal how 3rd party developers will utilize the touch bar. For users who do not need regular ports such as full USB or SD cards, this laptop is a worthy investment. For those who do, the MacBook Air is still a worthy machine, despite its lack in processing power.
Thanks for tuning in! If you enjoyed our breakdown, check out our other detail-packed posts!