The New MacBook Pro: Everything You Need to Know, in a Nutshell


Apple has just unveiled its new line of MacBook Pro laptops, which feature a multi-touch OLED “Touch Bar”, improved screens and more. Here’s everything you need to know, in plain English.

The arrival of a new Apple laptop, iPhone or iPad is seldom something to shout about these days, with all but Apple’s most stalwart fans likely to shrug at the incremental internal upgrades and minor aesthetic changes to the hardware released each year.

But the newly unveiled MacBook Pro is actually a little bit different. Here’s everything you need to know about the new line of stylish laptops.


The Touch Bar

It may sound like some kind of seedy gentlemen’s establishment, but the Touch Bar is Apple’s official name for the new organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touch panel that sits at the top of the MacBook Pro’s keyboard in place of the row of traditional function keys. This panel is extremely high resolution as it is built on Apple’s existing Retina display technology, and can be operated much like the company’s existing trackpads and touch screens, responding to multi-input pokes, prods and gestures. The Touch Bar will come as standard on all but the entry model of new MacBook Pro.

Quite how useful this new interface will be remains to be seen, but Apple’s announcement video does a good job of showing of what it’s capable of, with the panel’s icons and virtual buttons changing in response to the application in use, much like the e-ink keyboards rumoured to be coming to Apple’s laptops in the near future.

The new MacBook Pro also comes with Touch ID, the fingerprint security sensor built into newer models of iPhone and iPad, built in. Rather than having a dedicated Touch ID button, however, Apple has integrated the technology into the laptop’s power button, meaning that simply booting the machine up will unlock it, provided the user’s fingerprint has been registered.


Size and Weight

Apple is known for producing sleek hardware, and the new model MacBook Pro is no exception, no matter which model you go for.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro measures just 14.9 mm in thickness — an impressive 17 percent thinner than the 2015 model — and is 23 percent smaller in overall volume. It’s lighter, too, weighing just 3 lbs (1.3 kg).

The 15-inch model, meanwhile, is now 14 percent thinner than before at just 15.5 mm in thickness, and is 20 percent smaller in volume. The good news for those who travel a lot but prefer working on a slightly larger display is that the 15-inch model has also lost a little weight, clocking in at four pounds (1.8kg) versus the previous model’s 4.49 pounds.

Another interesting development is that the MacBook Pro is now slimmer than even Apple’s existing MacBook Air. The Cupertino company will reportedly be keeping the Air around for now (though it’s dropping its 11-inch model), but those who choose their laptops based solely on the sleekness of their design will have some extra thinking to do.


Under the Hood

There’s a Pro in the laptop’s name for a reason: this line of laptops is designed for much more than just web browsing, and come with the guts required to run everything from touching up high-definition photos to running memory-intensive video editing software (though anyone wanting to edit three-dimensional video will probably still want to shell out for a desktop setup).

Here’s what’s inside these sleek new laptops:

13-inch “entry” model:

  • 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
  • Intel Iris Graphics 540
  • 8GB memory
  • 256GB solid-state drive
  • 2x Thunderbolt 3 ports

13-inch “mid” model:

  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
  • Intel Iris Graphics 550
  • 8GB memory
  • 256GB solid-state drive
  • 4x Thunderbolt 3 ports

15-inch model:

  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
  • Radeon Pro 450 Graphics
  • 16GB memory
  • 256GB solid-state drive
  • 4x Thunderbolt 3 ports

The lack of HDMI ports in these lists isn’t an accidental omission  — as well as dropping the world’s most common AV interface, Apple has also opted to remove both the SD card reader and MagSafe charging ports from its new MacBook Pro. Instead, users are now asked to use Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 ports which, although arguably better than the competition, will likely come as something of an annoyance for those who own anything other than Apple hardware and would rather not have to purchase new cables. The good news, however, is that despite famously dropping the traditional headphone jack from its latest smartphone, the MacBook Pro will still allow you to plug in your old ear buds.

Additional Improvements:

Long-term MacBook Pro users will be pleased to hear that Apple has made a number of additional tweaks to the existing hardware, including:

  • larger “Force Touch” trackpads (46 percent larger on the 13-inch model; twice as large as before on the 15-inch MacBook Pro)
  • a 67 percent brighter, more colourful display that consumes 30 percent less energy compared with last year’s model
  • greatly improved speakers with additional bass
  • improved keyboard with second-generation “butterfly” mechanism
  • an upgraded operating system, called Sierra, which supports everything from Apple Pay to to Siri, the voice-controlled personal assistant made famous by the iPhone 4S

Okay, okay, so how much will all this cost me?

Whether you’re an Apple aficionado or not, by now you’ll be wondering how much you’re expected to pay for all this shiny new tech. Let’s get right to it:

  • $1,499 for the 13-inch model (no Touch Bar)
  • $1,799  for the mid-range 13-inch model with Touch Bar
  • $2,399 for the top-spec 15-inch model with Touch Bar

(Prices shown are without any additional upgrades or optional overclocking.)

Consumers in the UK, unfortunately, are in for an even rougher ride than usual (due to a price increase purportedly in response to the UK’s recent decision to leave the European Union, not to mention the current weakness of the Pound) with Apple asking £1,449, £1,749 and £2,349 for the laptops, respectively. Maybe it’s time to combine a few Christmas and birthday presents?

And that’s about it for our lowdown on the new MacBook Pro. Will you be picking one up? Does the new Touch Bar excite you or leave you feeling cold? Leave us a comment below! In the meantime, for the more visually-orientated among you, we’ll leave you Apple’s official unveiling video which shows the MacBook Pro in all its glory. Enjoy!


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