Since its launch back in October 2016, a lot has been written about the new MacBook Pro. One thing that really struck us was that Apple decided to continue to offer customers a 13 or 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display model.
So, faced with the decision of which one to go for, we thought that we would take a look and see which model we would recommend.
For the sake of this article, we are only going to focus on the Touch Bar MacBook Pros. While we like the 13” MacBook Pro with function keys, it is more of a MacBook Air replacement in our eyes. Here, we wanted to examine the machines that are true MacBook Pros.
The first thing we need to mention is that we are still getting a lot of orders for the 2015 models. At first we thought that this was down to circumstances – upon release, if you wanted a new machine you had to wait about 3-4 weeks. So, if you were in a hurry for a portable professional Mac over the past few months, you may have been forced to go for the older machine. Now, however, with the exception of the ‘Configured to Order’ Macs, all MacBook Pro models are available for next day delivery.
When comparing the two models side by side, it is clear that the MacBook Pro has been upgraded. The new models are thinner and sleeker, and the addition of a Space Grey version has proven to incredibly popular. If you need to be on the move with your Mac, the newer models are lighter and the 13” model even has less mass than the MacBook Air.
The new model also features Apple’s 2nd generation butterfly keyboard. It’s easy to use, but being over 40 I cannot help but like the familiarity of the more traditional keyboard on the 2015 model. It’s a feel thing, and while I tell myself that the cool kids will prefer the butterfly keys I have resigned myself to the fact that I am not cool!
The Force Touch trackpad on the latest models is now almost double the size of its predecessor, and it relies on haptic feedback. Even with Apple’s palm rejection software I still get caught out occasionally by leaning on it when working, but I am adapting and the new trackpad is widely regarded as the best ever.
Both the 2015 and 2016 models come with Apple’s impressive Retina Display but the newer models are significantly brighter and come with a wide colour gamut, rather than the standard gamut that comes on the 2015 models. From the moment your MacBook Pro starts up, you are aware that the detail you see is greater than before. For photographers and graphic designers, having 25% more colours will prove useful.
Apple has installed the Intel’s Skylake processors into the latest model, and there are already rumours abound that Kaby Lake ones will be inserted soon. What is interesting is that when compared side by side with the 2015, there isn’t a massive improvement in processing performance. Where the 2016 model does improve is in the speed of its SSD and graphics capabilities. Its SSD can handle 2GB per second compared to 1.4GB, and the graphics are 130% better than before.
Without doubt, this is the most controversial aspect of the new models. A lot of our customers who have gone for the older model have mentioned the need to connect their Mac to existing external drives and they don’t want to be dealing with adaptors. If you need Thunderbolt 2, USB and HDMI and aren’t keen on using adaptors then go for the 2015 model. If, on the other hand, you are looking at future proofing as much as possible, go for the 2016 model. Apple have discounted their adaptors and most solutions can be found using a single adaptor.
Much has been written on the internet about battery life, but so far our customers have not reported any major issues. If everything goes to plan, you should expect to get a similar charge from the new machine as the old – around 9-10 hours.
Touch Bar and Touch ID
Gimmick or real added value? We find the Touch Bar fun, but think its real potential will be unleashed when app developers have had a bit more time to play with it. We aren’t Adobe CC users so don’t have any first-hand experience of using the Touch Bar with creative apps, but those customers who do seem to be positive about its inclusion.
Which one is right for you?
As Apple fans, we are naturally drawn to the latest and greatest device. After all, who doesn’t like a new toy? If, however, you can put that to one side, the decision of which MacBook Pro to go for isn’t as easy as you might have expected.
The newer model is a better all-round machine, but if you are not using high end graphics or performance related apps then you could happily argue that you the 2015 model is just fine. However, you might just have to live with that nagging voice in the back of your mind that tells you that you leased a workhorse when a thoroughbred was available!