Apple used its “hello again” event to introduce new MacBook Pro models Thursday. Smaller, thinner, and featuring four Thunderbolt 3 ports, the signature feature is a “Touch Bar,” a Multi-Touch, Retina Display strip above the keyboard that offers users context-aware controls, keys, and other user-interface features.
Thinner and Faster
Apple said the new 15-inch MacBook Pro is 17% thinner than the previous model. It also occupies 23% less volume. Apple achieved part of that thinness by ditching the see-through, lit Apple logo on the cover. The device weighs four pounds, a full half-pound less than the previous model.
It features up to 10 hours of battery life, and is powered by a quad-core Core i7 Intel processor starting at 2.6GHz. The 13-inch model is stuck at a dual-core i5 processor starting at 2.9GHz. A third 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar features a dual-Core i5 starting at 2.0GHz.
Apple’s new MacBook Pro models have what Apple says are faster SSDs with read speeds over 3GBps. That’s gigabytes per second. RAM is faster, too, and it has four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Those ports use the USB-C connector for connecting and charging whatever you’d like.
Unlike iPhone 7, both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros have headphones jacks.
The trackpad is redesigned, as well, and is larger—”46% larger on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and twice as large on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.”
Apple also integrated Touch ID into the power button. Like iPhone and iPad, the Touch ID sensor includes a sapphire cover.
Touch Bar is the signature new feature on which Apple hung its “hello again” monicker for Thursday’s media event. I’ll write separately about that, but the key takeaway is that Touch Bar is Apple’s solution to 2-in-1 convergence devices. Rather than touching the display to manipulate user-interface elements, one touches the dedicated strip above the keyboard with context-aware commands and buttons.
It’s also where the function keys have been moved, as well as the Escape key. That’s part of the whole context-aware aspect of Touch Bar, as only those controls relevant to the task and app at hand are displayed.
Apple said the Retina Display on MacBook Pro is as thin as the display on the 12-inch MacBook. But, it’s brighter, with 500 nits of brightness. The company said that’s 67% brighter with 67% more contrast than the previous MacBook Pro display.
Pricing & Availability
There are essentially three base configurations: 13-inch, 13-inch with Touch Bar, and 15-inch with Touch Bar. Below are the starting prices for each with basic specs. Availability has been highlighted.
- The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at US$1,499, features a 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and ships today.
- The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the revolutionary Touch Bar and Touch ID starts at $1,799 (US), and features a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and ships in two to three weeks.
- The 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399 (US), features the revolutionary Touch Bar and Touch ID, a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, 16GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and ships in two to three weeks.