Apple Unveils Thinner MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, Touch ID, More

2 minute read
| Analysis

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.

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Apple’s New MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

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.

New Stuff

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

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.

Display

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.

9
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
9 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
geoduckmrboba1domsinLee Dronickarchimedes Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
geoduck
Member
geoduck

From a discussion released yesterday. One topic brought up was the price. “But we don’t design for price, we design for the experience and the quality people expect from Mac. Phill Schiller Unfortunately these systems won’t provide the experience for a lot of people. Either they will have to settle for less than the computer they wanted/needed because they can’t afford more, or will have to forgo a Mac entirely. I found it more than a little ironic that they opened with Apple’s commitment to Accessibility in a presentation where the prices of the systems make them inaccessible for a… Read more »

mrboba1
Member
mrboba1

This is quite literally the first time I have been actually sad about an Apple product announcement. We are in the market for 1 or 2 new computers in the next year, and I was hoping these machines would be the fix for that. We have a 2015 MBP with 512GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 2.7Ghz/3.1 boost that was USD1699 retail. Our upgrade path for the same $$ is either: the non-bar MBP with 512GB, 2.0/3.1GHz or the bar MBP with 1/2 the storage and faster processor for an extra $100. And many times, this machine is operating closed-lid. I see… Read more »

geoduck
Member
geoduck

domsin
Technically replaceable RAM and HDD are a bit more prone to failure. Coming unplugged and that sort of thing. Practically that hardly ever happens. Technically the sockets take up space so soldering everything together makes for a more compact system.

In reality I only see accountancy and marketing here and I think it’s going to backfire. I expect Mac sales to continue to decline in the face of competition from Win10, which is vastly better than 8 or even 7, and other computer manufacturers that are bringing out very impressive, indeed much more impressive hardware for less money.

domsin
Member
domsin

I seriously think Apple is headed in the wrong direction with these new MacBook models. They are less customizable and less repairable. I wouldn’t buy one for myself and I think that more naive computer shoppers will be disappointed after they purchase one. I could be wrong but I’m worried about loss of market share going forward.

Open question: Why is Apple doing this? Are there good engineering reasons to reduce customizability and repairability? If so, I am not privy to the reasons. Would appreciate any feedback to educate me.

Lee Dronick
Member
Lee Dronick

I will have to try them and see just how useful the Touch Bar is.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

256GB SSD? That’s absurd. With these premium prices 512 should be the minimum. 16GB RAM should be the minimum. These are PRO systems for crying out loud.

archimedes
Member
archimedes

Make that “changed an entire industry” or perhaps “changed the designs of the entire laptop industry.”
Sadly I can’t seem to edit my post.

archimedes
Member
archimedes

The flash storage speed and size and the new GPU with 4GB should be nice upgrades. The possibility of a single-port docking connection for display, power, and data is also nice. I will miss MagSafe – MagSafe-equipped laptops have been pulled off my desk exactly zero times. And the illuminated Apple logo has been my friend since its semi-accidental appearance years ago in ghostly, inverted form. It is too bad that they haven’t (yet?) added a 32GB RAM configuration for these new MBPs, but one can always dream… I also dream of Apple shipping a 5K display to replace the… Read more »

Member
Rick Allen

The thing I think you should have mentioned Bryan is the loss of the MagSafe charging port. That for me is key as it has saved me from laptop death more than once.