Apple on Wednesday officially announced its long-awaited, 16-inch MacBook Pro refresh in a press release and during private media briefings in New York City.
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The new MacBook Pro actually slots in an existing tier in the Apple portable Mac lineup. But it also comes with a number of substantial updates and improved capabilities. Here’s what you should know about its new features and whether it’s for you.
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While the new MacBook Pro model isn’t necessarily a complete overhaul, it does sport some significantly upgraded features.
For one, the device now has a slightly larger display thanks to slimmer and more uniform bezels. The screen measures 16 inches instead of 15.4 inches on the diagonal.
Apple has also replaced the ailing butterfly keyboard with a new Magic Keyboard that sports more reliable scissor switches. This new keyboard is likely going to be much more reliable than butterfly keyboards — a fact that Apple even admits to.
Interestingly, it is also reportedly much easier to repair thanks to the ability to replace or service individual keys. That may do away with the need for a lot of top case replacements down the road.
The Touch Bar is still here, but Apple has separated the Touch ID sensor from the Touch ID itself. There’s also a physical ESC key now — a fact that will be important to many pro Mac users.
As far as the internals, Apple has equipped the MacBook Pro with new Intel 9th-generation processors with up to 8 cores. It can also support up to 64GB of RAM and up to a massive 8TB of SSD storage.
Users can also opt for AMD Radeon Pro 500M graphics with 8GB of VRAM and GDDR6 video memory.
Apple also said that it’s made changes to the thermal performance of the device, which should reduce throttling under load.
There are some smaller but welcome changes, too. The battery is now larger at 100Wh, there’s a redesigned six-speaker sound system and a new microphone with upgraded audio performance.
It’s also worth noting that the device is slightly thicker and wider than past models. It’s also about .28 pounds heavier.
Should you buy one?
The new 16-inch MacBook Pro actually replaces the old 15.4-inch model (which was refreshed earlier this year). That means if you want a MacBook Pro that isn’t a 13-inch device, you’ll need to but the new 16-inch MacBook Pro.
- Butterfly keyboard haters: The butterfly keyboard is gone. If you’ve had consistent trouble with the keyboard style, then the 16-inch MacBook Pro will likely be a breath of fresh air for you.
- Writers and coders: Users who type a lot will likely find the new Magic Keyboard more comfortable and reliable than butterfly keyboards. The addition of a physical ESC key is also sure to make a lot of coders and programmers happy.
- Audio workers: Apple says that the new speaker system will bring “high-fidelity sound” for musicians, podcasters and video editors. If you work with audio in a professional setting, the 16-inch MacBook Pro may be a great fit.
– Video editors: If you work with videos, graphic development or you just like to game, the 16-inch MacBook Pro may offer substantial performance boosts. Apple says that it can offer up to 80 percent faster graphics performance than MacBook Pro models.
- Other professionals: Look, this is a MacBook Pro. It’s powerful enough to help you perform a variety of professional and creative tasks. That includes everything from music production to app development. If you’re in the market for a pro laptop, the new model may be enough to sway you.
- Overdue upgraders: If you’re holding onto an older MacBook Pro (possibly one without a butterfly keyboard), then the new 16-inch model may be perfect for you. It does away with most of the issues of recent MacBook Pro models and comes with the legendary power and convenience of Apple’s pro laptops.
There are, of course, other users who may benefit from the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Whether or not you buy one is really up to your individual circumstances.
Reasons not to buy one
If you have a 2017, 2018 or 2019 MacBook Pro model, you probably don’t need the new 16-inch device.
Users with the funds to buy an entirely new laptop for the new keyboard or upgraded performance should go ahead. But if you’re on a budget, you should not feel like you need to throw down some money to get the new device.
While there are tangible upgrades to the keyboard and audio system, pretty much everything else about the 16-inch MacBook Pro is incremental in nature (even the addition .6 inches on the display). It’s not an overhaul.
Fans of the 13-inch MacBook Pro footprint would also do well to wait it out. Apple is likely to bring the new Magic Keyboard and other related updates to the 13-inch form factor sometime next year. Don’t sacrifice your size preference for the upgrades just yet.
Similarly, rumors have also claimed that next year’s MacBook Air model will also be getting the new Magic Keyboard. If you’re a current MacBook Air user or a prospective buyer, you may want to wait until you can get an Air model with the better keyboard.
How to get one
Despite earlier rumors that the 16-inch MacBook Pro would be much more expensive than current models, that (thankfully) did not turn out to be the case.
Instead, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399 in the U.S. That’s the exact same price as the previous 15-inch model.
The device is currently available starting today at Apple.com and through the Apple Store app.
If you’d like to try one for yourself in-person, it should be hitting display stands at Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Resellers in the U.S. later this week.
For readers in other parts of the world, Apple only says that the device will be “coming soon” to other countries and regions.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.