Leading up to Monday’s Unleashed event, some last minute rumors appeared claiming that Apple would be bringing a notch to the refreshed MacBook Pro lineup. As soon as we had the opportunity, those rumors were confirmed, as Apple is bringing its most controversial design to the Mac from the iPhone. The notch first made its debut with the iPhone X, ditching the home button in favor of a larger screen and smaller bezels.
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As Apple’s event progressed, the tech-corner of Twitter promptly exploded, which is to be expected and is something that we saw quite often during Apple events. But instead of a 50/50 split like we normally see, with Apple fans being on one side and Windows fans on the other, the notch may have even more people torn.
With the iPhone 13, Apple finally did something its users have been asking for, as it ever-so-slightly slimmed down the width of the notch. Unfortunately, this doesn’t result in being able to actually see the battery percentage anymore, but hey, at least there’s more space in the status bar.
But here’s the thing about the MacBook Pro’s notch, at least from where I stand; it doesn’t matter. If you were to head over to Reddit, or certain areas of Twitter, Apple was lambasted up and down over the decision. Jokes and memes were born in seconds, and continue making rounds even at the time of this writing. But it doesn’t matter.
For the past few years, Apple fans have been relegated to the same tried-and-true design, complete with the headaches of living in “dongle town”. It’s a frustration that continues to plague users, as you need to hope that you have the right adapter or you’ll be heading to your local Apple Store or big box retailer. Those problems, which are far more frustrating than a design choice for the display, have finally been solved.
Essentially, Apple took the beloved 2015 MacBook Pro, and completely re-created it for 2021. We have a full-size HDMI port, three USB / Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SD card slot, and the return of MagSafe. What more could you really ask for? A better screen? Apple delivered there too, if you look beyond the notch for a moment.
In a world where we continue to see faster refresh rates from our phones, tablets, monitors, TVs, and compatibility with next-gen consoles, Apple brought that to the MacBook Pro. For the first time in a Mac notebook, ProMotion has arrived with its variable refresh rate. It switches between 10Hz and 120Hz depending upon what you’re looking at or doing. Doom-scrolling Twitter, and it’s one of the most fluid experiences that you’ll enjoy. Just looking at some pictures, and the refresh rate ramps down accordingly.
The biggest benefit to this is battery life, in addition to just looking so much better compared to the 60Hz panels we’ve been limited to. And Apple delivered there too. Both the MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch models feature longer battery life, as these are rated to last for up to 21 hours on a single charge.
Apple’s M1 chip already sips on battery as it is, and we’ve been able to go over a week with the MacBook Air on a single charge. And that’s with doing things like playing some Minecraft (not a big deal, I know), but also using a combination of Pixelmator Pro and Photoshop.
Let’s circle back to the notch to close this out. Thanks to @ClassicII_MrMac on Twitter, we can see that nobody should be concerned or worried about losing screen real estate because of the notch. The image provided shows that the area beneath the notch and menu bar remains at the standard 16:10 aspect ratio found in the current lineup of Mac notebooks. The resolution comes in at 3024 x 1890 for the 14-inch model, and gets bumped up to 3456 x 2160 for the 16-inch model.
If there’s one thing that I’ll complain about when it comes to the notch, is that it’s being done to only provide an upgraded 1080p selfie camera. Unlike the iPhone X and subsequent iPhone releases, the notch has not been implemented to introduce Face ID on the Mac. But can you imagine the backlash that Apple would have received had it removed the bezels altogether and ditched the FaceTime camera? Of course, I would love Face ID on the Mac, but we still have the Touch ID sensor, and Apple didn’t feel the need to add redundancy.
So instead of everyone grabbing their pitch forks, why don’t we all just sit back and chill. Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pro, with its vastly improved displays and the introduction of the M1 Pro and Max chipsets mean that Apple just put Intel and Windows notebook makers on notice. And if it bothers you that much, Apple is keeping the 2020 M1 MacBook Pro in its lineup for the time being.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.