Happy MacBook Pro day! After what feels like years of rumors and speculation, Apple today finally unveiled its new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Surprisingly, this model will be replacing the existing 15-inch Pro in the company’s lineup. If you’ve been hesitant about buying a 15-inch Pro, this would be a good time to buy since you’ll now get a bigger screen.
Let’s talk about that screen. Apple says it was able to fit the display in the same body of the 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro by including slimmer bezels around it. The screen has a resolution of 3072×1920 and sports up to 500 nits of brightness. It can display the entire P3 wide color gamut, but unfortunately, there’s no HDR support. Still, though, it should be a nice panel to stare at all day.
As odd as it sounds, the screen is probably the most boring part of the laptop. It’s not that it isn’t cool or nice to see, but there are more important updates with the new MacBook Pro that kind of steal the limelight.
The keyboard is a perfect example of that. For years, Apple has used its own proprietary butterfly switch to make the keyboards on its laptops slimmer, ultra-clicky, and “still comfortable for everyday use.” You might be able to get used to typing on a keyboard with such low travel, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good keyboard in terms of quality.
It’s no secret that users all around the world have had problems with their MacBook keyboards. Some keys fall off the laptops, others stop working, and some register more than one click at the same time. This has led to some pretty extreme backlash from customers, and with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple will finally properly address these concerns.
Starting with this new model, Apple will switch back to a much more traditional scissor mechanism. This means the 16-inch Pro will get better travel, better durability, and better reliability right off the bat. It also ships with a physical Escape key, an inverted “T” layout for the arrow keys, a Touch Bar, Touch ID, and a new name: “Magic Keyboard.” *sarcastic eye roll here
Given the company’s shaky keyboard history over recent years, it would make sense for anybody to be hesitant as to whether the keyboard is actually fixed or not. When reviews start popping up in a week or two, we’ll find out.
Notably, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and all other MacBooks will stick with the butterfly switch, at least for now.
Another important aspect of the new 16-inch Pro: specs.
Under the hood, Apple includes either a six-core 9th-gen Intel Core i7 processor or a six-core i9. The baseline configuration gets you 16GB of 2666MHz DDR4 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. Meanwhile, you can spec this machine up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB (yep, that’s the number 8) of storage, if your heart desires. Unless you’re doing literally all of your work on this laptop, I can’t see anybody actually buying this configuration. But if you want the best of the best, Apple will gladly sell it to you for a premium.
Apple also throws in AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics with the laptop paired with GDDR6 video memory and an 8GB VRAM option.
With Apple’s thin-and-light design philosophy, thermal and heat management becomes a serious conversation, especially for more powerful machines. The previous 15-inch MacBook Pro was infamous for getting extremely hot during intense operations, so naturally, Apple wants to fix that with the new 16-inch model.
According to the company, the CPU now has a 35 percent larger heat sink area, while the fans can now push through 28 percent more air. This mixed with optimizations under the hood should deliver a cooler computer, although the fans may ramp up more often than not.
Obviously, with a bigger laptop, you get a bigger battery, and Apple went all out in this department. The largest rechargeable Lithium ion battery the FAA will let companies put in devices is 100Wh, so that’s just what Apple did. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro has a 100Wh cell which the company says can last up to 11 hours when browsing the web wirelessly.
I can’t say whether this is a good thing since, I’m sure, people who buy this thing won’t just be browsing the web for 11 hours a day. Regardless, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll get you through a full day.
Another area where Apple went all-out is audio. The 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a six-speaker sound system that includes the company’s own “force-cancelling woofers.” Essentially, this means it limits vibrations caused by the speakers at higher volumes to deliver stronger bass and less rattling overall.
Apple’s calling this sound system “high-fidelity,” and it may very well be. But just note that it isn’t like the company included a fancy DAC or something to power hi-fi headphones.
The mics on the laptop have also been upgraded. Apple says when you record your speech, it’ll sound like you’re using a proper USB microphone. Only real-world use will determine whether this is true, so stay tuned.
That’s all that’s really new about the laptop. It still has an aluminum design, it ships with four USB-C ports (no SD card reader, sadly), there’s still a 720p webcam, and it comes out of the box with macOS Catalina. It’s still a MacBook through and through, just with a bunch of improvements that will (hopefully) help to repair the laptop’s name in the market.
Pricing and availability
Apple says the new 16-inch MacBook Pro will start at $2,399 and go all the way up to $6,099 for the highest-end model. It’s available online starting today, while Apple Stores will get it later this week. Other retailers will get the laptop “soon.”