It’s been upwards of four years since we’ve gotten a redesign of the MacBook Pro—and that day has finally come. This morning in Cupertino, Apple celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first PowerBook by announcing the new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro.
The big feature, which has been leaked and rumored and talked about endlessly, is the Touch Bar. Essentially, Apple has removed the top row of keys on the keyboard and replaced it with a touchscreen Retina Display bar. Apple has never believed in touchscreen laptops like every other laptop manufacturer, so the Touch Bar is their way of competing.
The Touch Bar is contextual, so it gives users quick access to menus and options they can be used two-handed. It gives you a lot of options in apps like Photos, Mail, and Safari—a lot of which are similar to what you might find in iOS. Some third party apps were shown that work in tandem with Touch Bar as well such as Photoshop and DJ Pro. Apple even mentioned that Microsoft is working on support for Touch Bar for all of its Office products.
On the far right is a square of the bar that is reserved for Touch ID and the Power Button. The fingerprint scanner works just like it does in iOS, for unlocking your MacBook and Apple Pay authentication.
As for the machine itself, the MacBook Pro is a complete redesign, but it really does look similar to the old MacBook Pro. However, there are some changes to notice right off the bat. First off, both the 13-inch and 15-inch are thinner and lighter than previous versions—and now come in a Space Grey variant. Apple made it a point to say that the new MacBook Pro is actually thinner and the same weight, compared to the old MacBook Air.
Most of the changes are to be noticed when you open it up and actually start using it. The trackpad is now twice as big and the keyboard uses the same “butterfly” mechanism as found in the 12-inch MacBook. Under the hood, you’ve got the 6th generation quadcore Core i7 option in the 15-inch version, while the 13-inch version has a dualcore Core i5 and i7 option. The 15-inch version also has an integrated AMD Radeon Pro graphics chip with up to 4GB of VRAM. The 13-inch version uses an Intel Iris graphics chip with up to 64MB of eDRAM.
Other important changes in the new MacBook Pro include the replacement of all ports with just four Thunderbolt ports, which Apple pointed out uses a USB-C architecture. Yup—that means no MagSafe power, no USB 3.0 ports, no HDMI ports, and SD card slot. All of that is done through the interchangeable Thunderbolt ports (and a series of dongles). Fortunately, Apple did keep the headphone jack around for another year.
Although they didn’t rule out the possibility of one day bringing back the MacBook Air, Apple doesn’t seem like they’ll updating it any time soon. To balance out the pricing issue, Apple also announced a 13-inch MacBook Pro that has the traditional function keys without the Touch Bar. This 13-incher starts at $1499, while the Touch Bar versions start at $1799 and $2399.
Here’s how the specs between the three versions compare:
All three versions can be ordered today. The 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar is available today, while the other two will be available in the next few weeks.