Update May 19: Following Apple’s update to the larger MacBook Pro, where it took the screen size from 15 inches to 16 inches by reducing the bezel size, many were expecting the 13-inch MacBook Pro to be bumped up to 14 inches. Although the keyboard was finally fixed, the display remained the same.
Today, Julio Cahchila has taken a closer look at the new technology that Apple is considering for the MacBook Pro display, Mini-LED offers the vibrancy and colour depth of OLED screens, but in a more efficient package that is both thinner and lighter:
“The display panels used in Apple’s devices use LED for backlighting purposes. Mini-LEDs, as the name implies, are smaller light-emitting diodes not bigger than 0.2mm in size, Macrumors noted.
“Panels using mini-LEDs will be required to use more LEDs compared to traditional LEDs, which will lead to an increase in the number of dimming zones. The increase in the number of total dimming zones will result in deeper blacks, improved brights, vivid colors and better contrast.”
Unfortunately this technology is not expected to be running on Apple’s laptops until 2021. The keyboard changes, but everything else stays the same. If you’re looking for a laptop that pushes the hardware envelope forwards, the current MacBook Pro may not be for you.
Update May 18: Apple’s update to the MacBook Pro range continues to look like an update to the keyboard, without pushing the specifications. This weekend’s examination of the MacOS Catalina powered laptop by Notebook Check makes it clear that half of the new laptop portfolio is… boring:
“The entry-level 13.3-inch MBP models stick with Intel’s eight-gen Coffee Lake-based silicon with either the Core i5-8257U (15 W) or Core i7-8559U (28 W), which while they are still decent chips, they aren’t especially exciting… The chips also supply the graphics performance, with the i5 model fitted with Intel’s integrated Iris Plus 645 GPU and the i7 model picking up the integrated Iris Plus 655. Neither of them are anything to write home about though.”
If you are looking at the higher priced models then you are going to pick up Intel’s tenth-generation processors, but if ‘Pro’ means graphics to you, then the hardware is going to be falling short:
“…unless you are planning on adding an eGPU to the equation, CAD designers and video editors will want to step up to the 16-inch MBP models that feature discrete AMD Radeon Pro GPUs.”
If you want a true update to the MacBook Pro, you’ll have to wait until 2021.
The recent launch of Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro completes this round of updates for the MacOS laptops. Hardware wise there’s very little difference between the MacBooks and the equivalent Windows 10 laptops. So why have the new machines been met with resounding critical acclaim?
For five years the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air were saddled with the butterfly keyboard. The thinking behind the design was in keeping with Apple’s ideals, it was lighter and slimmer, both welcome features for a laptop. The keys had more stability and allowed for more accurate typing.
But Apple’s implementation was flawed. Dust, crumbs, and other small particles could get trapped in the mechanism. Keypresses would jam and not be registered; or the key would become stuck and double, triple, or quadruple type a letter from a single key press. It was an unpredictable nightmare for anyone working at speed or on large documents.
The keyboard is the primary interface for a laptop. Apple was selling a laptop with a primary interface that was, in my opinion, not fit for purposes. And it kept selling laptops after the problem was documented. It was clear to independent repair specialists that Apple was trying different fixes to make the keyboard work. But the machines being purchased still had sub-standard keyboards. Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal demonstrated this with a wonderful article that allowed you to decide just how broken her keyboard was. Here it is with the ‘e’ and the ‘r’ key broken.
“Nop, I havn’t fogottn how to wit. No did my dito go on vacation.
‘You s, to sha th pain of using an Appl laptop kyboad that’s faild aft fou months, I could only think of on ida: tak all th bokn ltts out of my column. Thn I alizd that would mak th whol thing unadabl. So to…”
Thanks to Apple’s tight control of the ecosystem (including the monopoly it has over MacOS powered hardware) users needing a MacOS laptop for their applications, software development, or media production chain, had little choice but to buy Apple and endure. Of course the keyboards would work as they came out of the box, you could use external keyboards, and not every single keyboard would break… but emotionally every keyboard was a defect waiting to go off.
Tim Cook’s Apple has finally decided to do what it should have done a long time ago. Fix an obvious fault in its flagship laptop.
The process started in late 2019, as the 15-inch MacBook Pro picked up a larger screen and became the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The table stakes of expected specifications were met with updates to the processor, storage options, and tweaks for improved performance (notably in thermal control and battery control). In other words, Apple offered a maintenance release of the hardware It stayed in lockstep with the competition, but didn’t push onwards or try to change the landscape.
The same was mostly true of March’s update to the MacBook Air and this month’s update to the MacBook Pro. The specs were raised to meet the competition, but nothing that exceeded the various Windows 10 powered laptops. Arguably the 2020 releases are less effective than the 16-inch MacBoko Pro because the new display sizes many expected were delayed until 2021.
But… the keyboard was changed.
Although Apple has slapped a ridiculous marketing name on it, the Magic Keyboard is a return to the reliable scissor-switch mechanism. With no design flaws reported since the launch of the 16-inch laptop its probably safe to say the keyboard worries are over.
To me that explains the rapturous response to the new Macs, especially the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. Yes the specs are higher (but then so are specs on Windows 10 laptops), yes the software has been improved (but then the same is true of Windows 10), and yes that all adds up to more performance (but then, well, you get the idea).
The excitement, the digital column inches, the praise all being heaped upon the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro machines, all center on one area.
It took five years to fix the keyboard.
Well played, Apple. Well played.