Updated Jan 24th: article originally posted Jan 21st.
With the launch of the M2-powered 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops last week, Apple has brought to market its most powerful laptops yet. Part of that quest for power has turned the MacBook Pro into a machine with a very defined audience. Even though everyone wants Tim Cook’s totemic laptop, Apple can offer you better choices.
Update: Sunday January 21st: The increase in Apple Silicon’s performance has not been matched by any new leaps forward in technology.
As Mark Gurman notes, and building on reports earlier this week, Apple is working on new technologies for the MacBook Pro. One of the most noticeable will be the introduction of an OLED screen to the MacBook Pro (along with the long-rumored OLED-enabled iPad Pro).
This OLED screen technology is also expected to introduce a touchscreen to macOS, a vital component to the platform as Apple seeks to bring macOS and iPadOS closer together. Given the M2 Pro and M2 Max look to be offering just a small step up in performance, these MacBook Pro laptops may be great for those new to the Pro laptops, but struggles to look like an attractive upgrade.
Update: Tuesday 24th Jan. The display is not the only area Apple is working on in terms of new technology as it tries to redefine what it means to be a laptop. Jack Purcher reports on the new approach to the touchpad patented by Apple this week.
“Apple’s invention covers a future MacBook with a force input/haptic output interface in the trackpad area that has no borders. The user interface surface can be a protective outer cover (e.g., transparent glass, sapphire, plastic) positioned over an active display area of the display.”
The MacBook range has always strived to feature as large a touchpad area as possible, and Apple patents to increase the practical size of the touchpad have been seen throughout the years. This patent lifts it to another level, with the physical presence of the touchpad replaced by a touch and force-sensitive region that reaches from edge to edge, right across the width of the keyboard.
That might sound futuristic, but it’s a similar technology to that used on the iPhone and iPad screens to register touch inputs, which could also explain the move towards a glass-based construction.
Now look back at the newly released MacBook Pro laptops. The lack of new technology beyond the M2 Pro and M2 Max chipsets is clear.
There’s no doubt that if you are looking for a macOS laptop where the ultimate consideration is power, then the delayed 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops are the obvious, arguably the only, choice open to you at this moment.
Powerful performance is not the only consideration. In a crowded laptop market, Apple is still playing catch up. Not everyone needs ridiculous levels of power – especially when Apple has lifted the baseline performance with 2020’s M1 and 2022’s M2 chipsets. What are the alternatives?
For day-to-day computing, Apple’s MacBook Air delivers a dependable amount of performance, but at nearly half the price if you start at the entry-level MacBook Air for $999. As well as RAM and storage expansions, Apple also offers a choice of cores in your MacBook Air, or to move up to the M2 chipset for roughly twenty percent more performance.
For many, that’s not enough of an argument for the MacBook Air… but the expected launch of a 15-inch variant later this year is. Apple has never offered a larger screened laptop on the consumer side of its portfolio. That’s about to change with this new MacBook Air, and the offer of day-to-day performance with a larger 15-inch display is an intoxicating one.
Then there’s the intriguing question of how much mobility you actually need. Would your new MacBook Pro stay immobile on your desk for the vast majority of its life? If that’s true, then why bother with a laptop at all? Apple’s Mac Mini range now supports the M2 and the M2 Pro chipset. You will need the extra peripherals, but it makes the process of upgrading much simpler and less resource intensive.
As for the practicality of having a mobile computer… Apple would quite like you to buy an iPad and use its cloud-based documents to share documents and information when you are not at your desk. The iPad for mobility and the MacBook for imagination works quite nicely.
Apple’s latest MacBook Pro laptops may be capturing the headlines, but as the company’s portfolio expands in many different directions, just asking for more power will not guarantee you the best macOS machine for your needs.
You could simply go for the biggest number on the specifications sheet. Look up from that choice, and there are many options. Price is a big consideration if ultimate power is not your goal; a larger screen to help you work in a better way with regular apps is coming, and for all the talk of mobility, would it be better to harness Apple’s cloud-based sync system on an iPad?
Apple in 2023 has many choices. Make sure to consider them