For a change, pretty much all of the Apple rumours were true. The company took the wraps off new 14in and 16in MacBook Pros — and yes, they’re powered by Apple Silicon. Both models of MacBook Pro will launch with up to the M1 Max processor, though it’s not known at this time which options will be available in South Africa. That’ll come later.
For now, though…
Let’s talk notebook displays. Both the 14in and 16in Pros feature Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR displays, with the 14in model measuring 14.2in across the diagonal. That screen clocks in at a 3,024 x 1,924 resolution, which is impressive… until you check out the 16in Pro. That, predictably, measures 16.2in and has a huge 3,456 x 2,234 screen resolution, making it the most detailed MacBook screen to date.
ProMotion, which is what Apple calls its dynamic refresh rate tech, is on these machines as well, so you can expect refresh speeds between 10Hz and 120Hz when you need it.
There’s a new 1080p webcam in that display and yes, the new MacBook Pro now has a notch. But the macOS menu bar has been reworked so that it occupies that space rather intelligently, meaning you’re actually gaining screen space instead of wasting it on an on-paper increase. That’s… actually, that’s a neat touch.
And then there’s the matter of external screens. See, the MacBook Pros are getting a whole lot back that was (unjustly) taken away before. There are enough ports (and enough power) to let the 14in Pro connect to up to two of Apple’s Pro Display XDR monitors, while the 16in model can handle three Pro Display XDR screens and a 4K TV… at the same time.
That’s thanks to the inclusion of: an HDMI port, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, a “new” SD card slot and an upgraded 3.5mm jack in case you’re using fancy wired headphones. Oh, and there’s a new MagSafe 3 port, in case you miss the actual MagSafe as much as we do. Or you can keep using the Thunderbolt 4 port to charge, it’s up to you.
Something else that’s back? A physical top row. Apple’s retired the Touch Bar and replaced it with actual keys. We’re not sure how to feel about that — it was useful in its way, but the target audience for the Pros — those high-end designers and editors — probably feel pleased about the change.
And they’re also likely to feel pleased about the Pro’s battery life. For the 14in Pro, expect up to 17 hours of video playback between charges. For the 16in, expect 21 hours of video playback. That’s… probably a flattering metric for Apple, based on what its new processors can do in concert with macOS, but it’s also a substantial amount of uptime for when Eskom’s taken the power down.
The cost of (really) living
Local pricing is little more than a dream on announcement night, but that’s fine, we guess. It’s not like we’re getting it for pre-order this evening with delivery next week, like the rest of the civilised world, either. Overseas, the 14in MacBook Pro will set Apple fans back at least $2,000 (R30,000). The 16in Pro starts at $2,500, which is at least R36,700. Knowing how these things go this side of the planet, expect base model South African pricing to be even higher than this. We don’t even want to know what it’ll cost for a fully-loaded 16in M1 Max MacBook Pro here in South Africa — but it’ll probably be worth it (if you’re encoding several 8K video streams at once on the regular). For the rest of us, it’ll likely just be a very powerful, very expensive toy.