Apple recently unveiled new MacBook Pro models after a long time of not giving enough attention to the MacBook Pro.
One of the biggest features in the new 13-inch and 15-inch models is Apple's Touch Bar, a secondary OLED multi-touch panel that changes interfaces depending on the app currently used. Also on board the new MacBook are sixth-generation Skylake processors and Touch ID.
Apart from the aforementioned features, there's not much to say about the new MacBook Pro models, aside from having extra power and losing some of the ports from before. This begs the question, is it really worth the upgrade?
The base 13-inch model MacBook Pro doesn't come with the Touch Bar or the Touch ID, but it does come with a 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and an SSD with 256 GB. It has 8 GB of RAM that can be configured to 16 GB, and it sports an Intel Iris Graphics 540 GPU.
Another 13-inch model with the Touch Bar is available for an extra cost, which comes with a more powerful 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and an Intel Iris Graphics 550 GPU.
The 15-inch model comes with the Touch Bar as a standard feature, and the most expensive model has a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, an SSD with 512 GB, integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 and a beefed-up Radeon Pro 455 for its GPU with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory and automatic graphics switching.
The new butterfly-style keyboard and Force Touch trackpad are also present in the new MacBook Pro models.
Beyond that, the changes aren't huge. It's the same Retina display that came with the MacBook Pro in 2015, only 67 percent brighter. Aside from slight cosmetic changes and a considerably thinner chassis, the new MacBook Pro models don more powerful processors, with the higher end 13-inch and the 15-inch model coming with Touch Bar and Touch ID.
Overall, it's not a colossal departure from last year's models.
Are The New Features Worth The Added Cost?
Despite the sizable possibilities with the new Touch Bar, it's safe to say that there was never a demand for the feature in the first place. In fact, what users actually wanted more from an Apple laptop was a touchscreen.
There's no telling what developers can come up with Touch Bar, but for something largely unexplored, the Touch Bar seems like a nice add-on instead of a compelling selling point. Consumers aren't likely ready to break bank on the newer models just for the Touch Bar alone. If anything, maybe they'd put more consideration into the sixth-generation processors on these models as a defining factor.
For now, the Touch Bar and Touch ID are nice bonuses for the more powerful MacBook Pro models, but it's an exaggeration to call it something revolutionary since the MacBooks are perfectly functional even without them.
Should You Upgrade?
One of the best deciding factors to arrive at a conclusion is to ask yourself what exactly will you use the MacBook for. Will you use it as an all-around laptop that can do basic functions such as web browsing, word processing, intermediate photo or video editing? Or are you intending to use graphics-intensive software as part of your profession?
Apple is targeting filmmakers, editors, designers and creative professionals in trying to sell the Touch Bar as a necessary innovation in the way we interact with software. So if you're not part of that demographic, it's highly unlikely that you'll find the Touch Bar a compelling feature to have to justify the added cost.
If you're itching for a MacBook Pro but you aren't that enthusiastic about the added bells and whistles of the newer models, then last year's MacBook would serve you just fine. In fact, those who are planning to get the new MacBook pro models are in for some hefty dongle purchases since they only come with two to four USB-C ports compared with last year's model that carried an HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an SD card reader and two USB 3.0 ports.
In conclusion, if you're willing to shell out the added cost and upgrade, then do as you please. But if you're a bit skeptical, it's probably best to trust your gut.
A comprehensive comparison of last year's MacBook Pro models should equip you sufficiently and let you know exactly what you're getting if your eyes are set on the older MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Pro 2015 model starts at $1,299, while the newer base model sans the Touch Bar starts at $1,499. The 15-inch MacBook Pro 2015 model costs $1,999, while the newer 15-inch model costs $2,399. You can compare different models directly at Apple's website.