Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The New MacBook Pros

After a year and a half without an update, there are — finally — new MacBook Pros, and they look really damn good. And expensive.

The new OLED contextual Touch Bar is, of course, the standout feature of these new Macs. I’m definitely the kind of user who has memorized the keyboard shortcuts for everything I do regularly, but a feature like this is going to be perfect for apps that I don’t use very often. Pro apps, in particular, tend to cram a lot of functionality into the UI — something which becomes increasingly problematic as the display size shrinks. The Touch Bar looks like a very good solution to that, by providing contextual controls within the reach of your fingers.1

There’s lots else to love about these Pros. The display now has a P3 colour gamut, there are four Thunderbolt 3 ports2 — any of which can charge the Mac — and it comes in silver and Space Grey.

But there’s one thing I’ve seen that’s rather blunted the praise for these new Macs: a not-insignificant price jump. The outgoing 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro started in Canada at $1,549, while the 15-inch was $2,449 Canadian. With the Touch Bar, the 13-inch now starts at $2,299, while the 15-inch is $2,999. In the U.S., the price differences are around $300-400.

To try to close the chasm between the new Pros and the 13-inch MacBook Air, Apple has a version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar, less-powerful processor, less-powerful graphics, and just two Thunderbolt 3 ports. As my existing Air is frequently connected to my Thunderbolt Display, this is virtually the perfect Mac for me. However, even this one starts at $1,899 in Canada. Speccing it up the way I’d want to — 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB drive, because it now appears to be soldered and therefore can’t be upgraded — would run me a bill of $2,859.

Make no mistake: I’m not complaining about the new MacBook Pros. They look incredibly powerful, ridiculously thin, and have amazing displays. But they are very spendy right now, and that’s an especially hard pill to swallow when the Mac seems to receive less attention than it used to. I think the 13-inch MacBook Pro is my next computer, but I’ll be saving enough money to buy it until the next time they update it.


  1. By the way, the Touch Bar finish shows how great a matte Retina display would look on pretty much any device. ↩︎

  2. These are now in the USB-C connector shape, bringing them in line with the MacBook. Apple’s updated MacBook lineup — excluding carryover older products at reduced price points — is now entirely USB-C, yet iPhones still come with a USB-A to Lightning cable. ↩︎