It’s no secret that I’ve been a huge fan of Apple’s 12-inch MacBook. Last year, I wrote that it was the product that excited me the most about Apple’s future, noting of its design, new trackpad and keyboard technology, and overall daily impact on my workflow. A year and a half after the device was announced, we’re now seeing Apple take much of what made the 12-inch MacBook so great and apply it to the MacBook Pro lineup.
While there has been some skepticism surrounding the new MacBook Pros, I am incredibly excited for mine to arrive. And that’s partly because of my love for the 12-inch model.
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It’s ever apparent that the 12-inch MacBook was used in part by Apple to prepare for the changes the new MacBook Pro brings to the table. In fact, during Apple’s keynote unveiling the new Mac, Phil Schiller himself quipped that the 12-inch MacBook is really what set the trend for the new MacBook Pros:
That 12-inch MacBook started us on this path. It created many of the pioneering technologies that we’ve now adapted and evolved for the MacBook Pro.
Once you compare the MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook, it’s pretty apparent that what Schiller said is without a doubt true. The 12-inch MacBook was Apple’s way of conditioning us for the new MacBook Pros.
While the overall design of the MacBook Pro is similar to previous generation’s in that it features a box design as opposed to a wedge like the MacBook Air, there are clearly some design cues picked up from the 12-inch MacBook. One of the most apparent changes is the keyboard. The MacBook keyboard features the Butterfly mechanism that Apple first incorporated with the 12-inch MacBook. This change allows for the keyboard design to take up an overall less amount of space, thus making the MacBook Pro thinner and smaller in terms of footprint.
While Apple says that the MacBook Pro features what’s essentially a second-gen Butterfly mechanism, early reviews have noted that there’s not a huge difference in terms of overall key travel. The new keyboard certainly takes some getting used to, but I grew to love it within a couple of weeks of usage.
Apple is also offering the MacBook Pro in space gray, something it first offered with the 12-inch MacBook for the Mac lineup. Additionally, Apple moved the “MacBook Pro” branding back to the front of the display, which is where the “MacBook” branding has been on the 12-inch since the beginning.
It’s little things like these that don’t faze me a bit with the new MacBook Pro because of the 12-inch MacBook.
Perhaps the biggest way Apple used the 12-inch MacBook to prime us for the new MacBook Pros, however, is in terms of ports. The 12-inch MacBook, of course, featured a singular connection for USB-C and a headphone jack. The MacBook Pro includes four USB-C connections and a headphone jack.
It’s clear that USB-C is the future and as Zac noted earlier this week, the use of USB-C is not something to complain about. In launching the 12-inch MacBook with USB-C over a year and a half ago, Apple allowed time for the accessory and adapter market to mature before bringing the new ports to its iconic laptop tier.
Personally, I’m already acquainted USB-C and absolutely welcome a MacBook Pro with four ports. I have a USB-C to Lightning cable for connecting my phone to my laptop, a USB-C to USB-A adapter for the rare (and I mean rare) instances where I have to plug in a flash drive or another peripheral, and a USB-C to HDMI adapter. Sure this means I’m using adapters, but the fact of the matter is that USB-C is much more capable than any single port on the previous generation MacBook Pro, even with early compatibility issues.
The MacBook Pro also brings with it improvements over the 12-inch MacBook. The most obvious difference between the two machines is power. And if there’s one complaint I have with the 12-inch MacBook, it’s that it’s not at all the most powerful machine on the market. In fact the iPhone 7 gives it a run for its money on benchmarks. And macOS Sierra made it much worse. Since upgrading to Sierra, there are moments while navigating throughout the operating system that the “beach ball” will appear and everything will lock up for about 5-10 seconds. After that, it’s fine, but there’s definitely a noticeable speed difference since updating to Sierra and it doesn’t look like Apple is going to remedy it with a point release fix.
Some argue that the MacBook Pros still aren’t as powerful as they should be with the “Pro” branding, but my belief here is that with how closely Apple optimizes its operating systems for each machine it offers, it can afford to not necessarily stuff the fastest and most high-end (and bulky) parts inside. It’s similar to the iPhone vs Android argument. Android phones are generally more “powerful” in terms of specs (Apple’s Ax processors notwithstanding), but the iPhone is generally believed to run smoother and more efficiently. Relating this back to the 12-inch MacBook, a PC with similar specs would seem far slower purely because of the lack of optimization.
In fact, I’d say that the primary reason I’m upgrading to the new MacBook Pro from my 12-inch is because I simply need more power. I have the first generation 12-inch model and while it gets the job done, I’ve realized that I could definitely use a bit more power in day-to-day use.
It’s ultimately my love of the 12-inch that pushed me towards the 13-inch MacBook Pro versus the larger 15-inch model. The power and size of the 13-inch is the perfect combination in my mind. I opted for the top-end spec configuration with 512GB of storage. I’m also on-the-go quite a bit, so the idea of lugging around a 15-inch computer doesn’t sound especially pleasing. In fact, going from 12-inch to 13-inch is somewhat nerve-wracking, but in the end I think the added power will make it more than worth it.
Overall, I have very few complaints with the new MacBook Pro. The 12-inch MacBook definitely prepared me for the changes and I think that once people use the new machines for a few weeks, they’ll be in the same boat.
I think the new MacBook Pros pack the perfect punch of size and power and using the 12-inch MacBook for a year and a half definitely helped shape this belief.
I’ll even say this: I am far, far more excited for my new MacBook Pro to arrive than I was for both the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. I 100 percent intend on using this new MacBook Pro for years to come.