MacBook Pro Overview Updated July 8, 2016

MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro family currently includes two separate product lines: the MacBook Pro ($1,099 and up from the Apple Store) and the MacBook Pro with Retina display ($1,299 and up). Apple is clearly focusing all its attention on the Retina models, as the standard MacBook Pro hasn’t been updated in years.

Premiered in 2012 as a successor to the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is sold in 13.3″ (2560×1600-pixel) and 15.4″ (2880×1800-pixel) versions, the latter at a $700 premium. Both models are lighter than the regular 13″ MacBook Pro, with the 13.3″ Retina Pro weighing only half a pound more than the 13.3″ MacBook Air. These models require few performance compromises: they have faster Core i5 and i7 processors than any other Apple laptop, much higher-resolution (and more color-accurate) screens, twin Thunderbolt 2 and twin USB 3 ports, plus an HDMI port and dual noise-canceling microphones.

As of the last (March 2015) hardware update, the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro starts with a dual-core 2.7GHz Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM, and features 10-hour battery life. By comparison, the 15.4″ Retina MacBook Pro was updated in May 2015, sporting a quad-core 2.2GHz Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, now with up to 9 hours of battery life. Both Retina models feature Force Touch pressure-sensitive/haptic feedback trackpads, plus 802.11ac wireless, but continue to lack DVD/CD drives and mechanical hard drives in favor of 128GB to 1TB of flash storage.

First released in 2006 and last redesigned in 2008, the non-Retina MacBook Pro was at one time known as the “MacBook,” and is currently available only in a 13″ version. Thicker and 1/3 heavier than the 13.3″ MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro includes a substantially faster Intel Core i5 processor, offset by a much slower 500GB hard drive and a lower-resolution 1280×800 screen. It is now the only Apple laptop with a DVD/CD drive, integrated FireWire 800 port, and Gigabit Ethernet port, all features dropped from the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display. However, while it has two USB 3 ports and a Thunderbolt 1 port, it lacks HDMI output, 802.11ac wireless, and Force Touch, delivering only 7 hours of battery life.

The MacBook Pro with Retina display remains Apple’s best overall performer for the dollar, laptop or otherwise. Though more expensive and a little larger than the MacBook Air, it delivers much more horsepower and a hugely better screen; there are even reasons to prefer the Retina MacBook Pro over an iMac for daily use unless you really need a much larger (and non-portable) display.

Apple is rumored to release a new MacBook Pro in late 2016.

296 MacBook Pro stories

August 2010 - June 2016

MacBook Pro Stories June 17

AAPL: 95.33

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What if Apple brought the OLED display function key row that is rumored for upcoming MacBooks to its Apple keyboard too? Completely disregarding what it might require technically to integrate and drive such a display in the keyboard, this concept from Curved imagines bringing that feature to iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini and other Mac users via a new version of Apple’s wireless keyboard.

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MacBook Pro Stories June 14

AAPL: 97.46

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Hidden inside all of the changes that are coming with macOS Sierra are several notable additions to the developer side of things. On Apple’s API differences webpage, you can see several new resources that hint at potential features that could be coming with future Macs, including that OLED touch bar and Touch ID support.

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MacBook Pro Stories June 11

AAPL: 98.83

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In this week’s top stories: WWDC coverage kicked into full gear ahead of Apple’s event on Monday, we discussed USB-C and upcoming MacBook Pros, and Apple announced welcomed subscription and revenue changes for the App Store.

Apple’s plan to become an energy company by selling off its excess renewable electricity was revealed this week, and we also showed you how to drive a 4K display at 60 Hz with the new 2016 MacBook in this week’s top video.

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9to5toys 

MacBook Pro Stories June 8

AAPL: 98.94

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Japanese blog Macotakara is citing a ‘reliable Chinese supplier’ as saying that Apple is planning to announce a new MacBook Air this month, with the model going on sale in August.

While the blog does have a reasonable track-record, there are a couple of reasons for not expecting this to be too big a deal if it happens at all …

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MacBook Pro Stories June 7

AAPL: 99.03

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In an opinion piece a couple of weeks ago, I described the way I hope the rumored touch-panel will be used: dynamic content available to app developers to create one-touch shortcuts. Effectively you’d get similar benefits to a physical keyboard skin but for every app. Check out that piece first if you haven’t already read it so I don’t need to repeat the same points here.

Of course, there are potential downsides to that too. At present, I’m used to being able to adjust the volume or play/pause music, for example, just by pressing a key. My fingers know where those keys are, so it’s very easy to do. If the standard functions were overwritten by apps, it would become a fiddlier process to do things we currently take for granted.

So here are a few thoughts about how Apple might give us the best of both worlds – and the somewhat provocative view that the touch-panel might still be a good thing even if it turns out to be nothing more than a gimmick …

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