How does the newly refreshed Macbook Pro compare to the previous models, and is it worth an upgrade? We take a look.
Apple has finally taken the wraps off its new MacBook Pros, and they look like some impressive machines, coming complete with that long-rumoured OLED panel and a bump in hardware.
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But is it enough to warrant an upgrade from the existing MacBook Pro, or one of the older models? With that question in mind, we thought we’d take an early look at how the 2016 MacBook Pro stacks up against the existing models. Here’s everything you need to know:
2016 MacBook Pro vs old MacBook Pro – Design
Before the new MacBook Pro arrived, the laptop’s design was around four years old. Even with that seemingly outdated design, the 2015 laptop still looks and feels as fresh as the day Apple first unveiled it.
The 2015 13-inch model weighs just 1.58kg and is 18mm thick, which isn’t as thin as the new 13-inch model, which measures in at 14.9mm. In terms of the 15-inch models, the previous design weighs 2.04kg and is also 18mm thick, while the new 15-inch model comes in at 15.5mm.
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Both the old and new models are highly portable, but the 2016 versions are undoubtedly more compact. What’s more, they takes a lot of design cues from the latest MacBook models, with four USB Type-C ports which can be used to charge the machine or as a thunderbolt, USB, display, HDMI out, or VGI ports. That means no MagSafe charger port.
The 2015 model, on the other hand, comes with a MagSafe port, two Thunderbolt 2 connections, two USB 3 ports, a headphone jack, an HDMI out port, and an SDXC card slot.
The OLED Touch Bar above the keyboard is the biggest addition to the 2015 MacBook. The tactile strip replaces the function keys, and can display context-sensitive actions depending on what you’re doing on-screen. It also means you’ll be able to log in to the laptop using a your fingerprint with Apple’s Touch ID technology. None of this appears on the 2015 model MacBook Pro.
One feature that does appear on both models is the Force Touch trackpad with pressure-sensing capabilities. The pads on both models will allow you to click at three different pressure levels – light, medium and heavy – giving you a few extra options when it comes to certain programs. The pad on the new model is much larger, however.
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Overall, the new models look to be much sleeker devices than their predecessors, and there’s no doubt the OLED touch panel is a distinctly cool and seemingly functional addition that adds to the modern design.
2016 MacBook Pro vs old MacBook Pro – Display
Both the 13-inch and 15-inch models of the 2015 MacBook Pro come with what Apple calls Retina displays. That means on the 13-inch option you’ll get a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution LED-backlit display with IPS technology, making for a pixel-per-inch density of 227. On the 15-inch model, you’ll get a 2880 x 1,800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch.
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What does that mean in practice? Well, if our experience with the 13-inch model is anything to go by, expect razor-sharp images.
And while we’re yet to test out the new versions of the MacBook Pro, we’re expecting the machines to provide similar, if not better quality. Apple says the new screen is 67% brighter than the previous version, has 67% higher contrast ratio, and 25% more colours.
In terms of resolution, the 13-inch models come with the same 2,560 x 1,600 offering, while the 15-inch variant comes with an impressive 2,880 x 1,800 resolution. We’ll have a better idea of the jump in quality once we’ve tested out the new Pros.
2016 MacBook Pro vs old MacBook Pro – Hardware
Apple has made a lot of updates to the MacBook Pro internals with the new models. We tested out the entry level version of last year’s model, which comes with 128GB flash storage, a 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Intel Iris graphics and 8GB RAM. The range also provided the option to upgrade several aspects of the internals, with the 15-inch model coming with quad-core i7s instead of the dual-core i5 chips in the 13-inch models.
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This time around, Apple has switched to Intel’s new 6th generation Skylake processors, offering an Intel Core i5 or i7 dual-core chip depending on the configuration you choose. That should ensure a noticeable bump in performance, though it should be said that last year’s models were no slouch in the performance department. You’ll get a speedy user experience either way, but the new models are much more capable than their predecessors.
In terms of RAM, the 2015 models came with either 8GB or 16GB, which is the same on the new models, depending on which variant you go for, while storage is now configurable up to 2TB and is much faster on the new MacBook Pros.
And when it comes to battery life, the new models also should manage to improve on their predecessors. The 13-inch 2015 MacBook Pro came with a 74.9-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, offering up to 10 hours wireless web and up to 12 hours iTunes film playback. On the 15-inch variant, the 99.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery provided up to nine hours wireless web and up to nine hours iTunes film playback.
The new 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 54.5Wh battery (10-hour browsing, 30-day standby) while the version with the Touch Bar comes with a 49.2Wh offering, which somehow manages to offer the same 10-hour browsing and 30-day standby. On the 15-inch version, there’s a 76Wh cell which, again offers the same 10-hour browsing, 30-day standby. We’ll have more on this when we’ve reviewed the new models.
2016 MacBook Pro vs old MacBook Pro – Software
There’s no difference here. Both the 2015 and 2016 MacBooks come with the latest macOS Sierra. The OS introduces a range of upgrades over the previous OS X El Capitan, with neater iCloud integration – particularly the Universal Clipboard and Desktop iCloud sync – as well as Siri integration, which means you’ll now be able to use the virtual assistant on your desktop.
For some new features, you’ll need to have an iOS device, which doesn’t make either the 2015 or 2016 MacBook Pro as useful for those who use an Android handset. But that really only matters if you plan on using Auto Unlock or paying for goods using Apple Pay.
Overall macOS Sierra is a stellar operating system that builds upon the previous iterations, adding new features and maintaining the best ones from OS X. It should run a bit quicker on the new MacBook Pros, but we’re not sure how noticeable the difference will be. We’ll have more once we’ve tried out the new models.
2016 MacBook Pro vs old MacBook Pro – Price
The MacBook Pro 2015 models will undoubtedly come down in price now that we’ve got the new iterations. At the time of writing, you can buy a 13-inch version starting at £999, while the 15-inch model starts at £1,599.
When it comes to the 2016 versions, Apple is offering the 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar for £1,449, while the version with the OLED panel will start at £1,749. If you go for the 15-inch variant, you’re looking at a starting price of £2,349.
2016 MacBook Pro vs old MacBook Pro – Summary
Without trying out the new models, its difficult to give a definitive verdict. At this point, it’s looking like Apple has packed in enough upgraded hardware and new design elements to justify an upgrade from last year’s model, and certainly enough to justify upgrading from older versions.
The new MacBook Pros will undoubtedly be quicker, easier to travel with, and generally sleeker than the 2015 models. Plus, the Touch Bar seems to be more than a gimmick, providing some seemingly useful functionality.
In that sense, this looks like a fairly easy one to call, but we’ll reserve our final verdict until we’ve reviewed the 2016 MacBook Pro, so stay tuned for more.
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Let us know which one you think comes out on top in the comments.