Apple on Monday unveiled their newest MacBook Pro line-up powered by the company’s all-new M1 Pro and M1 Max customer silicon chips — the first pro chips designed for the Mac. The laptops are available in 14 and 16 inch models and deliver exceptional processing power, graphics, and machine learning (ML) performance whether running on battery or plugged in.
The newer models boast significantly higher battery life and celebrates a return to more diverse input and output ports pro users have been clamouring for since Apple took them away in favour of USB C in recent years.
The upgraded processing power, according to Apple, enables workflows previously unimaginable on a notebook, with the new MacBook Pro also featuring Liquid Retina XDR displays, a wide range of ports for advanced connectivity, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, as well as an updated audio system.
Combined with macOS Monterey, which the company has "engineered down to its core" to take full advantage of M1 Pro and M1 Max, the MacBook Pro is designed for developers, photographers, filmmakers, 3D artists, scientists, music producers, and anyone who wants the best processing power in a more mobile package.
The notch and a return to what works
The inclusion of a notch, much like that of later generation iPhones, to accommodate the 1080p FaceTime HD camera has stirred discussion especially with the notable absence of FaceID — the new Macs rely on TouchID and has also done away with the Touch Bar atop the keyboards in favour of the more traditional physical keys. The new keyboard is complemented by the “industry-best” Force Touch trackpad.
Efficiency in power and cooling
The new MacBook Pros delivers remarkable power efficiency — whether plugged in or using the battery — with the 14-inch model delivering up to 17 hours of video playback and the 16-inch model touted to deliver 21 hours of video playback.
Developers working in Xcode will be able to compile up to four times as much code and photographers will get up to two times longer battery life in Adobe Lightroom Classic. According to Apple, unlike other pro notebooks that lose performance when they are not plugged in, MacBook Pro delivers the same level of performance whether it is plugged in or using the battery.
The 14 and 16 inch models of MacBook Pro’s aluminium enclosure optimises internal space for more performance and features and is precisely machined around an advanced thermal system that can move 50 percent more air than the previous generation, even at lower fan speeds. The thermal design enables MacBook Pro to deliver sustained performance while staying cool and quiet.
For the first time, MacBook Pro will also feature Liquid Retina XDR displays — featuring the mini-LED technology used in iPad Pro. The extreme dynamic range brings HDR content to life with significant detail in shadows, better specular highlights, deeper blacks, and more vivid colours. The new display also beings ProMotion technology to the Mac, featuring an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz. ProMotion automatically varies the refresh rate to match the motion of a user’s onscreen content to help preserve battery life, and makes tasks more fluid and more responsive — video editors can also lock in a refresh rate that is optimal for their footage.
Both models come with a larger display than the previous generation — the 16 inch model offers a 16.2 inch display with 7.7 million pixels with the 14-inch model giving users a 14.2 inch active area with a total of 5.9 million pixels.
With M1 Pro, users can now connect up to two Pro Display XDRs, and with M1 Max, users can connect up to three Pro Display XDRs and a 4K TV, all at the same time.
Better connectivity, charging and the return of MagSafe
Both models feature three Thunderbolt 4 ports to connect high-speed peripherals, an SDXC card slot for fast access to media, an HDMI port for conveniently connecting to displays and TVs, and an improved headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones. MagSafe returns with MagSafe 3, featuring an updated design supporting more power and faster charging with up to a 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes.
For wireless connectivity, MacBook Pro also features Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Better camera and audio
The new MacBook Pro comes with a long awaited upgrade to a 1080p FaceTime HD camera and a camera system that taps into Apple’s image signal processor (ISP) and Neural Engine on the M1 Pro and M1 Max for computational video that enhances video quality — users appear sharper with more natural-looking skin tones.
The new MacBook Pro also boats industry-leading, studio-quality mics that have a lower noise floor, resulting in clearer calls and voice recordings. A high-fidelity six-speaker sound system features two tweeters for a clearer soundstage and four force-cancelling woofers, resulting in 80 percent more bass. The sound system also supports spatial audio, which creates a three-dimensional listening experience — users listening to music or watching a movie in Dolby Atmos, will now get a theatre-like experience.
The machines come with macOS Monterey, the latest version of Apple’s desktop operating system and combined with the powerful new M1 Pro and M1 Max delivers breakthrough performance and productivity for users.
FaceTime includes new audio and video features that make calls feel more natural and lifelike, and new Continuity tools like AirPlay to Mac enable Apple devices to work even better together. Live Text and Visual Lookup bring new intelligence features to surface useful information, a redesigned and tweaked Safari includes tab organisation with Tab Groups, and automation comes to the Mac with Shortcuts.
SharePlay, coming soon as a software update, will enable Mac users to have shared experiences together through FaceTime, and Universal Control will make it easy for users to work effortlessly across Mac and iPad.
All of Apple’s Mac apps are optimised for, and run natively on M1 Pro and M1 Max, and there are over 10,000 Universal apps and plug-ins available. According to Apple, existing Mac apps that have not yet been updated will run seamlessly with Apple’s Rosetta 2 technology, and users can also run iPhone and iPad apps directly on the Mac.
Powerful new features also come to Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, allowing creators to take full advantage of the power and performance of M1 Pro and M1 Max.
The company is currently taking preorders of the 14 and 16 inch MacBook Pro models, and they are set to be be available beginning 26 October 2021.