Apple just revealed its latest set of 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops, opening them up for pre-orders right now too. As expected, the latest MacBook Pro laptops come with a bevy of improvements and optimizations, including smaller bezels, a much better display, more ports, and most importantly, an improved version of the same Apple System on a Chip (SoC) that was released last year.
Here's everything that you need to know about the 2021 MacBook Pro laptops.
What are the new M1 chips for the 2021 MacBook Pro called?
Just as we predicted in an earlier article, Apple released a follow-up to the M1 chip last year, which are the M1 Pro and the M1 Max.
You can configure the more affordable 14-inch MacBook Pro with either the M1 Pro or M1 Max that can have 10 CPU cores with a 14- or 16-core GPU (M1 Pro) or 24- and 32-core GPU (M1 Max). 16GB RAM comes as a standard as well, but you can upgrade it to 32GB with the M1 Pro or 64GB with the M1 Max depending on your needs.
Does the 2021 MacBook Pro come with new displays?
Apple fitted both of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with mini-LED screens. Apple refers to these as Liquid Retina XDR and is similar to what's used in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This design choice results in better backlight control, image contrast, and a wider dynamic range. In addition to this, Apple's latest line of MacBook Pros also supports ProMotion technology for 120Hz refresh rates with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness, and 1,600 nits of peak brightness.
Even though both the 14-inch and the 16-inch model supports P3 color gamut and True Tone, their native solutions are slightly different. The former has a native resolution of 3024-by-1964 at 254 pixels per inch, unlike the latter whose native resolution is 3456-by-2234 at 254 pixels per inch.
Apple is offering the new MacBook Pros in Silver and Space Grey. Both models feature a new aluminum case design that makes them appear smaller compared to previous generations. But, despite the more svelte body, the new MacBook Pro comes with three Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports as well as an HDMI 2.0 port, an SDXC card slot, and a headphone jack that supports high-impedance audio devices.
How is the battery life of the 2021 MacBook Pro?
Interestingly, Apple packed the models with adapters with different wattages. For example, the 8-core 14-inch MacBook Pro has a 67-watt power adapter. Meanwhile, the 10-core 14-inch MacBook Pro has a 96-watt power adapter. Finally, all 16-inch MacBook Pros come with 140-watt adapters. You may also buy a higher wattage adapter than what your MacBook Pro model originally comes with at a $20 premium.
The $20 is well worth it if you're after the fast-charging option. Only the 96-watt and 140-watt adapters support faster charging on the newer MacBook Pros and are capable of charging up to 50 percent in just 30 minutes.
Speaking of charging, Apple claims that the 14-inch MacBook Pro and its 70-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery can last up to 17 hours of movie playback via Apple TV and 11 hours of wireless web surfing. In comparison, the beefier 16-inch MacBook Pro and its 100-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery have been rated for up to 21 hours of Apple TV app movie playback and 14 hours of web surfing.
What's up with the controversial notch on the 2021 MacBook Pro?
One of the more controversial design choices for the 2021 MacBook Pro is the notch. The presence of the notch negates the slimmer bezels of the newer MacBook Pros. Thankfully, the notch isn't just for show - it houses a 1080p FaceTime HD camera. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with Apple's Face ID system, for some reason, nor does it support Center Stage like the iPad.
Did Apple improve the Audio on the 2021 MacBook Pro?
One of the more underrated upgrades that Apple has made to the 2021 MacBook Pro is in its audio playback and recording capabilities. Apple added a six-speaker system to the new MacBook Pro that's composed of four tweeters and two woofers. The latter are force-canceling, which Apple claims is capable of delivering 80% more bass than older models. Additionally, Apple also added spatial audio support with dynamic head tracking if you're playing video or music with the new third-gen AirPods, AirPods Pro, and the AirPods Max.
Apple describes the built-in three-mic array as "studio-quality" with a high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming with a headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones.
Has Apple finally removed the Touch Bar from the 2021 MacBook Pro?
Apple's decision to introduce the Touch Bar in 2016 wasn't well-received. The "brilliant, Retina-quality Multi-Touch display" didn't have many fans but had numerous naysayers. Five years later and Apple has finally decided to remove it. The Function keys are back in the new MacBook Pro and they're full-sized too. You can also find a Touch ID button on the upper right portion of the keyboard with a circular ring similar to that found on the keyboard of the iMac.
How much is Apple selling the 2021 MacBook Pro for?
Apple made the new MacBook Pros available for pre-order as soon as they were revealed. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait to get your hands on one. Although Apple promises that shipments will start as early as next week, supply chain issues and the ongoing chip shortage have already pushed back certain orders to as late as December.
Here is a price breakdown of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros and their specifications:
- $1,999 - M1 Pro 8-core CPU, 14-core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD (14-inch)
- $2,499 - M1 Pro 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD (14-inch)
- $2,499 - M1 Pro 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD (16-inch)
- $2,699 - M1 Pro 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD (16-inch)
- $3,499 - M1 Max 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD (16-inch)
It's nice that Apple has put a lot of effort into separating its lineup of laptops. Unlike in previous years, Apple has made it easier to distinguish which laptop is best for which. For example, if you prefer a more portable option, you can always get a MacBook Air or a 13-inch MacBook Pro. However, if you need something more powerful, the 14-inch MacBook Pro exists as well as the 16-inch MacBook Pro.