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Apple has a new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar

By Bryan Chan & Kenny Yeo - on 28 Oct 2016, 7:32am

Apple has a new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar

The last time Apple’s popular MacBook Pro notebooks were updated was last year. The 13-inch models received upgrades in the form of Intel’s new Broadwell processors, while the 15-inch models got a bump in clock speeds and new graphics courtesy of AMD. Though they are immensely capable machines, they were criticized for sporting the same design and were beginning to look portly in the face of their thinner and lighter PC rivals.

Well, Apple has finally announced updates to the MacBook Pro notebooks, and there will be new 13 and 15-inch models. And as rumored, both 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks will come with a customizable and adaptive display strip that replaces the row of media/function keys and is simply called the Touch Bar.

Touch Bar in action.

The Touch Bar adapts to whatever app you are using.

The Touch Bar buttons will change depending on the app, allowing for clearer shortcuts and quicker access to an app’s most commonly used functions. For instance, you might see the traditional media play buttons when in iTunes, but formatting options and even auto-correct and auto word suggestions when in Pages. And if you are playing an RPG, you might see keys for quick access to stuff like your inventory or skills and spell. It looks pretty nifty and cool, and we can't wait to try it.

TouchID makes it easy to log in and also facilitates Apple Pay for online shopping.

In addition to the Touch Bar, the new MacBook Pro notebooks will also get the TouchID sensor. The inclusion of TouchID will make it easy for users to log into their MacBooks, but more importantly, will also facilitate the use of Apple Pay for online purchases. Apple Pay functionality was something that debuted with macOS Sierra.

Notice the larger Force Touch trackpad.

Touch Bar and TouchID aside, the new MacBook Pros will also feature Force Touch trackpads that are twice as large, upgraded speakers, and keyboards with Apple’s second generation butterfly mechanism.

The display has also been improved. It is now 67 percent brighter, shows 25 percent more colors than the sRGB color space, and serves up a 67 percent higher contrast ratio. Oh, they will also come in two colors: silver and space gray.

The four Thunderbolt 3 ports can be used for power, video, and data.

The new 13-inch and 15-inch models will also feature upgraded internals. Both will be powered by Intel’s 6th generation Skylake processors. For graphics, the 13-inch models are powered by Intel Iris Graphics, while the 15-inch models will have discrete graphics in the form of AMD’s new Polaris mobile GPUs. All Macbook Pros will also feature faster PCIe SSDs that will offer up to 3.1GB/s data transfer rates. They will also get four Thunderbolt 3 ports that use USB Type-C connectors.

The new MacBook Pro notebooks are considerably more portable.

Predictably, the new MacBook Pro notebooks are also thinner and lighter. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is now just 14.9mm thick and weighs roughly 1.36kg - that’s 3.1mm thinner and 0.23kg lighter. The bezel around the display has also been drastically reduced, and the speakers have been moved to the sides of the keyboard. The net result of this nip and tuck is that the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is 23 percent smaller in volume and therefore considerably more portable.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro is more portable too. Its now 15.5mm thick compared to 18mm before, and weighs just 1.81kg compared to 2.04kg before. Overall, it’s 20 percent smaller in volume.

Here's a video that summarizes all that is new in the new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks.

Obviously, the new Touch Bar is going to cost users a little more, so to keep the MacBook Pro affordable. Apple is also offering another 13-inch MacBook Pro with traditional function keys. It will also get two less Thunderbolt 3 ports. Fortunately, this model will keep the same super slim design as the new MacBook Pro. 

The new MacBook Pros are available for order today, and the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar will ship immediately. The 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks with the new Touch Bar will begin shipping in 2 to 3 weeks time.

The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro will feature traditional function keys and two less Thunderbolt 3 ports.