Apple today introduced the new 2021 MacBook Pro. It comes in two sizes, a 16-inch model as well as a new 14-inch model, and features a raft of changes, from the design to the display, the connectivity, the battery, and most importantly, the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets.
The new MacBook Pro features a brand new design that is somewhat reminiscent of the old polycarbonate MacBooks in the way the aluminum shell is curved around the sides. It’s interesting that the MacBook Pro is going back to the curved design of its predecessor while the iPhone and iPad went back to the flat sides of their predecessors.
On the inside, the new MacBook Pro also has a new keyboard nestled within an all-black background. The new model no longer has the controversial Touch Bar and instead replaces it with a standard row of function keys, which are now also full-sized to match Apple’s wireless keyboards.
The new model comes with two new displays. The 16-inch model has a 16.2-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 3456×2234. Meanwhile, the 14-inch model has a 14.2-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 3024×1964. Both models feature mini-LED backlighting, which features a cluster of 10,000 mini-LEDs for precise local dimming and contrast. Both models also feature a 120Hz refresh rate, 1600 nits peak brightness, 1000 nits sustained brightness, and full Display-P3 wide color coverage. Both panels also support HDR.
Apple has also shrunk the bezels around the panel this time and added a notch at the top for the new 1080p FaceTime HD camera. macOS has been updated to accommodate this new notch, which now neatly integrates within the menu bar at the top. The notch is certainly a lot wider than it needs to be right now, which seems like a placeholder for possible future Face Unlock support.
The new MacBook Pro also features a new sound system, consisting of a six-speaker system made up of two tweeters and four force-canceling woofers. The speakers now also support spatial audio for Dolby Atmos. The new machine also features “studio-quality” microphones with a reduced noise floor compared to the previous generation.
The new MacBook Pro runs on Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max system-on-chip processors. If you go for the smaller 14-inch model, then you just get the M1 Pro options by default but you could configure it with the M1 Max from Apple’s website. With the larger 16-inch model, you get a choice of either M1 Pro or M1 Max by default, and then you can also configure it further from Apple’s website if required.
With these new processors, the MacBook Pro is capable of having up to 32GB of unified memory on the M1 Pro or 64GB on the M1 Max. Since this is unified memory, it’s the same pool of memory available for the system as well as the graphics.
In terms of storage, Apple is now using even faster SSDs capable of up to 7.4GB/s read speeds. These can be configured from 512GB all the way to 8TB.
Apple has also revamped the connectivity on its new pro notebook. The port selection on the previous generation MacBook Pro was always a universally criticized aspect of the machine, which the new model attempts to rectify. While you’re not getting any USB-A ports there is now a full-size HDMI port and a full-size SDXC card slot joining the three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack with a more powerful amplifier for high impedance headphones. Last but not the least, Apple has also brought back the MagSafe port, which now joins the USB-C ports in being able to fast charge your new MacBook Pro.
Together with all the ports and the improved graphics, the M1 Pro MacBook Pro can support up to two 6K Pro Display XDR at the same time, while the M1 Max can support three 6K Pro Display XDR as well as a 4K display at the same time.
The new MacBook Pro also has improved battery life. The 16-inch model can do up to 21 hours of video playback and 14 hours of web browsing. Meanwhile, the 14-inch model can do 17 hours of video playback and 11 hours of web browsing.
To charge the new model, you either get a 67W USB-C charger if you get a model with the 8-core CPU M1 Pro or a 96W USB-C charger if you get any of the other CPU models. A USB-C to MagSafe 3 cable (2m) is included in the box.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 while the 16-inch starts at $2,499. They are available for order on Apple online store today and will arrive and become available in retail stores on Tuesday, October 26.