Thursday, November 14, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The 16-inch MacBook Pro

Apple (tweet, Hacker News):

The new Magic Keyboard features a refined scissor mechanism with 1 mm travel for a responsive, comfortable, and quiet typing experience. The Touch Bar puts powerful shortcuts front and center, and Touch ID provides fast authentication. A dedicated Escape key allows quick switching between modes and views. And the inverted-T arrow keys enable fluid navigation whether you’re flying through lines of code, navigating spreadsheets, or gaming.


16‑inch (diagonal) LED‑backlit display with IPS technology; 3072‑by‑1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors


Configurable to 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, or 8TB SSD


Configurable to 32GB or 64GB of memory


Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports


720p FaceTime HD camera


High‑fidelity six‑speaker system with force‑cancelling woofers


Studio‑quality three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming

It sounds like the keyboard is truly fixed, which was the most important thing, but also table stakes. I’m surprised but pleased that there’s a new (old) arrow key arrangement.

The second most important thing, but less talked about, is the improved thermals. Assuming they got it right—and they seem to have on the other recently revised Macs—this is a huge deal.

The separate Esc key and Touch ID are good, as is the increased distance between the Touch Bar and keyboard, but I would still prefer an option to have no Touch Bar at all. I use F-keys all the time and also find that physical keys work better for adjusting the brightness and volume. Perhaps I would feel differently if there were haptics or if the software had advanced, but there’s still no public way to add global Touch Bar items. The potential seems unrealized. The Touch Bar itself is smaller and shows different items with different spacing and alignment.

The larger display is welcome, but we’re talking 0.6 inches here. I had the 17-inch before and would like to see something like that again. The 16-inch still can’t natively do 1680x1050 at Retina, the (optional) resolution of the old 15-inch MacBook Pro. And the display is still glossy-only; I prefer matte.

The higher RAM and SSD ceilings are great, but I would rather the Mac be a little larger so they could be upgradable. The MacBook Pro’s processor, display, and other main components should last for a very long time. My 2012 MacBook Pro still has decent performance. But RAM and storage needs will keep increasing. It doesn’t make sense to pay up-front for capacity that you don’t need today, plus Apple’s markup, for components that are rapidly getting cheaper. Microsoft, at least, is moving in that direction with a replaceable SSD.

The level pricing of the base configurations is much better than I expected, though it’s too bad they couldn’t get it back to the pre–Touch Bar starting price. Where it can get crazy is with the RAM and SSD upgrades ($800 for 64 GB of RAM, $2,400 for 8 TB SSD). My iMac has 40 GB of RAM and regularly uses 12 GB of swap, without doing anything particularly intensive. So moving from 4 to 6/8 cores and with the idea of keeping the Mac for a long time, 32 GB seems iffy.

Everyone talks about the (still absent) SD Card slot in relation to photography, but I liked having it for secondary storage and Time Machine. The cards are cheap and tiny and, unlike USB-C drives/sticks, can easily remain connected when you put the Mac in a case.

If I were using it as a primary Mac, I’d still want more ports. And, in any case, at least one USB-A would be nice to avoid having to carry a dongle. Apple remains committed to USB-C, which seems to have barely made progress since 2016.

Charging still takes up one of the four ports. Safety aside, USB-C is still much less pleasant to plug and unplug than MagSafe.

Most of the improvement in battery capacity is relative to the 2016–2018 models, rather than 2015, but it’s good to see it move in the right direction, even if it makes the Mac slightly larger and heavier.

I’d still prefer a smaller trackpad to avoid accidental input. And it looks like the edges and indentation in front of the trackpad remain sharp, as if you aren’t supposed to put your hands near there.

Will I get one? If this MacBook Pro had been released in 2016, I would have upgraded my original Retina MacBook Pro to a loaded configuration (well, not 8 TB) and used it as my main Mac. Since I didn’t like the 2016 MacBook Pros, I instead switched to an iMac. Now, using the 16-inch MacBook Pro my main Mac would be a regression given the external display situation and the fact that it requires Catalina.

For my auxiliary/travel Mac, it would be a big improvement but overkill. What I’m looking for there doesn’t exist in Apple’s lineup. I’d prefer something cheaper with less power, fewer premium features, and a larger screen. As long as my 2012 MacBook Pro continues to run the latest macOS versions, I may as well wait and see what happens with the 13-inch Pro and MacBook Air and see whether the keyboard ends up being as reliable as we hope.

John Gruber (tweet):

There’s also more space between keys — about 0.5mm. This difference is much more noticeable by feel than by sight. Making it easier to feel the gaps between keys really does make a difference. Like the 15-inch MacBook Pro, all 16-inch models come with the Touch Bar. But even there, there’s a slight improvement: it’s been nudged further above the top row of keys, to help avoid accidental touches. No haptic feedback or any other functional changes to the Touch Bar, though.


And they didn’t throw away the good parts of the butterfly keyboard — including excellent backlighting and especially the increased stability, where keys go down flat even when pressed off-center. The keys on this keyboard don’t wobble like the keys on pre-2016 MacBook Pro keyboards do.

Typing is very quiet on the new keyboard, and the sound it does make is satisfying. Less click-ity, more chunk-ity.


Lastly, Apple seems very confident that this new keyboard design is durable and reliable. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is not covered by Apple’s keyboard service program, because they apparently don’t need to be.

Marcin Krzyzanowski:

MBP’15 2018 wasn’t included in the program since day one too. MBP’15 2018 is not included in Anti-Reflective Display Coating replacement program, but definitely suffer from the very same disease.

I mean: It means nothing

Marco Arment (tweet):

Two years ago, I wrote a wishlist to fix the MacBook Pro, and the 16-inch doesn’t actually deliver most of it. But time and technological progress are slowly getting Apple off the hook[…]

I mostly disagree about the latter. I love his graphs of the key spacing and travel.

Dr. Drang:

But I have opinions about chart style, and I think a handful of small improvements could be made. Most of these could not be made within the charting software Marco was using (Numbers, I think); the charts would have to be imported into a drawing package and manipulated there. But the small extra effort would be worth it.

Marco Arment:

And I didn’t get everything I wanted. But many of my wishlist items fall outside of what Apple is likely to ever do, and all of them are much less important than making the computer’s primary input device functional, acceptable, and reliable. Now we have the luxury of being able to complain about less-urgent wishes.

The biggest change is that I finally don’t feel like it’s constantly fighting me. Its design doesn’t feel spiteful. It’s a computer that doesn’t seem to hate being a computer. I’m not afraid to use it in the world, and I’m not avoiding using it because it’s unpleasant. The butterfly keyboard was the opposite, it never got better, I never got used to it, and good riddance to it.

Following in the footsteps of the fantastic iMac Pro, updated Mac Mini, and upcoming Mac Pro, the release of the 16-inch MacBook Pro ends a painful chapter of neglect and hubristic design of the Mac. Apple has finally turned the ship around.

Jason Snell:

Apple doesn’t like to admit that it’s wrong, but will be the first to let you know when it’s made an improvement. In this case, the Apple representatives I talked to admitted that while many people liked the butterfly keyboard, “some didn’t.” (That feels like a bit of an understatement.) Regardless, Apple spent time reconsidering what users wanted out of their keyboards, including doing a lot of internal research—and the result is that this new MacBook Pro has a keyboard based on the other 2015 Apple keyboard design, in the hope that this keyboard will be more broadly appealing to laptop users.


Pixel density has increased from 220 pixels per inch to 226 ppi, so this is a higher resolution screen, not just a bigger one. Still, Apple has set this laptop to default to a scaled size that’s the retina equivalent of 1792 by 1120.


The 16-inch display can also alter its refresh rate, which is especially helpful for video editors. You can choose from 47.95, 48, 50, 59.94, and 60 Hertz refresh rates.

Phil Schiller (MacRumors):

As you know, a number of years ago we started a new keyboard technology with this butterfly keyboard and began it with MacBook. It had some things it did really well, like creating a much more stable key platform. It felt more firm and flat under your finger -- some people really like that, but other people weren’t really happy with that. We got sort of a mixed reaction. We had some quality issues we had to work on.

But a few years back, we decided that while we were advancing the butterfly keyboard, we would also -- specifically for our pro customer -- go back and really talk to many pro customers about what they most want in a keyboard and did a bunch of research.


Will this keyboard find its way to other MacBooks? There are folks who don’t need the power of the MacBook Pro, but may appreciate the tactile experience.

I can’t say today. We are continuing both keyboard designs.

Hopefully, he doesn’t mean that a working keyboard is a Pro feature. They had better be fixing the rest of the notebook lineup for early 2020.

See also:

Myke Hurley:

Apple are saying that the new MacBook Pro has microphones that can be used ‘for creating superclean podcasts or music recordings on the go’

So we put that to the test[…]

Benjamin Mayo:

I railed on Apple’s SSD pricing before so here’s some (earned) praise.

As recently as this July, it would cost $2800 to get 4 TB SSD in a MacBook Pro. Now it’s $2400 for 8 TB.

Marco Arment:

My Overcast build script (timed xcodebuild after clean) averaged:

~40 seconds on the 16” MBP (8-core 2.4 GHz i9)
~38 seconds on the iMac Pro (10-core)


I haven’t disabled Turbo Boost on mine yet, but running the highest CPU offered during setup (lots of Dropbox, search indexing, Xcode decompression, build scripts, etc.), I did hear the fans spin up occasionally and it got warm sometimes.

Kaya Thomas:

The 16" MacBook Pro is much faster for fresh builds and incremental builds in Xcode. Some stats below for the @Calm app:

MBP 15":
216 seconds for a fresh build
7 seconds for an incremental build

MBP 16":
135 seconds for a fresh build
2 seconds for an incremental build

One thing that was extremely noticeable is how QUIET the 16" MacBook Pro is. While running Xcode usually my computer sounds like its running a full marathon 😭 but I barely heard a peep from the new one!! Even if the fans started up they didn’t stay on for long at all.

Marco Arment:

Some 16” MBP Overcast-build testing with Turbo Boost disabled (with Turbo Boost Switcher Pro), which is great if you’re willing to give up a good chunk of peak performance in exchange for much less heat, noise, and battery drain[…]

Frank A. Krueger:

I wonder if a 110 Wh battery is really that more dangerous than a 99.5 Wh? My guess is they have absolutely no evidence either way.

Zach Holman:

The new MacBook Pro is a monster- 64GB of RAM! First time with 8TB of SSD in a laptop! And... <checks notes> still the same 720p FaceTime camera. What is this, 2005? Does no one at Apple ever work remotely?

if only Apple had another product line with stupid absurd camera technology that shoots fucking lasers into your face to identify it and take crazy good quality photos and video so they could put it into a laptop too

Martin Gordon:

It’s worth noting that while the 16” is larger than the Touch Bar MBP, it is also slightly smaller/lighter than the beloved 2015 MBP. For those of us who were still holding on to our 2015s, any existing sleeves/backpacks/etc should still work with the 16”.

Mark Gurman:

Also notable that this 16-inch MBP is running the same Intel parts as the previous update 6 months ago and WiFi 5 versus WiFi 6 on the new iPhones. Very easy to believe this will be updated again within 6-9 months alongside the 13-inch and the Air getting the new keyboards.

Nick Heer:

Apple has not announced new models of the MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro, both of which still ship today with an unreliable keyboard, so this absolutely is just a first step. There’s also an open class action suit in California concerning the keyboards in Apple’s laptops from 2015 through this year, and that highlights the “finally” aspect of this improved keyboard. Having a reliable input system is basically the ground floor in computer hardware, and it’s absurd that this design was able to ship at all, let alone across three product lines for four years.

Quinn Nelson:

I’m proud of Apple in 2019. They’ve fixed laptop thermal throttling, they’ve made their phones and laptops thicker and heavier for the sake of improved battery, they’ve given us a laptop keyboard that doesn’t suck, etc. They’ve listened. For the first time in a longgg time.


Update (2019-11-18): Upgrade (via Jason Snell):

Dongletown is proud of its local sports team, the Butterflies! Most other teams consider them a key rival, even though the Butterflies don’t travel very far. This shirt is guaranteed to command attention. We’re happy to provide several color and style options, so you can control your wardrobe--or if you prefer to shift strategies, buy them all and run up your tab! We’re not sure if this style will ever return, so buy one now and wear it upside-down for that “inverted tee” feeling.

Jason Snell:

Apple is clearly guided, at least in part, by a design philosophy that considers size and weight to be the enemy of good. I like to call this Jobs’s Law, though it could just as easily be called the Ive Doctrine: Always strive for the next version of your product to be thinner and lighter than the current one.


I’m not going to argue that Apple has made a massive course correction when it comes to creating products—it’s not that dramatic. But what has happened, somewhere, is that Apple has reordered its priority list.

Kaya Thomas:

The 64 GB of RAM, meanwhile, is a dream for development. I had a MacBook Pro with just 16 GB of RAM, and it couldn’t handle running certain simulators in Xcode while simultaneously running other apps, and even after upgrading to 32 GB there were still performance lags. The new MacBook Pro can handle running Xcode and the simulators without overheating or getting any “running out of application memory” warnings.

Curtis Herbert:

OMG, these fans for the i9 2019 MBP are no joke. But, build times were literally cut in half. 🥳

Colin Cornaby:

A moderately spec'd 2019 Macbook Pro really puts the base Mac Pro in a tough spot. The base Mac Pro wins in a few places, but costs twice as much. The Mac Pro makes a lot more sense if you're going to be doing a lot of upgrades. Otherwise the Macbook Pro is a great deal.

Chaim Gartenberg (Slashdot):

And iFixit’s teardown of the new laptop confirms that promise, with Apple using scissor switches that appear to be virtually identical the ones it uses in its Magic Keyboards, first introduced in 2015.

Paul Haddad:

Apple’s trade in value on a high-end Macbook 2015. I mean, I can’t even disagree that much it is the worst Mac I’ve ever bought.

Quinn Nelson:

Also, the TouchID sensor is matte now instead of glossy so it matches all the other keys and doesn’t ever look gross and smeared.

Ben Thompson:

Or, to put it another way, the power — and downside — of monopoly. No, Apple does not have a monopoly in computers — how amazing would that be! — but the company does have a monopoly on macOS. It sells the only hardware that runs macOS, which is why millions of customers kept buying computers that, particularly in the last couple of years, were widely reported to be at risk of significant problems.

To be clear, Apple didn’t commit some sort of crime here. At the same time, it is hard to imagine the butterfly keyboard persisting for four-and-a-half years and counting if the company faced any sort of competition. Integration can produce a superior user experience, but once an integrated product faces no more competition it can result in something that is downright user-hostile.


This article is not a legal argument: in particular, I have used the term “monopoly” very loosely. What makes Apple so brilliant from a business perspective is that it has managed to, via hardware and software integration, earn monopoly profits in a way that would not normally be classified as a monopoly.

Joe Cieplinski:

It’s not a bad keyboard, by any stretch of the imagination. And it certainly tramples the old keyboard on the 2015 and prior models. But the extra travel makes me feel like I’m working harder than I should have to when I type. And the extra space between the keys looks and feels cheaper and older to me.

Angus MacGyger:

Following @drdrang here is a scatter chart of @marcoarment data inspired by @jsnell interview. I got the raw data with and plotted with matplotlib in Python.

Update (2019-11-20): Casey Johnston:

@gruber asked me if i thought macbook keyboards would have been fixed sooner if i’d written my keyboard story for a bigger, more significant outlet. i don’t think it could have ever happened that way because no publication would have risked stepping out on apple like that :)

big credit to @leahfinnegan and @outline for commissioning and running it when apple has so many people gaslighting themselves so badly every day

the bad keyboards had been in the world two and a half calendar years!! i wasn’t the first or last person to use them; worth asking why no one else called it out

See also: The Talk Show.

Marco Arment:

I can tell you exactly why “nobody” was talking about them, because we talked about them all the time.

The audience HATED it.

Many Apple-media fans hate when we harp on Apple about long-standing problems, even if they’re still major problems. They say we’re “too negative”.


Make sure the proper wattage adapter for your portable computer is used. Select the appropriate power adapter for your Apple portable computer. You can use a higher wattage power adapter, but you cannot use one with less wattage without potential operating issues.

Update (2019-11-25): Dieter Bohn:

The trackpad is still almost comically big, but Apple does better than anybody at palm rejection.


My favorite part of the 16-inch MacBook Pro isn’t the keyboard or the improved thermals. (More on that below.) To be blunt, those are both things Apple shouldn’t have messed up in the first place, so I don’t want to give it too much credit for just hitting par.

It’s the speakers. They’re the best I’ve ever heard on a laptop.


It’s the no-drama MacBook Pro. And thank god for that because for people who want a big-screen, big-power Mac laptop, it’s also the only option around.

Nilay Patel:

It’s a very good laptop with incredible speakers, but mostly it just feels like Apple reset things, instead of pushing anything too far forward.

Kyle Howells:

I tried the 16" MacBook Pro in an Apple Store and, after hearing everyone rave about the keyboard, I’m incredibly disappointed in it. The keys are still far too immobile and the gaps are tiny between the keys. Typing on it is so error prone and feels so bad compared to the 2015’s

Tyler Stalman:

Exporting 10 min YouTube video

Late 2019 16” MBP - 5m 4s
Early 2018 15” MBP - 12m 29s

Joanna Stern:

Sometimes you can’t just take Apple’s word for it and you have to find yourself an anecohic chamber to test the new MacBook Pro’s keyboard to make sure it’s really quieter.

See also: Exponent.

Update (2019-12-16): Dave Verwer:

It’s noticeably faster in day to day use and feels like a great upgrade in real-world capability. That said, the fans spin up a lot. Way more than they did on my 2015. They’re also distractingly loud.


The keyboard feel is fine, I guess. It’s nowhere near as nice as the 2015 MacBook Pro keyboard, or the external Magic Keyboard but my typing is quick and accurate on it. It’s fine.


The Touch Bar, at least set to the app-contextual “App Controls” commands, constantly needs these affirmations, landing you in the odd situation of diverting your attention from a ~1120 points high screen to one that is 30 points high, and from a tactile lattice of keys that we all know to operate from muscle memory built up over decades to a shallow strip with no feedback except visual. Since effective commanding is often about being able to do things blindfolded, this gets in the way.

The Touch Bar does open a few doors – it can display colors (and therefore also emoji), it can offer fine motor control without affecting the mouse cursor or requiring precision in two axes. If you can fit your workflow into scrubbing or sliding or panning, you can operate it without needing to look, allowing a new kind of gesture not offered by the trackpad with both precision and agility, and at least local efficiency gains.


It still carries all the previous problems of a budding universal connector, though; it connects directly to almost nothing, even for the many people who have made the deliberate transition.


In a sentence, it is both perfect and stupid, rolled into one. It is not the computer I wished for, but it has things in it that I wished for, and it is enough to get me through the next few years and feel like charting that course wasn’t a fool’s errand — money given to a company that’s still willing to listen to its customers, even if it could work on its humility and attitude.

John Banovich:

Comparing it to my old 2014 MacBook Pro, with only 16GB RAM, older video with only 2GB and a 1TB SSD, I expected this 16” to be much faster.

Taking a 6K full-frame 16-bit HFR clip captured in X-OCN on Sony’s new Venice, I compared performance time between the two working in both Adobe Premiere Pro and Black Magic DaVinci Resolve, using simple edits, color correction, renders and exports. Overall, the MacBook Pro 16” offered only an 8 – 12% performance and speed improvement.

But what really shocked me was the battery life. Full charged (100%) I quickly approached 5% in less than 3 hours.

Peter Steinberger:

Experience with the LG 5K Monitor + 16-inch MacBook

- Monitor no longer delivers enough power, battery is down to 25% after playing some StarCraft
- After sleep mode, screen no longer wakes up. Fix: unplug/replug usb-c cable

So glad I bought a screen that is co-built by Apple.


Update (2020-02-24): Mike:

Have 3 new 16” MacBook pros in the office, none of which are older than ~1.5 months. One of those is 2 weeks old and.... has a sticky key already.


I used to put a microSD card in a 1/2 height adaptor so it plugged into my MacBook Pro's sd card slot for backups but macOS is really fidgety about ejecting sd cards when it goes to sleep and doesn't like to remount them. What do you do to keep your sd card mounted? It's always been a struggle to the point that I stopped using it.

@Fred I don’t recall that ever being an issue for me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

@Michael Curse you and your magic sd cards! 🤠 Everyone talks about sd cards as a thing for photographers but I think it really overlooks how these cards have become storage expansions outside of the Apple ecosystem.

"Hopefully, he doesn’t mean that a working keyboard is a Pro feature."

Whether he means it or not, that is now the tacit marketing for this product.

That it ever got to this point is a disgrace that should have demanded the firing of an C-level executive.

One thing that I learned in the MBP 16 Hacker News thread, which I have never seen before in USB-C discussion, is that apparently all older regular (non-C) USB devices, like printers, external hard drives, audio interfaces, will directly work on the USB-C ports of the Macbook Pros if you simply buy a cable with the appropriate old port on one end, and USB-C port on the other. Despite reading a LOT about how USB-C is different, this important fact was never obvious to me. I always assumed that you'd need a dongle for any older non-USB-C devices to work on a USB-C port. So, that's nice. And of course it works the other way, I have a newer USB-C audio interface and it works fine plugged into my 2014 MBP with a USB-C to USB-A cable with the same functionality as if it was plugged into a newer USB-C MBP.

Anyway, I completely agree with your assessment of the MBP 16, Michael. It's ridiculous that so many people, who have the voice (attention of Apple) to be critical, are falling all over themselves simply because Apple fixed things that they shouldn't have broken to begin with (and which nearly every other laptop manufacturer has continued to do properly). The continued lack of an SD Card slot is unforgivable. It's so tiny and useful, why not just stick one in there? Even people that don't have a pro "need" for it, like transferring photos from a DSLR, can still find it immensely useful as a tiny removable drive.

I really just don't understand their insistence on giving up things that still work fine. This isn't the same as getting rid of the floppy disk or ADB. Everybody knew that the floppy sucked, and by 1998 1.44 MB was not enough storage for anything. And ADB was basically just the connector for keyboard and mouse. USB-A connectors are ubiquitous, they're reliable (I've never ever broken one), and the speed of USB 3.1 (or whatever the latest spec is for the USB-A connector) is more than enough for most peripherals. Why not do 3 USB-A ports and 3 USB-C ports on the MacBook PRO? Isn't that how it's supposed to be differentiated from the other MacBooks?

The arguments I've seen for "USB-A sucks" is basically "But USB-C doesn't care which way you plug in the port!" -- I mean really, I almost never plug in a USB-A port the wrong way. It's not that hard to give it a quick glance to look for either the USB logo or the presence of a seam on the metal connector.

@Ben Yeah, that doesn’t come up very often because typically you already have an A-to-B cable, so it’s easier to get a few dongles or a hub than all new cables.

The argument I’m hearing is that there’s simply no space for USB-A or SD Card, especially with the new cooling system and speakers. It fit fine on the 2015, which wasn’t much different in size. And PCs can fit it. I wouldn’t mind it being slightly larger if necessary.

I would actually love to have mini-DisplayPort back because so often the Thunderbolt/USB-C gets messed up and I have to plug/unplug/reboot multiple times to get my external display to work. Like everything USB, it just doesn’t seem very reliable.

FWIW, my last employer gave me a 13-inch and over a couple of years I got used to working with the smaller display, for coding it's just fine. I have the new Air and I'm really happy with the weight and that the front edge doesn't dig into my palms as with the Pro. Yes Xcode is a little slow, but I can live with that until ARM processors. Good riddance big laptops!

@Neil horses for course I guess. A few years ago I switched from a 15" MBP to the 12" MB (mostly because of travel), then tried the 13" MBP, but now I'm back to the luxury of a 15" MBP. I can't work on anything smaller.
FWIW I'm one of those weirdos who actually likes the butterfly keyboard, so I'll be sticking with my 2017 MBP for now.

Sören Nils Kuklau

And… <checks notes> still the same 720p FaceTime camera. What is this, 2005? Does no one at Apple ever work remotely?

if only Apple had another product line with stupid absurd camera technology that shoots fucking lasers into your face to identify it and take crazy good quality photos and video so they could put it into a laptop too

Yes, but that other product line is more than twice as thick (I can’t find actual numbers for this. But the iPhone 11 is 8.3mm thick, and the webcam portion of the rMBP display assembly is apparently 3mm; presumably, that on the Touch Bar generations is even slightly thinner).

Imagine the kind of camera bump you would need to put a better camera in a laptop lid.

Is the insinuation here that Apple is cheaping out on a camera module? I don’t really get it.

Anyway, I completely agree with your assessment of the MBP 16, Michael. It’s ridiculous that so many people, who have the voice (attention of Apple) to be critical, are falling all over themselves simply because Apple fixed things that they shouldn’t have broken to begin with (and which nearly every other laptop manufacturer has continued to do properly).

It’s a valid Finally(TM) moment, is all.

This machine, despite not receiving proper keynote coverage and all (perhaps because they’re too embarrassed from the keyboard), fixes and improves upon lots of things. More RAM, more SSD, a low-end GPU that matches the previous, $750 more expensive high-end BTO GPU, better audio stuff thrown in because sure why not. A renewed commitment (look at the iMac Pro and Mac Pro) to having actual “pro” Macs, to a point (yeah, it’s not a gamer/workstation high-end laptop, but it’s a start).

But all of that is secondary.

With the 2017, I didn’t really want to upgrade because I didn’t want two laptops in a row with 16 GB of RAM (which was the max at the time), and because the keyboard was getting a poor reputation. They fixed one of those with the 2018.

Now they’ve (presumably) fixed the other, and I can finally upgrade from a late 2013 model.

It doesn’t make Apple heroes. They screwed up, took years to fix it (perhaps in part due to the way their product cycle works, if you look at how long the Mac Pro took from pre-announcement to actually-hopefully-soon shipping or at what they said about the three-year Ax development cycle), and still are beating around the bush instead of apologizing (maybe in part due to being involved in ongoing lawsuits).

But they have returned to a position where it’s at least plausible to recommend that a professional buy an Apple laptop.

“Hopefully, he doesn’t mean that a working keyboard is a Pro feature.”

Whether he means it or not, that is now the tacit marketing for this product.

Seems unlikely to me that they’ll keep the butterfly keyboard around on the Air. Sure, it’s thinner, but it also complicates their engineering effort and supply chain (something Tim famously likes to optimize).

What I can imagine, just to destroy my own argument a little, is that the Air (where “Air” stands in for any non-Pro MacBook) retains the bigger arrow keys, and maybe that’s what he’s hinting towards. Different trade-offs for a different audience.

Yes Xcode is a little slow, but I can live with that until ARM processors. Good riddance big laptops!

It’s not even the performance (though that hurts, too). I just find IDEs extremely cramped on small screens. Even 1080p barely feels like enough these days.

@John I also really like the butterfly, the 3rd gen, I really didn't like the first gen, too noisy and clicky. I find the larger keycaps allow a broader position of the elbows than the old keyboards, most of the time I use the MS ergonomic sculpt.
I also used to think the 13 was too small, maybe it's because i have it on a stand most of the time, the screen is about 40cm away from my eyes. Whining about the butterfly keyboard and speculation about Jony Ive's involvement is tiring. It sounds like the new keyboard is more stable, proof is in the pudding!

@Sören Nils Kuklau I don't use them all that often but shortcuts like command-0 to toggle the Project Navigator, or command-shift-y toogle Debug Console, amongst others, can help with crampedness.

@Sören Not that they cheaped out, more that they just don’t seem to put any effort into the camera—opposite of iPhone where it changes every year. Surely the front-facing iPhone camera isn’t as thick as the whole phone, and it’s way better than what Macs have. And a MacBook Pro camera bump, if necessary, would be less bad than on iPhone because it could have a place to fold into below the trackpad.


I think most of the camera bump is for the optics, not the sensor. A Macbook camera has simpler optical requirements (subject sitting at about 2 feet) so the lens assembly should be quite compact.

Sören Nils Kuklau

Not that they cheaped out, more that they just don’t seem to put any effort into the camera—opposite of iPhone where it changes every year. Surely the front-facing iPhone camera isn’t as thick as the whole phone, and it’s way better than what Macs have.

I don’t know how thick the iPhone front-facing camera is. I tried to research this earlier, but also couldn’t find reliable numbers on how thick the MBP lid is, or on what sizes the respective display/camera assemblies/daughterboards are. Just, generally speaking, that there are simply optical constraints. (I’m actually surprised iFixit doesn’t seem to offer this info.)

Which does explain why the iMac Pro, which naturally has more thickness to play with, does have a better camera. Yeah, it’s still a long shot from what the iPhone offers, but it’s a start. (The regular iMac, alas, still doesn’t appear to have it. Maybe with the next update?)

And a MacBook Pro camera bump, if necessary, would be less bad than on iPhone because it could have a place to fold into below the trackpad.

Sure, but that sounds like a very un-Apple solution.

It’s not like other vendors don’t have this problem. Dell briefly approached it with a “nose cam” — a camera that would pop out from the keyboard, which offers more depth, but leads to weird angles. They reverted to the more common approach of having the camera in the bezel, but!

We have not extensively tested the webcam yet, but a few test shots show that the angle is much more natural, and the image is clear and noise-free. Both video and photo top out at 720p resolution

I think most of the camera bump is for the optics, not the sensor. A Macbook camera has simpler optical requirements (subject sitting at about 2 feet) so the lens assembly should be quite compact.

Well, I’m no expert on this.

I’m just saying that the (presumed) significant difference in depth of the MBP vs. iPhone front-facing cameras should be considered when arguing that the iPhone has a better camera.

It is possible that Michael is right, though: that what it would take is a Retina Display moment; for Apple to tell suppliers “we’ve been stuck at a certain quality level for too long, and we’re willing to spend extra to spearhead a move forward”. And that Apple doesn’t care enough in this regard.

Relying on SD cards for backups is a big mistake. They are not reliable media. That's why pro cameras are going to transition to CFExpress. Not only is it blazing fast (1,600 MBps), they are built to a much tougher standard. Nikon's so confindent in them their new cameras only have one slot. Nikon UK had one XQD card fail in all of 2017, SD cards fail all the time.

That being said, many of the statements here are simply assertions posing as facts. Mind you there's a lot of good stuff. But some people's hyperbole is getting in the way of careful analysis.

@Eric Of course, I don’t rely on SD cards for my main backups. But they are a good supplement to cloud backup on the go, where it’s just not practical to use an external USB-C drive. I certainly wouldn’t complain about built-in secondary hard drive or something like CFExpress.

This MBP release would be far more interesting to me if macOS still felt like a sustainable platform for app development and general stability, but alas. It's nice that they're finally fixing hardware problems that should have never happened in the first place, but that doesn't change the software side of things, which is what's pushing me away.

"But a few years back, we decided that while we were advancing the butterfly keyboard, we would also -- specifically for our pro customer -- go back and really talk to many pro customers about what they most want in a keyboard and did a bunch of research."

This sort of dishonest spin is one of the worst things about Apple these days.

> I use F-keys all the time and also find that physical keys work better for adjusting the brightness and volume.


Drives me crazy to use it. But its a good excuse for Keyboard Maestro.

> I use F-keys all the time and also find that physical keys work better for adjusting the brightness and volume.

I use a Apple extended Keyboard all the time with my MacBook Pro late 2016. I have those keyboards at my Office and 3 external sites. So I can´t really use the touch-bar and I don´t miss it. BUT adjusting the brightness and volume is very clever implemented and better usable as with F-keys. You have to now how to use it: Just touch, hold and slide! Done. Great!

Why all the external keyboards? I don´t like the sharp case edge of the MacBook Pro and white Keys are much better to see as black ones. I use Keyboard Maestro a lot, so the extra F-keys and Number-pad-keys are very useful for me. I had al lot of Macs since 1987 and I liked the round edges of my G3 PISMO and the silver keyboard of the first Intel MacBook Pro.

Just a friendly reminder that for the 64GB RAM upgrade, Apple are charging you $800 for 48GB of RAM that costs $180 in the consumer market (quality Crucial SO-DIMMs from Newegg). No doubt Apple get better pricing for buying memory in bulk, so they're charging you at least a 450% markup on the RAM upgrade.

@Jon H
I agree, I am very, very, very, very glad Apple fixed (fingers crossed) the keyboard problem, but let's be honest, the revamp came about because high profile customers started revolting. Apple is in the habit of telling us, the users what we want, the dialogue reverses.

Apple chose flare over function years ago with the MacBook lineup. Its really been embarrassing to see a "pro" line become so handicapped for pro users. I do see hints at reversal with the new Mac Pro and 16 Inch MacBook Pro, but seriously these should not be the fixes for what should have never happened to begin with. Pro people do not need boutique like products with bare minimum ports and heat throttling issues. Would Ford build a Mustang that produces 600HP only to overheat in a quarter mile run? Who on Earth at Apple tests this stuff under extreme loads? The butterfly keyboard design was again a obvious mistake that traded a perfectly great keyboard that many outside of the MacBook world chose as the bar to beat. To a almost unbearable won that only a person typing one sentence replies in emails would tolerate, a complete embarrassment to a MacBook or MacBook Air but unacceptable in a MacBook Pro. Tim Cook clearly is a hands off person in approving these new products and designs. He should be replaced because everything that has been released under his watch has had serious flaws.

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