Updated Jan 15th: article originally posted Jan 14th:
It’s not a great time to be buying a MacBook Pro. The normally reliable and relatable Apple has forced the professional macOS laptops into a state of flux, disrupting its own market. What has happened to Tim Cook’s flagship line-up?
Update: Sunday January 14th. Mark Gurman highlights one of the biggest issues with Apple’s upcoming MacBook Pro hardware. The addition of a touchscreen in upcoming models will mean Apple upturning more than a decade of trying to explain why the Mac platform has ignored the ubiquity and utility of touchscreens:
“…it made fun of companies like Microsoft Corp. for blending laptops and tablets, introduced duds like the Touch Bar, insisted that macOS wouldn’t offer a good touch experience and described the approach as “ergonomically terrible.”:”
As Apple brings apps from its various operating systems closer together – notably iPadOS apps to macOS – that stubborn approach has to change, not least because using touch-based apps on any of the current macOS machines is uncomfortable at best and painful in many more cases .
But this isn’t the only issue that is hampering the delayed Macs.
Where are the next-generation MacBook Pro laptops? The community was eagerly expecting the M2 Pro- and M2 Max-powered laptops to arrive during the last quarter of 2022. Apple failed to launch any new Mac in the last quarter of the yearthe first time it has not reached this milestone in over two decades.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro, as discussed previously, is little more than a MacBook Air with an entry-level processor supported by an active cooling fan to inch out a bit more performance. For many, myself included, this is not what you would expect from a professional-level MacBook Pro.
It’s unlikely there will be a significant increase in performance? The move away from Intel to Apple Silicon brought an immediate jump in power and potential, but the jump from Apple Silicon’s M1 to M2 chipsets has proved less spectacular on the MacBook Air refresh. The performance gains for the M2 Pro over the M1 Pro are reported as being “marginal”. There are suggestions that Apple will remain on the 5nm process for its silicon rather than moving to 3nm and capturing all the gains that the latter would offer.
Finally, Apple is looking to equip future MacBooks with a touchscreen, some fourteen years after Microsoft first supported this in mainstream Windows devices. This would be a sea-change in Apple’s approach to portable computing, but it is one that feels inevitable as Tim Cook and his team try to pull the Mac and iPad platforms closer together both in software and hardware. Those MacBooks would become the go-to laptops in the range, and while not fully Osbourne’ing the rest of the range, would reduce the impact of the vanilla-screened laptops.
Those who were expecting the new MacBook Pro laptops to arrive on a schedule that Apple allows the community to accept have been disappointed. Those looking to upgrade – be it to new hardware or to finally join the Apple Silicon platform will have to wait for the professionally focused laptops. And anyone who wants the utility and ease of use provided by a touchscreen will be wary of investing in any new Apple laptop before the long-established technology finally appears on the platform.
Apple’s launch of the M2 family during 2022’s Worldwide Developer Conference saw Tim Cook and his team build on the successful Apple Silicon launch. Since then, there have been delays, poor communication, and leaked features which could damage short-term sales.
The MacBook Pro platform is neither stable nor certain going into 2023.