Big, powerful, reliable: the new laptop from Cupertino is designed for professionals, but perfect for anyone who makes intensive use of the computer. Too bad only for the price.
This is an anomalous test. We know of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro from Apple that it is a laptop intended for those who work seriously with video, photos, audio, programming: the classic idea of the professional who uses the Mac, if you want. Let’s explore all this elsewhere, but here we analyze instead the use of the MacBook Pro in another profession, that of the journalist. Which means keeping it always on and always connected 24 hours a day, every day. Use it at home, mostly, but also when traveling, on the train or plane. To surf the internet, with dozens of tabs open at the same time, on at least two different browsers, namely Safari and Chrome, but sometimes Firefox as well. To use it for some videos, more to see than to edit, and some photos, more to check than to retouch. And above all use it to write dozens of articles, like this review.
For those who normally use the 13-inch MacBook Pro there is an undoubted feeling of familiarity, given the very similar lines and changed very little over the years. Yet the MacBook Pro 16 is big, undeniably, obviously, even peacefully. With an air of reassuring reliability that immediately shows itself, in the solidity of the chassis, in the weight distribution, relevant but then not so much (2 Kg, against 1.83 Kg of the 15-inch one). And in the usual flawless finish, in aluminum or space gray.
There is some difference with the smaller model (and with the 15-inch version), apart from the screen: the TouchBar is now smaller. On the far right as always is the power button with the fingerprint reader, but on the left, this time, there is a physical ESC button, and no longer just a designated area of the TouchBar.
The Touch Bar, which sits above the keyboard and offers access to brightness and volume controls, is still a solution in search of a problem. Being an OLED strip, it can indicate context-specific tools in various applications. For example, in Safari, you can use it to search for a website, in Spotify it allows you to go back and forth in the song and between the real songs, etc. Yet, if it were not there, few would regret it.
The keyboard of the new MacBook Pro 16 ”
The most important novelty, however, is the keyboard, which abandons the butterfly mechanism used since 2015 on the MacBook and returns to scissor one. A technicality, to tell it in this way, in fact a radical improvement, even if it then translates into frets only slightly more protruding than the previous model. The stroke goes from 0.7 mm to 1 mm, however the feeling is completely different, and for those who write all day alone it would be a more than valid reason to prefer the new MacBook Pro 16 to other Apple laptops. Typing errors also decrease, and above all the noise produced by typing decreases, which in press conferences and presentations was sometimes so evident as to become embarrassing. What’s more: we happened to be called back because the noise disturbed a colleague’s audio recording.
But writing is also more pleasant, because the keys are softer, or at least they seem (it could be thanks to the rubber hemisphere that supports them). As always, the spacing is excellent, the backlight is very good, which allows you to use the MacBook Pro even in the dark or in poor ambient light conditions.
Apple spent years in “extensive research and user studies” to come up with the perfect keyboard design, until it became clear that the ideal model was at home: the Magic Keyboard born for the iMac. And no, this isn’t the biggest keyboard in history, but it’s definitely good for a laptop, thanks in part to the MacBook Pro’s chassis, which is super rigid and stable. The directional arrows also now have the classic “inverted T” layout. The Touchpad remained the same, huge and precise.
For the first time in a MacBook Pro, the screen is 16 inches. Excellent for both color and brightness, however, it is not the best for resolution: 3072 x 1920 pixels. Curious, since it is a device also intended for image professionals and capable, in the most powerful versions, of processing up to 11 video streams in 4K. In any case, for those who have been using a 13-inch MacBook Pro for years, the leap forward is huge: more space for documents and tabs in the browser, a desk ready to be filled with files and folders, spectacular videos on YouTube and Netflix. And all in a laptop that’s barely bigger than the 15-inch model: the trick is in the edges of the screen, which are thinner and give the MacBook Pro 16 a slightly more modern design too. And if 16 inches still weren’t enough,
An audio never heard before
The audio of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the best ever on a laptop. Rich and dynamic, with deep bass and some devilry that increases the spatiality of the sound. The volume may be enough for a small room, doing without external bluetooth speakers and headphones, given the absence of distortion even at maximum power: thanks to the six speakers and force-canceling woofers that minimize vibrations
Podcasters and musicians will also appreciate the three microphones (“studio quality” as Apple calls them) of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. They produce clear, interference-free sound, perfect for video conferencing or for recording conversations and interviews.
The comparison: on the left the new 16 “MacBook Pro, on the right the 13” model
The ports, as on the other MacBook Pro, are four, and multifunction: Usb-C but also Thunderbolt 3 up to 40 Gbps, and can also be used to recharge the computer. Real professionals will necessarily need adapters and extension cables, and it’s a shame because this time the excuse of the lack of space is not worth to justify, for example, the absence of the SD card slot. But sooner or later an adapter will still be needed: those who work as journalists today receive texts and images of press releases mostly as links to download or folders on the cloud, it is true, and yet at fairs and meetings there are always those who resort to USB sticks (and none who use USB-C). On the other hand, the headphone and microphone jack remained.
Power that lasts
Battery life is good and goes up to a full day, especially if – as in our case – the work consists largely of chatting, surfing the net, streaming music, a few videos and a lot of writing. The charger is powerful, bulky, and not very fast; for a curious irony, thanks to the standard USB C cable, it is perfect for Android smartphones with fast charging, as well as for the iPad, but you have to carry another cable for the iPhone. In our test, the two cooling fans never started working.
The MacBook Pro is very powerful, thanks to the latest generation Intel chip and the very fast solid state hard drive , which is practically unmatched on the market. We found the graphics section excellent, but unsuitable for gaming. The FaceTime camera also falls short of the rest of the device.
The price is high, predictably: it goes from 2799 euros for the basic version, the one we tested (Intel Core i7 6-core 2.6GHz processor, 16GB of Ram, AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card and 512GB SSD) up at 7,239 euros (with the very powerful 2.4 GHz Intel i9 8-core chip, 64 GB of Ram, AMD Radeon pro 5500 graphics card and an incredible 8 TB SSD hard disk).
Solid, powerful, simple to use, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro just works, like the best Apple products in history. It goes in the same direction as the latest iPhone: it is no thinner than the model it replaces, it does not introduce any real innovations in terms of design, and if anything it takes a step back to offer a better user experience. In short, it confirms the abandonment of minimalism at all costs that has marked many Apple devices in recent years. Not enthusiastic, perhaps, but never disappoints, and for this it certainly deserves the nickname “Pro”. In its field it is an absolute reference, and if Apple will bring these improvements even on the smaller model, perhaps by increasing the display size to 14, it will have another record-breaking computer in its hands.