The MacBook Pro range has become by far the most recognizable laptop in the world. And it is perhaps telling that recent Microsoft adverts have even mentioned the Mac by name; almost admitting that they are directly responding to the definitive laptop computer. But the MacBook Pro has not been really seriously updated for quite some time, so the news that Apple would release a new laptop in 2016 will certainly be well received by fans of the series.

Macbook Pro
Image source: Apple

MacBook Pro 2015 vs. MacBook Pro 2016 

Nonetheless, Apple does put out new MacBooks every year, so the first thing that the consumer electronics giant must do is convince customers that the New MacBook Pro is a significant improvement on the 2015 model.

 Design

In terms of design, the 2016 MacBook Pro is thinner and lighter in comparison to its predecessor. By way of comparison, the MacBook Pro (2016) 13-inch model weighs 3.02 lbs (1.37 kg) and measures 0.59 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches (1.49 x 30.41 x 21.24 cm), while the MacBook Pro (2015) 13-inch model weighs 3.48 lbs (1.58 kg) and measures 0.71 x 12.35 x 8.62 inches (1.8 x 31.4 x 21.9 cm).

And the MacBook Pro (2016) 15-inch model weighs 4.02 lbs (1.83 kg) and measures 0.61 x 13.75 x 9.48 inches (1.55 x 34.93 x 24.07 cm), while the MacBook Pro (2015) 15-inch model weighs 4.49 lbs (2.04 kg) and measures 0.71 x 14.13 x 9.73 inches (1.8 x 35.89 x 24.71 cm).

Both 2015 and 2016 versions are rather similar in terms of physical design, featuring an aluminum enclosure, LED-backlit display, and two identically sized models. Users can also choose from silver or space grey colour options. The big departure with the new MacBook Pro is that a touch bar with an integrated Touch ID sensor has been included. This replaces the function keys at the top of the keyboard, which are replaced with a set of virtual keys. The Touch ID sensor is compatible with Apple Pay and enables logging in without passwords.

Brightness

However, Apple would not wish for the display section of this comparison to be completed without reference to the fact that the screen is 67 percent brighter in the new MacBook Pro range. Apple also states that there is 25 percent better color representation in the 2016 MacBook Pro release. There are also improved graphic capabilities included in the new MacBook Pro range, as Apple intends to appeal more to gamers. This is perhaps one area in which the Mac still needs to close the gap on PC desktops.

Display

There has been no significant alteration to the display of the MacBook Pro, with identical screen sizes and resolutions included in both models as in last year’s releases. Thus, the MacBook Pro range offers a choice between a 13.3-inch LED-backlit Retina display with 2,560 x 1,600-pixel resolution at 227 ppi, or a 15.4-inch model with 2,880 x 1,800-pixel resolution at 220 ppi. It would have been nice to have seen a resolution increase in the MacBook Pro in 2016, but the fact remains that the screen included with this laptop is considered an outstanding display.

Processor

The processors included in the two 2016 variants of the MacBook Pro have slightly improved power compared to last year’s releases. The MacBook Pro (2016) 13-inch base model with Touch Bar offers a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz), which outperforms the 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz) from 2015.

Meanwhile, the 15-inch base model is powered by a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz), which is an improvement on the specs from the 2015 edition, which offered a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz).

Cache

The smaller version of the MacBook Pro has received a 1GB cache boost in the newest iteration. This means that new MacBook Pro owners should notice an increased performance from the notebook-sized variant of the Apple laptop, with 4MB of cache space included. However, the larger 15-inch laptop sees cache frozen at 6MB.

Storage

The smaller MacBook Pro unit sees the amount of storage offered to consumers increased. The smaller of the two laptops features a 256GB Solid State Drive, which is double the memory that was included in the 2015 model. This is actually the same capacity as the larger MacBook Pro release, meaning that the SSD capacity in the premium laptop remains the same as last year.

Battery

Both new MacBook Pro units purport to offer up to 10 hours of web play, despite having completely different battery sizes (this is obviously explained by the larger screen size of the 15-inch model). This does not seem to be a significant improvement over the capabilities of the 2015 MacBook Pro.

USB

Another major update with the 2016 MacBook Pro is the inclusion of four USB-C ports. iPhone fans may hope that this is a precursor to this technology being included in Apple’s iconic smartphone range. The 2015 laptop release from the world’s leading consumer electronics company featured standard USB, so this is certainly an update to the MacBook Pro series.

All four sockets can be used to charge the laptop or attach USB-C, Thunderbolt, HDMI and USB connectors. Considering the flexibility offered by USB-C, the inclusion of this new technology is certainly a welcome innovation. It is also notable that the ports included in the MacBook Pro range are smaller and more rounded than the traditional sockets included.

Price

One would expect the new MacBook Pro to retail at a higher price point than the one-year old version, and this is indeed the case. The new 13-inch model with the new touch bar innovation starts at $1,799, while the larger laptop-sized model debuts at a $2,399 price point. This means that the premium version of the MacBook Pro retails at $400 more than last year’s version, while the more affordable model is $500 more expensive than its predecessor.