Macbook Pro 2019 16 – If Apple does nothing else, the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro is better than its predecessor, and any other MacBook you can buy right now. In the past year, the tide has finally turned against Apple’s butterfly keyboard design, thanks in large part to Casey Johnston and Joanna Stern’s continued reporting that Apple has to.
But Apple’s backtracking on the keyboard isn’t the only tweak it’s made in response to complaints about its MacBook line. Apple has also changed the way laptops are cooled to allow processors to run faster and more predictably. It also brings back the physical Esc key and the arrow key layout preferred by most pro users.
Macbook Pro 2019 16
There are several other notable updates over the 15-inch model – including, yes, the laptop’s eponymous 16-inch screen itself. But the keyboard and cooling are significant updates, showing Apple’s willingness to look back to move forward.
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I was actually nervous and said the keyboard is fine now. I’ve reviewed most of the butterfly keyboard MacBooks, and in each iteration, I don’t like the feel of the keys. It has a gliding feel that is – to me – almost worth the gurgle. But the reviews were written after a week or two of use, which is not enough to run into reliability issues.
I’ve been using the 16″ MacBook Pro for the same amount of time, but I assume it’s fixed anyway because the new switch mechanism under the keys is a more traditional scissor switch – a known quantity. Apple says it’s based on the Magic Keyboard that ships with the iMac, and of course, maybe it is.
As a keyboard, it’s one of my favorites right now. (For the record, topping the list is the silent keyboard on the Pixelbook Go.) Apple’s new keyboard has a full millimeter of travel (0.5mm more than the Butterfly keyboard and 0.5mm less than the 2015 MacBook Pro). Although the keys are not particularly springy, they produce a satisfying and relatively quiet thump.
Apple says it redesigned how the key caps attach to the shear switches to improve key stability. The backlight doesn’t bleed through the edges of the keys, either. Finally, the keycaps are slightly smaller than those in the butterfly design, which puts them a little further apart, and – crucially – the touch bar. The “inverted T” layout on the arrow keys is also easier to use than the old layout.
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The physical Esc key shortens the touch bar a bit, but I can’t find any issues with the shortened length. That’s probably because, like most people, the Touch Bar is something I live with rather than something I love. Apple believes in it, and there is still potential there. But overall, it’s not as useful to me as a row of function keys. I use a utility called Pock to put my Mac’s dock there instead of the default, but even that doesn’t make the Touch Bar my must-have.
Inside Apple, I’m sure there are still engineers who think the butterfly keyboard is fixable. Maybe, but hardware design needs to be as much about culture as it is about engineering. Even if Apple could make a perfectly reliable butterfly keyboard with decent travel and quiet clicks, no one would believe it. Apple really had no choice, and I’m glad it finally embraced the inevitable.
The only question now is when Apple’s other laptops will adopt the new (old) keyboard design. Of course, Apple didn’t even indicate it. But there are some clues: the company has spent the last year doing the obvious things that everyone has been asking for: improved iPadOS USB access, thicker phones with bigger batteries and a modular Mac Pro again. Hopefully 2020 will be more of the same.
We can get away with a lot of the standard “laptop stuff” because Apple has done a good job with the basics. The trackpad is still ridiculously large, but Apple does a better job of preventing palm rejection than anyone. There are four more Thunderbolt 3 ports and a fingerprint sensor for logins. But unfortunately, there is no SD card slot.
Macbook Pro 2021 (16 Inch) Review
The screen – the laptop’s namesake screen – is typical Apple, which is to say it’s great. It’s not actually a full inch larger than the 15-inch version (which actually has a 15.4-inch display), and it doesn’t feel quite as roomy. It’s a large, color-accurate retina screen. I think that in the next iteration of the plan – probably a few years away – Apple should aim even higher. But OLED and HDR screens on laptops are still relatively rare, and I think Apple is right to stick to the fundamentals.
The 16-inch model is slightly larger than the 15-inch model in all three dimensions, but not so much that you really notice it if you compare them side by side. If you have a bag that fits a 15″ Watchhook Pro, I’d be very surprised if it didn’t fit a 16″ laptop.
Aside from the larger screen, one of the reasons it’s a bit bigger is that it has a full 100Wh battery, which is the FAA limit for laptops allowed on planes. It also comes with a 96V charger to match. Apple claims up to 11 hours of battery life, including web browsing and various other non-intensive tasks. I didn’t quite hit the target – I averaged around eight hours – but overall, I think it’s a bit better than the last model.
If there’s one area Apple could do better with hardware, it’s the webcam. This is still a small problem at 720p. Another area where Apple needs to do better is macOS Catalina. Even now, nearly two months after launch, it’s still a bit more problematic than it should be.
Apple Macbook Pro (16 Inch) Review: More Than Just A New Keyboard
Every smart device now requires you to agree to a set of terms and conditions—a contract that no one actually reads—before you can use it. It is impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to tap “Agree” to use a device when we reviewed it, because the agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t be negotiated.
These agreements are non-negotiable, and if you do not agree to them, you may not use the laptop. There are also a number of optional agreements, including:
My favorite part of the 16-inch MacBook Pro isn’t the keyboard or the improved cooling. (More on that below.) To be frank, Apple shouldn’t have screwed up these two things in the first place, so I don’t want to give it too much credit for meeting the standard.
Apple’s technical explanation for the speaker’s quality is that it has three speakers on each side, two of which are woofers, designed to cancel each other’s vibrations. This gives the MacBook Pro a half octave of bass. It also means that the speakers can get louder without sounding harsh.
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Speaker details like these usually end up being just marketing gimmicks, but not here. The laptop is very loud and has excellent stereo separation. It still won’t fill a room like a Bluetooth speaker, but it will impress anyone sitting in front of it.
Apple has also improved the microphones – now a three-mic “studio” array. It certainly sounds better than most microphones – including Microsoft’s “studio” microphone on the Surface Laptop 3. It has less hiss and echo to my ears. However, despite Apple’s claims, it still can’t stand up to a dedicated USB microphone like the Blue Yeti.
After the keyboard, another consensus on the 15-inch MacBook Pro is that it suffers from thermal limitations. Due to various design reasons, the processor cannot run as fast as otherwise. Last summer, another initial concern was that processor performance was much worse than it should have been, leading Apple to do a quick software update that provided what it called a “missing digital key” in the firmware.
I think those days are over. In benchmarks and lots of real-world testing, the 16-inch MacBook Pro can sustain higher speeds than before, and — more importantly, I think — it has always done so.
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All this happened thanks to some design changes that Apple made: it added a bigger heatsink, changed the fan design to move more air, made the whole thing a little thicker, and even rearranged the logic board to optimize heat dissipation. All of these changes allow it to pump an additional 12 W of power through the processor under load, Apple claims.
I’ll let someone else handle the deep benchmarks, but I will note that in my testing, the MacBook Pro slightly outperformed last year’s model on the raw processor test. Movie station 20
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