MacBook Pro 13-Inch Review Roundup: What You Need to Know
Think of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) as both an upgrade to the old MacBook Pro and a replacement for the underpowered MacBook Air. Starting at $1,499, this 3-pound laptop features more power, thanks to a 2-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and Iris graphics, a brighter display, bigger touchpad and louder speakers. Add in two Thunderbolt 3 ports and it appears at first blush to be a winner.
But is it a winner? Many reviewers have complaints, especially regarding what Apple omitted. Here’s what the reviewers have to say about Apple’s latest – but not quite greatest – MacBook Pro.
The new MacBook Pro is an excellent laptop, and I strongly recommend it. But I also wish Apple included the latest Intel processors for the price.
Score: 4 stars out of 5
Laptop’s own editor in chief Mark Spoonauer took the MacBook Pro for a spin and found quite a bit of value in its compact design and its “very bright and colorful display.” The MacBook Pro also earned high marks for its “excellent battery life” (it lasted well over 12 hours on our web surfing test) and solid sound.
However, there were some shortcomings, including its somewhat sluggish performance compared to notebooks featuring 7th-generation Intel Core processors and the lack of both an SD card slot and full-size USB port.
Overall, though, the MacBook Pro was generally well-received, earning a solid 4 out of 5 score and earning it praise as “an excellent ultraportable.” In fact, the MacBook Pro is better than its predecessor “in nearly every way.”
Apple has built a beautiful computer with all the upgrades I wanted, but it’s taken away things that I actually need, and now I’m looking elsewhere.
Score: 8.6 out of 10
The Verge’s Vlad Savov says the 13-inch MacBook Pro has many highlights, including a “brilliant display” and an outstanding trackpad. The site also found Apple’s MacBook Pro to come with the proper balance of power, battery life, and portability.
However, Apple’s decision to remove the SD card slot and MagSafe adapter in favor of ThunderBolt 3 wasn’t a popular one. The Verge also questioned Apple’s $1,499 starting price, saying that the computer’s cost coupled with the price on dongles to support your existing accessories could make the machine an expensive proposition.
If you have a lot of legacy peripherals, we can't help but think that you're probably better off with a system with more versatile connectivity, like the Dell XPS 13 Touch.
In what appears to be a common complaint, PCMag’s Joel Santo Domingo writes that he was disappointed by Apple’s decision to only offer two Thunderbolt 3 ports in the machine. The site says the omission of other ports means you’ll need to either find new accessories for your new computer or buy up “a handful of adapters” that will cost you even more.
Despite those shortcomings, there were also some high notes in PCMag’s review. The site was fond of the MacBook Pro’s nearly 12 hours of battery life (based on its tests) and said that its chassis is “sturdy.” And although PCMag was upset the MacBook Pro didn’t ship with more ports, it was pleased to find the two Thunderbolt 3 ports in the machine. The MacBook Pro’s big touchpad also earned high marks.
Overall, the entry-level 13-inch MacBook is a satisfying and still sexy system with myriad improvements, but no signature innovation.
Score: None but given Mashable Choice Award
Although we got 12 hours out of its MacBook Pro review unit’s battery life, Mashable saw 10 hours of mixed use. Still, Lance Ulanoff says that the MacBook Pro offers “excellent battery life.” In addition, Mashable was pleased to find a “beautiful” display in the MacBook Pro, and thought the computer’s keyboard was “great.” Its portability was also a highlight.
However, the MacBook was criticized in the Mashable review for not having a single feature that delivered a quintessentially Apple innovation. And once again, Mashable, like many others, had a hard time coming to grips with Apple’s decision to eliminate legacy ports in favor of the newer Thunderbolt 3. Apple’s entry price on the MacBook Pro also wasn’t very well-received in the review.
Score: None given
The $1,499 version of the laptop isn’t the one I’d recommend first...those extra two extra ports and the extra speed bump (on the $1,799 model) will go a long way."
Arstechnica’s Andrew Cunningham left nothing to the imagination on how it feels about the MacBook Pro’s $1,499 price tag. The site said it was the single “ugly” part of owning the MacBook Pro and said that in context to past models, it’s far too expensive.
Beyond that, Ars took issue with Apple’s limitation on the ability for owners to upgrade the device on their own, and noted that the computer’s built-in Wi-Fi actually offers slower theoretical speeds than last year’s model. Ars also had some trouble coming to grips with a MacBook Pro that doesn’t offer Touch Bar or Touch ID.
On the positive side, Ars was happy to see the Thunderbolt 3 support, calling it a “tremendously versatile port.” The MacBook Pro was also given props for its great design and even though it’s a 13-inch notebook, the device delivered outstanding sound for such a small package. And for those planning to use the MacBook Pro with a 4K or 5K display, Ars says, the MacBook Pro should be able to handle those monitors with ease.