December 06, 2016

The fourth generation of MacBook Pro has been revealed and it is the quintessential product by Apple. Touted as the lightest and the thinnest MacBook Pro till date, the new flagship product is 15 inches broad and, needless to say, it is elegant in design.

The biggest change one can instantly tell from its previous generations is the introduction of the interactive Touch Bar and the Touch ID sensor incorporated into the Power button. This has finally replaced the function keys. Apple had been facing flak for failing to successfully implement touch screen displays in its laptop or desktop computers. So the incorporation of the latest Touch Bar in the new 15 inch and 13 inch MacBook Pro models is the answer to it, though the Touch Bar will not be available in the basic 13 inch MacBook Pro.

mbp13touch-gray-select-cto-201610The All New MacBook Pro:

The 15 inch MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) has been launched with two standard specifications -

  • a 2.6 GHz sixth generation core processor (i7) unit with Radeon Pro 450 GPU with a 256 GB PCIe SSD
  • a 2.7 GHz core processor (i7 again) unit with Radeon 455 GPU with a 512 GB PCIe SSD

These specs can be extended with a customized 2.9 Gigahertz i7 core processing unit with Radeon Pro 460, 4 GB memory and a 2 TB PCIe SSD. Every model has four USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and16 GB of RAM. The price begins from $2399.

The 13 inch model of MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) is also being offered in two variants -

  • a 2.9 GHz core processor (i5) unit, Intel Iris 550 GPU with a 256GB PCIe SSD
  • a 2.9 GHz core processor (i5) unit SSD with a 512 GB PCIe SSD and the equivalent Intel Iris 550 GPU

Both these models have 8 GB of RAM. The highest version consists of a 3.3 Gigahertz i7 CPU, a 1 TB PCIe SSD and 16 GB of RAM, but there is no option for a separate GPU. All the models have four USB-C/Thunderbolt ports. The price begins from $1799.
Interestingly, Apple has also unveiled a new 13 inch MacBook Pro minus the Touch Bar. It comes with a 2 Gigahertz i5 core processing unit, Intel Iris 540 GPU, only two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and 256 GB PCIe SSD.

The new Apple MacBook Pro devices are 67% brighter, have 67% higher contrast ratio (1750:1) and will display 25% more color than the former generation of Apple laptops. The Radeon Pro graphics card inside it will substantially improve gaming capabilities. Also, the built-in speakers will emit twice the dynamic range of audio in contrast to the previous generation.

The Changes in a Nutshell

The speakers of the fourth generation MacBook Pro are located on both sides of the keyboard on the 13 inch model. The design is close to the earlier two generations with an all-metal unibody with separated black keys. The changes can be seen with a thinner chassis, smaller screen bezel, bigger track pad, shallow butterfly keyboard with lesser key separation and of course, the OLED Touch Bar. It is available in two finishes - the existing silver color and now a darker space gray color.

The model name ‘MacBook Pro’ has returned to the bottom of its screen bezel in the traditional San Francisco font. This was absent from the third generation of MacBook Pro. Similar to the Retina MacBook, the latest models have replaced the backlit Apple logo on the back of the screen with a new opaque but glossy version.

  • Radeon Pro GPU in the 15 inch models
  • Faster sixth generation Skylake processors
  • Quicker PCIe SSDs in up to 2 TB of capacity
  • Improved display, with greater brightness & contrast, and a wider color gamut
  • Replacement of all old ports, barring the headphone jack
  • Introduction of four USB-C sockets integrating Thunderbolt 3
  • Second generation butterfly keyboard
  • Touch Bar replaced for hardware function keys
  • Retina OLED display
  • Touch ID power button for Apple Pay and log in
  • Larger Force Touch track pad
  • Slimmer and smaller form factor
  • New color launched. Space Gray option available now, other than the regular silver

Replacing the conventional row of the Function keys on its keyboard, the MacBook Pro has a Touch Bar that is a glass panel sensitive to touch. It is a multi-touch enabled OLED strip built on to the top of the keyboard. It has a resolution of 2,170 x 60 pixels providing controls that are context-sensitive for individual apps and also individual tools under apps like Adobe Photoshop.

As default, the Touch Bar shows controls for standard settings - volume, brightness and the latest version of Mac’s Siri. The Escape key is present too. And when you switch into an application that supports the Touch Bar functionality you can see a whole new set of controls available for the app in concern.

For instance, the Mail app will have formatting options and predictive text, while the Messages app will display a range of emojis! Agreed that this may not appeal to the professional users who mean serious business, but the availability of an API for Touch Bar allowing third-party developers to deploy it in their own apps is refreshing. Third party apps such as 1Password, Pixelmator, PCCalc and Apple’s Photos app show off the Touch Bar's full potential and capabilities.

Adobe shows that the Touch Bar in Photoshop allows us to quickly go back and forth during complex editing with only a flick of a finger. Improvements like these are making the designers line up to upgrade. Next in line for a Touch Bar update will be Microsoft Office.

The Touch Bar is also offering a Touch ID sensor. This will scan your fingerprints. The sensor is a laser-cut sapphire crystal and is more stylish than Apple’s Windows-based competitors.

Pros and Cons

Let us take a look at how the new MacBook Pro fares in comparison to its predecessors.


  • Innovative new Touch Bar
  • High quality Retina display
  • Very light and thin for a 15 inch device


  • Too expensive
  • No user upgrades or further repairs
  • USB-C ports will require expensive adapters

This model was recently launched on 27th October 2016 and is likely to be shipped till late December. Those who own the older models of MacBook Pro should undoubtedly wait to find out more before they replace their older versions. Though this update has been long overdue, it has been worth the wait. With noticeably heavy demand in the form of pre-orders for this next generation laptop, would you queue up to buy the latest MacBook Pro? Will the new release manage to create as much stir and excitement as Apple is usually known to build? Let us wait and watch.

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