Apple has finally launched its much rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro, bringing many upgraded specifications and design improvements over the 15.4-inch MacBook, including a sharper display, faster graphics, better speakers, and a redesigned keyboard with scissor switches—not butterfly switches.
Starting at an eye-watering $2,400 for the base model, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is somewhat of a luxury affair and has been engineered specifically for folks who Apple considers to be “pro users.” In other words, professionals and creatives who get stuff done on MacBooks. Preorders are open now on Apple’s site with availability elsewhere due in the next week, which is around when initial orders from Apple will ship (November 15-20 depending on what version you order).
Spec-wise, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has the same processor options as you would have found on the previous 15.4-inch model (a 2.6 GHz Core i7 with six cores or a 2.3 GHz Core i9 with eight cores), though most of the other internal components have seen a boost. For instance, the 16-incher has newer graphics chips, offering a Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M with 4 GB of GDDR6 video memory compared to the Radeon Pro 555X or 560X with GDDR5 VRAM in the older MacBook.
The base model 16-inch MacBook Pro for $2,400 comes with 16 GB of DDR4 memory and a 512 GB SSD, while the $2,799 version pushes the internal flash storage to 1 TB. Both systems have a 16-inch Retina display with a resolution of 3072 x 1920, a pixel density of 226ppi, a brightness rating of 500 nits, and support for P3 wide color gamut.
Likewise, on both machines you’ll find four Thunderbolt 3 connectors, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a Force Touch trackpad, a headphone jack, a Touch Bar and Touch ID, a six-speaker sound system, as well as a full-size backlit keyboard that has been re-engineered with feedback from the aforementioned “pro users.”
If you miss the scissor switches inside older MacBook keyboards and hate the butterfly switches in most of today’s MacBooks, then you ought to love the keyboard on this new 16-incher. Many people have been unhappy with the implementation of butterfly switches in Apple’s MacBook keyboard over the last few years, and this prompted the company to launch an internal project that dug into the “physiology” and “psychology” of typing, according to Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller in this CNET interview.
“We questioned everything in this new MacBook Pro. Nothing got away without some scrutiny and discussion and debate,” Schiller told CNET. “[The butterfly switch] had some things it did really well, like creating a much more stable key platform. It felt more firm and flat under your finger—some people really like that, but other people weren’t really happy with that. We got sort of a mixed reaction. We had some quality issues we had to work on. Over the years we’ve been refining that keyboard design, and we’re now on the third generation, and a lot of people are much happier with that as we’ve advanced and advanced it.”
Again though, you won’t find the third-generation butterfly switches on the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Instead, its keyboard has scissor switches that are modeled after the mechanism in Apple’s standalone Magic Keyboard, which is what many Apple users said they wanted when the company reached out for feedback. More than just swapping the switches out, the new keyboard has been entirely redesigned down to the ideal size key cap and key spacing.
Even the Touch Bar has seen some improvements. Being a bit larger than the previous 15.4-inch model, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has a bit more elbow room in all directions to expand different hardware elements. Apple took advantage of this with the new Touch Bar, which affords room for a physical Escape key on the top left and is spaced a little bit further away from the number keys to prevent accidental input.
Perhaps of note, if you purchase any Mac including the new 16-inch, Apple will throw in a free year of access to its new Apple TV+ video streaming service.