The Good Apple is adding new Intel CPUs, faster memory, longer battery life, and a new Force Touch trackpad to a standard 13-inch MacBook Pro that stores a wide variety of ports.
The Bad The 2015 updates make little difference in practical experience, while similar 13-inch high-end laptops continue to get thinner and lighter.
The Bottom Line Despite the fact that everything is heard in the future of the 12-inch MacBook, this 13-inch system receives several updates to remain the best choice for combining power and portability.
Editorial Note (June 27, 2017): At this year’s World Developers Conference , Apple gave its laptop line a modest makeover. The $1,299 12-inch MacBook and $999 13-inch MacBook Air have been updated with faster, more powerful Intel processors. New MacBook Pros – the $1,299 13-inch, $1,799 13-inch with Touch Bar, and $2,399 15-inch with Touch Bar – Have these new circuits, along with updated graphics hardware.
Otherwise, except for the fall in RAM and a slight drop in prices there, the 2017 party is very similar to the one from 2016, with the same enclosures, ports, trackpads and screens. But be warned: Buying a new MacBook Pro may require you to invest a variety of adapters for your legacy devices. Also note that 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro, viewed below, was discontinued though $ 1,999 15-inch model this crop remains available to those who want all ports and fewer keys.
Apple’s MacBook Pro gets an early upgrade by Dan Ackerman01:49Replay videoLarge play-pause toggle The new Force Force Touch trackpad first appears in the updated MacBook Pro AutoplayOnOff 00:00 02:15 Settings
For the past several generations, we have noted that Apple’s MacBook Pro line has received only minor technical updates, while maintaining the same aluminum chassis base. Other premium laptops have shaved ounces and millimeters off their bodies, added touch screens and hybrid hinges, new graphics cards and even 4K displays, while the MacBook Pro, like the MacBook Air, looks just like the last few years.
As of spring 2015, 13 inches MacBook Pro retains the same high-resolution mesh housing and display as before, while adding some specification enhancements that work from minor to significant. As expected, the system switches to the Core i chips of the fifth generation, also known as the Broadwell codename. The performance leap from this is small, but battery life is gaining momentum, and Apple’s built-in flash memory, similar to solid-state drives (SSDs) found in other laptops, also increases speed.
But the most notable update is the addition of a new Apple Force Touch trackpad . This new design looks a lot like the standard well-priced Apple trackpad, but it trades in a top-hinged and clickable surfaces for a new, click-free design that mimics the feel of physical padding through quick feedback.
This new trackpad also fits in with the long-awaited The new 12-inch MacBook, where the ultra-slim body really benefits from a slimmer click-free design. The 13-inch Pro is more of a party gimmick, and apart from some of the contextual pop-ups offered when you press hard, you may not even notice the difference.
So, there is nothing stopping the game changes and the same starting price of $ 1299 (£ 999 in the UK and $ 1799 in Australia) as more and more people tell me that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is now the Mac they most want buy?
This is possible because this model is best kept up with the changing landscape of the laptop. The modern Air models restrain old designs and low screen resolution and 15-inch MacBook Pro didn’t get the same updates or new trackpad, and just too big to drag more than once or twice a week (though that’s great for the desktop system). The classic MacBook Pro, a non-Retina display, surprisingly still hangs like the latest MacBook with optical drive, but still little to recommend. There is a lot of buzz around new 12-inch MacBook , but its low-power Intel Core M processor, lack of ports, and low-resolution webcam mean it most likely won’t be a workhorse like other Macs.
This leaves this 13-inch Pro with the best performance, battery life, portability and extensibility in Apple’s current line of laptops, and one of the first places to look for if you want to buy a laptop with premium prices.
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (13-inch, 2015)
|Price as reviewed||$1,299, £999, AU$1,799|
|Display size/resolution||13.3-inch 2,560×1,600 screen|
|PC CPU||2.7GHz Intel Core i5-5257U|
|PC memory||8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz|
|Graphics||1,536MB Intel HD Iris Graphics 6100|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Apple OS X Yosemite 10.10.2|
Design and features
The exterior design of the MacBook Pro remains unchanged since the 2013 model we reviewed (and, in fact, has not changed from the original 2012), so much of our analysis of the previous models goes over. Since this is the biggest difference, we have already made one separately practical analysis of trackpads .
It’s 18 mm thick and 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg), it’s by no means the smallest or lightest 13-inch laptop around. This has become even more apparent over the past few months with lightweight yet powerful systems such as the Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo LaVie Z taking up less space and weighing less by offering standard Core i5 processors.
An aluminum frame with an edge-to-edge glass display is a familiar but still welcome design touch, and this glass-like look also comes with the new 12-inch MacBook. However, it’s not as attractive as the barely front panel on the Dell XPS 13, which really moves the needle through design.
The island-style keyboard is the same as seen on the last several generations of MacBook. Other laptops have matched, but not surpassed, the backlit Apple keyboard, with the possible exception of Lenovo, a company as involved with keyboard R&D as any. The first real break with the current Apple keyboard standard is coming up in that 12-inch MacBook , which lowers the height of the key and changes the underlying mechanism to reduce key variations.
One of the new parts of Apple that comes with this MacBook Pro before any other system is the new Force Touch trackpad. I suspect we’ll see it on every MacBook for too long, but that’s where you can try it first.
The Force Touch trackpad eliminates the upper hinge, which previously required physical pushing on the glass top of the pad, usually somewhere from the bottom half for proper registration. Instead, the new pad places four sensors under the pad, one at each angle. This replaces the design, which some describe as a “diving board” with a simple, flat surface.
Four sensors do this so that you can “click” anywhere on the surface of the pad with the same results, and a push effect that combines sensors with quick (or “tactical”) feedback allows you to have two levels of click perception within application or task. This deep clicking feels like a finger and the brain, like a trackpad, has a stepped physical mechanism, but in fact the movement you feel is a small tactile tactical tap, which, even when fully explained, still feels like you’re suppressing a two-level trackpad.
Test driving Apple’s Force Touch trackpad by Dan Ackerman02:49Replay videoLarge play-pause toggle Test driving… AutoplayOnOff 00:00 02:49 Settings
Other companies in the past have experimented with non-click gaskets and pressure sensitive surfaces such as ForcePad that Synaptics a few years ago tried next to windows 8.
Retina display is one of the main reasons why you can choose MacBook Pro for lower resolution MacBook Air models. Better than 1080p displays are becoming more common, and some Windows laptops now have even higher resolutions than the MacBook Pro. It is rare, but not audible, to see the full 4K resolution of a laptop, usually paired with a touch screen.
The 2,560×1,600-pixel resolution here is more than enough for a 13-inch display (15-inch Pro – 2880×1 800), and it looks crisp, bright and colorful, even if the Retina display isn’t quite unique. were introduced in 2012.
Ports and connections
|Video||1x HDMI, 2x Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt 2|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, combo headphone-out/microphone-in jack|
|Data||2x Thunderbolt 2 ports, 2x USB 3.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0|
Links and performance
With all the complaints about a single port on a future 12-inch MacBook, all you have to do is look at the Pro lineup to see how many Apple connections can squeeze into another small laptop. Here you get three common video outputs when you count dual-use Thunderbolt 2 / Mini DisplayPort ports, plus HDMI. USB and SD cards are also connected, but they are missing from the 12-inch MacBook in favor of a single USB Type C (aka USB-C).
MacBooks, especially Pro models, which typically have faster processor and more memory, always work well in our benchmark tests. For this model of 2015, the move to the Core i5-5257U Core i5-5257U Core i5-5257U line of processors did not move the needle much for program performance, but we didn’t expect it.
These new processors have improved performance, which can lead to better battery life. But both this new model and the 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2014 have led to most of our tests (note that the 15-inch Pro 2014 had a more powerful but older Core i7 processor and twice the RAM, 16GB ), though Apple’s promise of a faster hard drive didn’t help the system in our Photoshop test, where it integrates with other Broadwell systems and last year’s MacBook Air.
Apple promised an extra hour of battery life over the Broadwell jump, and we were very impressed with the length of time the system worked. Our standard MacBook Pro 2015 battery trip test took 15 hours 46 minutes, just 40 minutes behind our flagship, 13-inch 2014 MacBook Air. We tried running the same test with an active Wi-Fi antenna, and it lasted about 13 hours. Untouchable Dell XPS 13 and HP Specter x360 – Examples of Windows notebooks with Broadwell processors, which are also getting high ratings, each run about 12 hours.
Updates to this version of MacBook Pro in 2015 look a bit paper-based, and in practice testing, it certainly works the same as the same MacBook pros we’ve been using for several years.
But while not improving battery life and components, and adding surprises such as the Force Force trackpad, Apple supports the system much more modern than Air (which, despite its lower resolution and thick screen panel, is still one of the most versatile laptops around, even if it gets a little gray at the edges). Because of this, I can see the 13-inch Pro moving into the leading position in the Apple lineup for those who want to combine long battery life, smart portability and the ability to run multiple high-end applications, from Photoshop to Logic, into one laptop.
|Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2015)||Apple OSX 10.10.2 Yosemite; 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-5257U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1,536MB Intel Iris Graphics 6100; 128GB SSD|
|HP Spectre x360 13t||Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD 5500 Graphics; 256GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 13 (2015, non-touch)||Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2,000MB (shared) Intel HD 5500 Graphics; 128GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 13 (2015, touchscreen)||Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD 5500 Graphics; 256GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2014)||Apple OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks ; 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-4260U; 4GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1536MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5000; 128GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2014)||Apple OS X 10.9.4 Mavericks; 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4770HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,536MB Intel Iris Pro Graphics; 256GB SSD|