Apple recently announced the 2016 refresh of the MacBook Pro. It may have some cool new features, such as the Touch Bar, but it also lacks some major features – mainly ports. Apple opted to remove all ports, and just keep 2-4 USB Type-C (or “Thunderbolt 3” as they call it) ports, and a headphone jack. With all of this negative press, is the 2016 MacBook Pro as bad as it seems?
Some History on USB Type-C
USB Type-C is the newest in USB ports. It’s goal is to replace USB 3.1, as it’s extremely versatile. It can be a charging port, a data transfer port, even a way to connect an external display. Basically, USB Type-C is the “mother” of ports. It does it all. In addition, it’s more compact and reversible, unlike USB 3.1. For that reason, it’s quickly becoming a popular port to use for smartphone and computer manufacturers. We’ve seen it on many flagship smartphones: the Nexus 6P, the Google Pixel, the LG G5, the OnePlus Three, and the (failed) Note7. In addition, we’ve already seen it added to laptops, primarily some Chromebooks.
Apple Adopts USB Type-C
We’ve already seen Type-C port on the 2015 MacBook, which was criticized for only including one port. This faced users with an awkward dilemma: either charge your laptop, or have a port to plug one thing in.
The MacBook Pro is known for, well, being for “pros.” For that reason, the 2015 version included many ports ranging from USB 3.0, to SD, to Thunderbolt. For this reason, it was a shock to professionals when Apple dropped every port except USB Type-C. Honestly, I applaud Apple for what they did, and here’s why:
People Need to be Forced to Move On
USB Type-C is the latest technology for everything. It’s not some stupid, proprietary port that Apple came up with (I’m looking at you, Lightning). USB Type-C is the new standard for USB, and I think it’s amazing that Apple is “assisting” people in switching to it.
What Apple Did Wrong
With that being said, there is one port I think Apple should have kept, and that’s the SD card reader. Since an SD card isn’t a traditional peripheral, such as a mouse, external hard drive, or monitor, I think it would be acceptable to keep that port. Many MacBook Pro users are photographers and/or videographers and rely on an SD card reader for their job.
Here’s the other thing I don’t get: Apple kept the headphone jack. Laugh at me all you want, but it doesn’t make sense. Apple is making a push with the iPhone for Lightning headphones (or wireless headphones), but you can’t plug your new Lightning headphones into your Mac? That doesn’t make sense, Apple. What happened to courage? Either Apple needs to bring Lightning to Mac, or bring USB Type-C to iPhone. I think USB Type-C would be the best solution. Apple is going with the new standard in the MacBook Pro, so why not put it in the iPhone? Isn’t Apple all about consistency? Unfortunately, I don’t think USB Type-C will ever see the light of day on iPhone. After all, Apple is rolling in the cash from licensing fees on 3rd party Lightning accessories.
Let’s talk about greed. While I think it’s great that Apple is “assisting” people to move to USB Type-C, it’s just greedy that they don’t include a USB Type-C to USB 3.0 adapter in the box. Apple did temporarily slash the price of this adapter in half, but would it kill them to include a $9 adapter for something that costs a minimum of $1499? Keeping on the theme of greed, Apple only includes 2 USB Type-C ports on the baseline model. Really? Not including the Touch Bar on the baseline model is fine, but only giving us 2 USB Type-C ports only shows more greed.
I have one more nit-pick about the 2016 MacBook Pro: the keyboard. Apple, this is supposed to be your “pro” model. I don’t think professional users care about it being thinner. Give us a good keyboard! The thin butterfly switches were acceptable on the MacBook, because that doesn’t have “pro” in the name. Taking this awful keyboard to the MacBook Pro is just sad.
What Apple Did Right
Alright, enough negative. There are some amazing things about the 2016 MacBook Pro. First, the Touch Bar. Call it a gimmick, but regardless of how useful it will be, it’s cool, and I think it’s a true innovation. I’ve never been a fan of touchscreen laptops, as it’s highly inconvenient to have to move your hands off of the keyboard. All that to say, the Touch Bar is a happy compromise. It brings the benefits of touch to the convenience of your keyboard.
Second, the brighter display is a nice improvement. It’s not a huge feature, but it’s definitely nice.
Last, and the most underrated, the louder speaker. Laptop speakers are never great, but the MacBook Pro’s speaker sure packs a punch.
Apple is not what it once was. They’ve demonstrated greed on multiple levels with the new MacBook Pro. I support them in making all of the ports USB Type-C, but removing the SD card reader, as well as not including a USB-Type C adapter in the box shows their greed. The MacBook Pro is still a solid laptop, but if Apple continues in this direction, soon the professional world will be converted to Windows.