By and large, you can’t go wrong with Apple’s current crop of desktops and laptops powered by Apple Silicon processors. The lineup is stronger than it has ever been, especially with this week’s launch of new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M2 inside.
But there’s one notable exception. There’s one MacBook that pretty much no one should buy, and that’s the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
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The current MacBook lineup
When reviews of the M2 MacBook Pro were published last year, a consensus was immediately clear: it’s the same exact MacBook Pro that Apple has sold for years, just with an M2 chip inside. It features the previous generation design, the same Touch Bar, the same two USB-C ports, and the same limitations.
For context, here’s the current slate of Apple’s MacBook lineup:
There’s a glaring hole in that lineup, with a $700 price delta between the M2 MacBook Pro and the 14-inch MacBook Pro.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro exists to fill that gap, but it’s so far below the 14-inch MacBook Pro, in terms of both price and capabilities, that it doesn’t really fill that gap. It gets even more confusing when you look at how close the M2 MacBook Pro is to the M1 MacBook Air and the M2 MacBook Air, again in terms of both price and features.
The M2 MacBook Air specifically offers some benefits over the M2 MacBook Pro. You get an extra port thanks to the MagSafe charging connector, the webcam is 1080p vs 720p on the MacBook Pro, and the speaker system is more powerful. The display is slightly larger as well, with Apple branding it as a “Liquid Retina Display.”
Again, remember the MacBook Air with M2 is $100 cheaper than the M2 MacBook Pro – despite the advantages. And don’t forget the modern design of the MacBook Air, the color options, and the lighter and thinner form factor. There’s also no Touch Bar – which is a good thing for many people, though there are some Touch Bar fans out there. Dozens, even!
Which MacBook should you buy?
I hope I’ve made the argument clear enough that you already know part of the answer to this question. Unless you are an absolute Touch Bar fanatic, there’s no reason to buy the M2 MacBook Pro. Not only is it more expensive than the two MacBook Air models, but it’s also inferior in a number of different ways.
I hope that Apple closes the gap between the $1299 MacBook Pro and the $1999 MacBook Pro. There are whispers of a new 15-inch MacBook/MacBook Air of some sort coming in 2023 or 2024. This machine might even feature options for either an M2 or M2 Pro chip inside. Ideally, this will sit right in between the two MacBook Pro models.
If you’re shopping for a MacBook and you need it immediately, the M1 MacBook Air is the best option without shelling out $2,000 for the 14-inch MacBook Pro. The M2 MacBook Air is an even more enticing option with its modern design, improved screen, and faster processor.
So why does the M2 MacBook Pro exist? Well, it exists to fill the gap between the MacBook Air and the 14-inch MacBook Pro. It does that poorly. Looking beyond that, it seems to purely come down to marketing. There are some people (and particularly enterprise buyers) who are dead set on buying a “Pro” machine from Apple.
It’s actually a bit deceiving. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 chip is branded as a “Pro” machine, but it’s not “Pro” in any way. The only things that may justfy the “Pro” adjective are its fans and its longer battery life. The fans might let the M2 MacBook Pro sustain peak performance longer than the fan-less MacBook Air. For most people, however, this doesn’t mean anything.
Other than that, it’s not a “Pro” machine. In fact, you could even argue that the MacBook Air fits that “Pro” branding better.
What do you think of the current MacBook lineup? Are you planning to buy a new MacBook soon? Let us know down in the comments.
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