Apple just updated its super-charged Macbook Pro laptop for 2016, upgrading the specs and adding some very cool new features like the Touch Bar and Touch ID support. So what’s the difference between this new 2016 model of Macbook Pro and the old Macbook Pro from 2015, and should you upgrade?
Apple has peeled back the bubble wrap from its latest shiny new thing, the 2016 Macbook Pro laptop, which is its most powerful portable computer to date. But there’s lots more to this new Macbook than just a specs boost.
From the funky new Touch Bar to the inclusion of the latest USB-C ports, Apple has worked hard on changing up the hardware for the latest Macbook Pro. Question is, are these extras worth shelling out serious money for if you already own a Macbook Pro?
Here’s our full Macbook Pro 2016 vs Macbook Pro 2015 comparison review, with a run-down of the Macbook Pro 2016’s best features, so you know whether an upgrade is worth it.
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Macbook Pro 2016 vs Macbook Pro 2015: Design and build
Both the 13-inch and 15-inch Macbook Pro models for 2016 are thinner and lighter than the previous Pros, despite quite a significant boost in specs.
The 13-inch 2016 Macbook Pro is just 1.37kg, versus 1.58kg for last year’s model. It’s also a wee bit slimmer, at 14.9mm thick rather than the 15.5mm thickness of the old Pro.
The 15-inch 2016 Macbook Pro is 1.83kg versus 2.04kg for last year and 15.5mm versus last year’s 18mm thickness.
Not a massive difference of course and certainly not worth upgrading for, but at least the new Pros are going to be slightly easier to slip into a backpack and lighter for carrying around all day. You also get bigger touchpads on all of the new Macbook Pros, making them easier to use.
Macbook Pro 2016 vs Macbook Pro 2015: Screen and media
Both sizes of the new Macbook Pro of course come with Retina displays. You get a 2560 x 1600 resolution on the 13-inch model and a 2880 x 1800 resolution on the 15-inch model. In other words, there’s no difference between the Macbook Pro 2016 and the old Pro models when it comes to screen size or sharpness.
However, Apple has made the new Macbook Pro displays brighter and more colourful. You now get 500 nits at maximum brightness, which is a 67 per cent increase over the previous Macbook Pro generation. Sounds strong enough to sear your retinas, basically. There’s also stronger contrast and a wider colour gamut, for more accurate and vivid colour reproduction.
Apparently the new Macbook Pro displays also consume 30 per cent less energy than before, so here’s hoping that makes for longer-lasting battery life.
Finally, the 2016 Macbook Pro boasts more powerful, true-to-life speakers, for a better aural experience.
Macbook Pro 2016 vs Macbook Pro 2015: Touch Bar and Touch ID
The most exciting addition to the new Macbook Pro has to be the Touch bar, an innovative strip that’s housed just above the keyboard. This OLED touch-sensitive panel replaces the function keys of older Macbooks Pros, in favour of an adaptive display that’s much more than just a second screen.
Apple’s Touch Bar can be used to show off information of course, but it also pops up context-sensitive shortcuts and controls that change depending on which app you’re using. For instance, in media apps you will get volume sliders and other controls; in a web browser you’ll see all of your favourite bookmarks; you’ll get text predictions when typing, and so on.
Even better, the Touch Bar has a built-in Touch ID panel. Yup, that shiny new strip of glass is able to read your fingerprint to unlock the laptop. This adds a layer of security to the new Macbook Pros, which extends to online shopping and browsing – meaning you’ll be able to verify payments using your finger, just like on an iPhone.
So far this is the best reason to upgrade your old Macbook Pro to the latest 2016 model. With some impressive new functionality, the Touch Bar really is an innovative feature that adds lots of value. However, note that the most basic 13-inch Macbook Pro 2016 doesn’t have a Touch Bar.
Macbook Pro 2016 vs Macbook Pro 2015: All the ports
Apple’s new Macbook Pro features four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, and USB 3.1, whereas the 2015 Macbook Pro came with a MagSafe 2 power port, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, two USB 3 ports, an HDMI port, and SDXC card slot.
In this instance, the older MacBook does have one up on the new model as it offers an SD card reader for expanding the on-board storage, which in the 2016 model has been ditched. Of course, you could just buy an adapter, use Wi-Fi storage, or any number of other solutions. But for those that use the SD slot a lot, this might be annoying.
Of course, the new Type-C USB ports means you’ll get faster data transfer, which is nice.
Macbook Pro 2016 vs Macbook Pro 2015: Performance
The new 15-inch Macbook Pro for 2016 offers boosted graphics performance thanks to a dedicated Radion Pro 450 or 455 GPU with 2GB of GDD55 memory and Intel HD Graphics 530. That’s a big step up from the last year’s Intel Pro Iris Graphics (still found on the new 13-inch Macbook Pro), which is great news for creative users and gamers.
The 13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar offers a 2.9GHz Core i5, 256GB SSD storage and 8GB RAM. The 15-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar dishes out a 2.6GHz Core i7, 256GB SSD storage and 16GB RAM.
Macbook Pro 2016 vs Macbook Pro 2015: Price and release date
The 2016 Macbook Pro 13-inch model starts at £1,749, and the 2016 Macbook Pro 15-inch model starts at £2,349.
The 2015 Macbook Pro 13-inch model started at £1,150, while the 15-inch model started at £1,600.
Apple says the basic Macbook Pro 13-inch without the Touch Bar will be released in the UK on October 29, with the Touch Bar models to follow two to three weeks later.