While the MacBook Air is tremendously popular, some users need a little bit more. More performance, a bigger battery, more ports, a larger screen…if you need more, you need a MacBook Pro.
Before you spend all that money (often upwards of $2,000) on something you hope to keep and use for years, it’s worth asking if this is a good time to buy. In the world of computers, there’s always something better on the way, but if it’s a lot better and it’s coming soon, you might want to wait. Especially with WWDC coming in early June, where Apple might unveil M2-based MacBooks. Here’s what we know about the MacBook Pro and our buying advice.
13-inch MacBook Pro: Pricing and specs
Released: November 2020 Late in 2020, Apple updated the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini with its new M1 processor. We think the M1 MacBook Pro is a great laptop, and a lot more affordable than the newer 14-inch MacBook Pro.
The M1 MacBook Pro has the same lackluster webcam (though with much better image processing), the same silver clamshell aluminum body, the same keyboard, the same limited port selection as the Intel-based MacBook Pro that came before it…even the battery size is the same, it just lasts longer with the efficiency of the M1.
This is Apple’s most affordable MacBook Pro. The newer 14-inch MacBook Pro is similar in size, but has a much more powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max chip, mini-LED HDR display with ProMotion, more ports, MagSafe, an SD card slot, full size function row keys, and more. However, it starts at $1,999.
13-inch MacBook Pro: Why you should buy
The M1 chip is a great upgrade over the Intel chips it replaces. It’s faster than the Intel chip and it delivers much better battery life. Apple sells the 13-inch MacBook Pro starting at $1,199 but you definitely want to get at least the $1,399 version with a 512GB SSD, and it may be worth upgrading the memory to 16GB since it can’t be upgraded later. You can often find it on Amazon for $150 off or more.
The main reason to buy this particular MacBook Pro model is if you’re too price-conscious for the newer 14-inch MacBook Pro, but are willing to pay a premium over the M1 MacBook Air for the addition of the Touch Bar. This is the last Mac to feature the Touch Bar.
13-inch MacBook Pro: Why you should wait
With WWDC coming in early June, we think there’s a pretty good chance Apple might unveil the first Macs with the M2 processor. One of those could be a replacement for this 13-inch MacBook Pro, but even more likely is a new MacBook Air. That product, despite being “only” a MacBook Air, would likely outclass this aging 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Even if you don’t want to wait, there are probably better choices in the MacBook lineup. If you want a high-end MacBook, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is a much better choice. Yes, the starting price is a lot higher, but you get a killer HDR ProMotion display, a much faster M1 Pro or M1 Max processor, higher RAM and storage options, more Thunderbolt ports, HDMI, SD Card slot, MagSafe charging… it’s just a much nicer laptop by every measure.
If you’re looking to save money, the M1 MacBook Air is the way to go. There’s nearly no difference in performance between the M1 MacBook Pro and Air, and the battery life is pretty epic in either of them. The 13-inch MacBook Pro’s only real selling point is the Touch Bar, if you consider that a selling point.
Macworld recommends: WAIT or buy the 14-inch model
Wait for WWDC to see if Apple unveils MacBooks with the M2 processor. Then, you’ll want to decide between one of them and the M1-based 14-inch MacBook Pro, which is more expensive but superior to this 13-inch model in nearly every way.