Apple refreshed its line of MacBooks Thursday, starting at the top with a redesigned MacBook Pro with a fancy new digital control pad.
But it also shook up things at the lower end, eliminating the 11-inch MacBook Air and offering a new, entry-level MacBook Pro.
So, here’s an FAQ explaining everything you need to know about Apple’s MacBooks.
What new products did Apple announce?
The new MacBook Pro is the only major new product announced Thursday.
How many models are there?
There are three basic MacBook Pro models:
The first is a 13-inch version that does not have the new digital Touch Bar or TouchID fingerprint sensor. (More on the Touch Bar in a bit.) Instead, it has the standard row of physical function keys. This entry-level MacBook Pro looks mostly the same as the higher end MacBook Pros, except it has slower internal specs. It also only has two USB-C ports (more on USB-C later) instead of four like the high-end models.
The second model is a 13-inch version that has the new Touch Bar and TouchID fingerprint sensor. It also has faster internal specs than the entry-level MacBook Pro. There are also four USB-C ports.
Finally, there’s a 15-inch version. It’s mostly the same as the 13-incher with Touch Bar, except with a much larger screen.
Touch Bar? What the heck is that?
The Touch Bar is a glass touchscreen that replaces the function keys at the top of your keyboard. The display changes depending on the app you’re using. For example, you can scrub through video in QuickTime using a slider, pause or play tracks in iTunes, or easily select emojis when typing an iMessage or email.
The Touch Bar is fully adaptable, so it will be different depending on which app you’re using. Third-party apps can also write code to work with the Touch Bar. Expect to see a lot of experimentation in the future.
What about a fingerprint sensor?
The MacBook Pro has a TouchID fingerprint sensor at the end of the Touch Bar. It’s also the power button. You can use the sensor to unlock your computer or make online payments with Apple Pay. You can also program multiple user fingerprints if you share your computer with someone. That way each person can easily log in with their own fingerprint. No more passwords!
What kind of ports does it have?
The MacBook Pro has USB-C ports. USB-C is a new standard plug that can charge the device, transfer data, transfer video to a monitor, and so much more. But USB-C is a very un-Appley name, so Apple calls these ports Thunderbolt ports.
There aren’t any standard USB ports or slots for SD memory cards.
How do I plug in my old accessories?
Unfortunately, you’ll need to use dongles, new cables, or adapters for your old accessories to plug into the USB-C ports. For example, if you want to charge your iPhone with your new MacBook Pro, you’ll have to buy a new Lightning to USB-C cable. It costs a whopping $25. Ugh.
Does it have a headphone jack?
Yes! All new MacBook Pro models have a standard headphone jack.
Is the main display a touchscreen?
No. Only the Touch Bar is a touchscreen. The main display is just a normal high-resolution screen.
What colours does it come in?
All the MacBook Pro models come in two colour options: Space grey or silver.
How much does it cost?
The 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar starts at $1,499.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar starts at $1,799.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar starts at $2,399.
However, you can add more powerful specs to all these models, which will cost more. There are loads of options.
When can I buy it?
Now. The MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar starts shipping Friday. The other models will ship in two or three weeks.
Wait, didn’t Apple say something about a MacBook Air replacement?
Yes. But that probably wasn’t the best thing for Apple to do since it seems to be confusing a lot of people.
The MacBook Air is still around and has not been replaced. But Apple is positioning the entry-level MacBook Pro (the one without the Touch Bar) as a more powerful alternative to the MacBook Air. That’s because the redesigned Pro has slimmed down a bunch and is close to the same size and weight of the MacBook Air. Unfortunately, it’s also a lot more expensive.
So what’s up with the MacBook Air?
The 13-inch MacBook Air is still available starting at $999. It did not get any upgrades. However, Apple did kill the 11-inch MacBook Air on Thursday. The 13-inch Air is your only option now.
Are there any other MacBooks?
Yup. There’s one more model, simply called MacBook. It’s the super-thin MacBook Apple launched in 2015 and updated again this year with faster specs.
So, which MacBook is the best?
Wow. That’s a loaded question.
It really depends on what you want to do. Do you need something relatively cheap and don’t care about a high-res screen? Go with the MacBook Air. Do you want the best of the best? Go with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Do you want a massive screen? Get the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Want something shockingly thin and light? Get the MacBook.