In Depth

MacBook Pro: Kaby Lake models 'to enter production this year'

Report claims Apple plans to upgrade 13ins and 15ins models 'in third quarter'

161026_macbook.jpg

Apple's current range of MacBook Pros, which feature the newly introduced Touch Bar, could be replaced later this year despite only going on sale three months ago, according to reports. 

In a research note picked up by MacRumors, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says new 13ins and 15ins MacBook Pro models featuring Intel's Kaby Lake processors are expected to enter production in the "early third quarter". 

Apple may also introduce a 15ins MacBook with 32GB RAM, which would be "the most significantly redesigned product this year", adds the analyst. It may utilise desktop-class memory for high-end users. 

Along with this, a new version of the 12ins MacBook will reportedly enter production early in the second quarter and could feature a range-topping 16GB RAM model. The current range of MacBooks is limited to 8GB RAM.

The updated MacBook Pros received mixed reviews when they launched last October, with experts praising the introduction of the Touch Bar, which replaces the top row of keys, but saying it needed further refinement. 

Apple controversially increased the prices of the range to combat the decline in value of the pound against the dollar. Entry-level 13ins MacBook Pros increased by around £450, while 15ins models cost roughly £750 more than the previous models. 

New MacBook Pro: What do the reviewers think? 

31 October

Apple's latest product is a new version of its range-topping MacBook Pro laptop. 

The tech giant unveiled the device at a keynote event last Thursday, showing off a slimmer, more powerful computer with the addition of a context sensitive OLED Touch Bar. 

However, there was a nasty surprise for UK Mac fans though – Apple dramatically increased the prices of its computers here, a move many put down to the Brexit slump in the pound. 

So is Apple's new laptop worth it? Reviews so far have been limited to hands-on time with the laptop backstage after its revel.

However, that's enough for TechRadar to conclude calling the new MacBook Pro a "massive improvement over the previous model would be an understatement". 

From a distance, the laptop looks little different from the old one, it adds. Up close, however, it's clear this is a new machine - significantly thinner and lighter, with the 13ins version packed into a frame that's lighter and smaller than the 13ins MacBook Air. 

This new MacBook Pro gets a butterfly-style keyboard similar to the one introduced on the 12ins MacBook – and criticised for feeling too firm and making keystrokes feel unnatural and unresponsive. However, the revised version used on the new MacBook Pro is a huge improvement, TechRadar says: "Travel is deeper, and feedback upon releasing your fingers from a key is punchier."

The Force Touch haptic feedback trackpad is much better and easier to use too. It's "the kind of trackpad we've wanted for a long time on MacBooks", says the site. 

As for the Touch Bar, it's simple to get to grips with, but TechRadar is a little underwhelmed with the concept. It works "as seamlessly as you'd expect", it says, but it's hard to see "anything that the Touch Bar can do vastly better or more easily than the MacBook Pro's much improved keyboard and trackpad". 

Laptop Mag is much more receptive. "After spending just 20 minutes with the new 13-inch ($1,799) and 15-inch ($2,399) models, I've found [the Touch Bar] be a real time-saver", says editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer. 

The feature will work with almost all Apple-made Mac apps, while other big programs such as Photoshop will support it from launch too. The mag does say the OLED bar isn't quite as bright as you'd hope and that the lack of haptic feedback is disappointing, but it's a novel way to serve up user shortcuts. It even transforms into an emoji keyboard when sending messages, it adds. 

Despite being thinner, Apple has managed to shoehorn more powerful specs inside the MacBook Pro and it "feels very, very quick indeed", Alphr says. 

The laptop left the same impression on Stuff, which says it "performed flawlessly, zipping between apps and videos with not even a sense of a stumble". It'll take proper in-depth reviews to unearth the laptop's true potential, adds the site, but the first signs are good. 

The only pitfall it can see would be battery life – ten hours lags behind the 16 promised by Microsoft's Surface book i7. 

Is it worth the money? Apple is asking at least £1,749 for the 13ins MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and £1,949 for the 15ins version. So far, Stuff says "it might be", but it needs more time with the laptop to see. The site points out that there's a cheaper version on sale without the OLED strip, which comes in at £1,449. 

Alphr and TechRadar also say it's too early to come to a definitive conclusion, but do dish out some tentative buying advice. 

While TechRadar can't really see the point in paying a hefty premium for the Touch Bar – an "insanely cool feature that, frankly, you might not even use" – Alphr says it could be "amazingly useful" and for the money, you're "getting a heck of a lot machine".

It adds: "I might have to sell an organ or two to get one, but I’d like this machine sitting on my desk."

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