The MacBook Pro 16-inch is Apple’s latest professional laptop, and it represents an exciting evolution for the MacBook Pro line, which we feel has seemed a little unambitious lately.
While the 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Pros that Apple launched earlier this year were only minor upgrades over previous models, the new MacBook Pro 16-inch is a far more revolutionary offering, and one which feels almost tailor-made for modern creatives.
In fact, Apple has been keen to stress that it has listened to its customers when designing the MacBook Pro 16-inch, and has offered them “more of what they love.” The result is a drastically-improved MacBook Pro with some excellent new features that makes it one of the best laptops for graphic design.
So, you get some of the most powerful mobile hardware in the world, as well as a gorgeous new larger screen – and increased resolution as well. While it does still have a few frustrating quirks we’ve come to expect from an Apple laptop – which we’ll get to in a moment – what you’re essentially getting is a larger, more powerful MacBook Pro. More of what you love, indeed, and also one of the best laptops for designers you can buy right now.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch: Price
When it comes to the price of the MacBook Pro 16-inch, there’s good news and bad news. First, the bad: as you’d expect from a high-end Apple product, the MacBook Pro 16-inch is a very expensive device, and represents a serious investment.
However, the good news is that Apple hasn’t raised the price of the base model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro compared to the base model of the earlier 15-inch model. For £2,399 you get a 6-core Intel Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 4GB GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
This is the same price that Apple was asking for the 2019 model of the MacBook Pro 15-inch, which comes with a 6-core 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor, Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage.
That means the larger screen, plus double the storage and better graphics, all comes for effectively free. If you were conflicted about whether to get the 16-inch model or the 15-inch model, the answer is clear: get the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
There is also a higher-end model that comes with a 2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 processor, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M, 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD for £2,799, which is the same price as the high end 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Now that the 16-inch MacBook Pro is out, we’ll likely see the price of the 15-inch model drop – though Apple itself has stopped selling the 15-inch model. In Apple’s view, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is now the high-end MacBook Pro offering, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro the more affordable option.
For anyone who just bought the 15-inch MacBook Pro earlier this year, however, the news that their new purchase is now outdated, may not be too welcome.
Apple also allows you to configure the MacBook Pro 16-inch to add more power if you need it. This is great for building a MacBook Pro that suits your needs (and budget), though it does add to the price quite quickly – the most powerful option for the MacBook Pro 16-inch will cost a huge £5,769!
To justify the high price, the MacBook Pro 16-inch needs to be a seriously impressive performer.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch: Power and performance
So, how does the MacBook Pro 16-inch perform, and does it make it a good investment considering the price tag? The good news is that it performs brilliantly.
The version we tried is the high-end base configuration, which comes with an 8-core Intel Core i9 processor and 16GB of RAM. This makes the laptop an excellent performer when it comes to multitasking. If you often work with lots of different applications open at once – for example if you’re rendering a video and want to fire off a few emails or create a presentation at the same time – then the MacBook Pro 16-inch can do this.
The AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics card is also a very powerful professional-grade GPU. If you’re a video editor who works with high resolution footage, or a 3D designer, then you’ll find the performance of the MacBook Pro 16-inch to be seriously impressive. Apple has managed to fit the kind of performance we’d expect from a big, bulky, desktop PC into the impressively svelte body of the MacBook Pro.
Of course, if you don’t need to do that kind of intensive work, then the MacBook Pro 16-inch is probably too overpowered for your needs. In this case, you’re better of buying a regular MacBook or laptop instead.
When it comes to battery life, the MacBook Pro 16-inch really shines. Many laptops that offer this kind of power do so at the expense of battery life, which means you need to plug them in while you’re working.
However, we’re pleased to say that the MacBook Pro 16-inch offers exceptional battery life. By Apple’s estimates, the MacBook Pro 16-inch gives around an hour more battery life compared to the 15-inch model, and in our tests we found that to be pretty accurate, with it lasting 11 hours and 41 minutes, with a looped 1080p video at 50% screen brightness. In contrast, the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition managed just 5 hours and 28 minutes in the same test
Apple has achieved this by including a 100-watt-hour battery (16 WH larger than the previous models). This is the largest capacity battery the FAA allows on flights, and thanks to the power efficiency of both Apple’s hardware and software, it means you’re unlikely to see better battery life in a powerful laptop.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch: Display
Perhaps the most noticeable change with the new MacBook Pro is the increased screen size. Recently, the largest screen you could get on a MacBook Pro was 15-inches, but Apple has bumped that up to 16-inches.
The good news is that this hasn’t impacted image quality, as Apple has also increased the resolution as well, which is now 3,072 x 1,920 with a pixel density of 226 pixels per inch. Compared to the 15-inch model’s 2,880 x 1,800 resolution, which offered a pixel density of 220ppi, the new screen of the MacBook Pro 16-inch offers sharper image quality.
It features the same P3 colour gamut, which is essential for photographers and video editors who rely on accurate colours, and means the screen of the MacBook Pro 16-inch is one of the most vibrant displays on a laptop.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch: Key features
Whilst the larger screen is the most noticeable change, another welcome new feature of the MacBook Pro 16-inch is an overhauled keyboard.
The keyboards included in previous models of the MacBook Pro used Butterfly switches for the keys. While the aim of these was to allow the MacBook Pro to be as thin as possible by keeping the depth of the keyboard shallow, it lead to a number of complaints from users who found that the keys would become unresponsive, especially if debris, such as dust, went between the keys.
It was enough of a problem that Apple started a returns service where its customers could send in their faulty MacBook Pros. Obviously, this resulted in quite a PR disaster for Apple, so we’re very pleased to see Apple finally replace the problematic Butterfly switch with Scissor switches found in the Magic Keyboard, Apple’s popular keyboard for iMacs.
This has also made the keyboard of the MacBook Pro 16-inch feel much more responsive and tactile, offering an overall more pleasant typing experience.
The MacBook Pro 16-inch runs macOS Catalina, Apple’s latest operating system. One of the best features of the new OS is Sidecar. This allows you to use an iPad as a second screen. So, you could draw on the iPad with the Apple Pencil stylus, and your doodles will appear on the MacBook Pro 16-inch.
There are a number of creative apps that allow you to use the iPad along with the Apple Pencil stylus to control the apps via touch, and it’s one of the best new features for creatives. However, this is a feature that’s not exclusive to the new 16-inch model; any Mac that can run macOS Catalina can make use of this feature.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch: Should you buy it?
So, should you buy the MacBook Pro 16-inch? It’s a bit of a complex question, really. There’s no doubt that Apple has made the best MacBook Pro ever with its new device. It’s the most powerful laptop from Apple, and the new larger screen is a real sight to behold.
The improved keyboard is a very welcome addition, hopefully eliminating the problems that plagued previous MacBooks, and it feels so much nicer to work on.
Apple’s iconic design is also still present and correct, and while some people may have hoped for an all-new look, it’s still a gorgeously-designed laptop.
However, it’s also very expensive, and the level of power on offer here won’t be for everyone. If you don’t need to perform heavy-duty graphical tasks like 3D rendering, then your money may be spent elsewhere.
It’s also a shame that Apple is sticking to only including four Thunderbolt ports, which means for any creative professional that uses peripherals with a standard USB connection, like a graphics tablet or a memory card reader, then you’ll need to buy an adapter.