Apple has just launched the 16-inch MacBook Pro, one that replaces the 15-inch version of the popular notebook line. AppleInsider pitches the specifications of each against each other to see how much of a difference there is between the two models, aside from screen size.
Announced on Wednesday following months of rumors, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has the largest display of all models in Apple's entire MacBook range. The model, which will be available in stores later this week, takes over from the 15-inch MacBook Pro as the larger of two sizes alongside the existing 13-inch MacBook Pro.
On the face of it, the model is still definitely a MacBook Pro in terms of style and usage, but with some tweaks in both its appearance and its specifications.
The Spec List
|15-inch MacBook Pro (Spring 2019)||16-inch MacBook Pro|
|Display Size (inches)||15.4||16|
|Max Resolution||2,880 x 1,800||3,072 x 1,920|
|Brightness||500 nits||500 nits|
|Display Technology||Wide Color (P3), True Tone||Wide Color (P3), True Tone|
|Processors||2.6GHz 6-core i7, 2.3GHz 8-core i9, 2.4GHz 8-core i9||2.6Ghz 6-core i7, 2.3Ghz 8-core i9, 2.4Ghz 8-core i9|
|Memory||16GB 2,400MHz DDR4, up to 32GB||16GB 2,666MHz DDR, up to 64GB|
|Graphics (integrated)||Intel UHD Graphics 630||Intel UHD Graphics 630|
|Graphics (discrete)||Radeon Pro 555X 4GB, Radeon Pro 560X 4GB, Radeon Pro Vega 16 4GB, Radeon Pro Vega 20 4GB||Radeon pro 5300M 4GB, Radeon Pro 550M 4GB, Radeon pro 5500M 8GB|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB||512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB|
|Touch Bar||Yes, with integrated Touch ID||Yes, with Integrated Touch ID|
|Trackpad||Force Touch||Force Touch|
|Keyboard||Backlit with ambient light sensor||Backlit with ambient light sensor|
|Dimensions (inches)||13.75 x 9.48 x 0.61||14.09 x 9.68 x 0.64|
|Battery Life||10 Hours||11 Hours|
|Thunderbolt 3 ports||4||4|
|Webcam||720p FaceTime HD||720p FaceTime HD|
|Speakers||Stereo speakers with high dynamic range||Six speakers with force-cancelling woofers, Dolby Atmos|
|Microphones||3||3 with directional beamforming|
|Charger||87W USB-C||96W USB-C|
|Color Options||Silver, Space Gray||Silver, Space Gray|
|Price||From $2,399||from $2,399|
From a distance, observers can easily determine the two are MacBooks, as they continue to share Apple's long-established design language. The similarity in design does mean it is hard to tell whether the version being held is the 15-inch or 16-inch variant at a glance, as an extra inch of diagonal screen size does impact the enclosure's design, but it is only noticeable at the diagonal.
In terms of their physical presence, the 15-inch model is 13.75 inches in width and 9.48 inches in depth, meanwhile the 16-inch is in the same ballpark at 14.09 inches and 9.68 inches respectively. A similar story can be said about thickness, as while the 15-inch version is 0.61 inches thick, the 16-inch model is marginally bigger at 0.64 inches.
You're also carrying around more weight if you have the 16-inch model, with it being 4.3 pounds compared to the 4.02 pounds of its predecessor.
The biggest differentiator between the two models is the screen size itself, with the 15-inch model having a 15.4-inch display while the 16-inch has a 16-inch screen. To accommodate the extra screen estate while minimizing increases in dimensions, Apple has elected to thin the bezels on the side of the display, with the 16-inch MacBook Pro having much thinner bands to the sides.
Of course, the increased screen size also allows Apple to increase the resolution, bringing the 16-inch up to 3,072-by-1920 pixels, while the 15-inch has a 2,880-by-1,800 display. Even so, users are still going to have a relatively similar pixel density on the 16-inch, with its 226 pixels-per-inch display not far off the 220ppi of the 15-inch version.
Apple is continuing to use an LED-backlit IPS display, which kicks out the same 500 nits of brightness as the 15-inch's 500 nits. Wide color (P3) and TrueTone are also present on both models.
The most recent update to the 15-inch MacBook Pro brought with it Intel's Coffee Lake processors, with the model starting from a 2.6GHz 6-core Core i7 with a turbo boost of 4.5Ghz, while at the top end is the 2.4Ghz 8-core Core i9, which can be boosted to 5GHz.
For the 16-inch version, models start with a 2.6 GHz 6-core Core i7, boostable to 4.5Ghz, with options for a 2.3Ghz 8-core Core i9 with a 4.8GHz Turbo Boost and a 2.4Ghz 8-core Core i9 boostable to 5Ghz.
While this seems to be largely similar to the 15-inch, the processors in the 16-inch are 9th-generation versions, which generally offer better performance.
Memory options are also improved in the new model starting from 16GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 and rising to 64GB, whereas the 15-inch offered 16GB to 32GB of 2,400MHz DDR4. While storage in the 15-inch started at either 256GB or 512GB SSDs and rose to 4TB, the 16-inch doubles the initial values to 512GB and 1TB and has a maximum capacity option of 8TB.
Graphics options have also been updated from the 15-inch's use of the Radeon Pro 555X, 560X, Vega 16 and Vega 20, all equipped with 4GB of memory, along with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630. While the integrated graphics are the same, the 16-inch includes Radeon Pro 5300M and 5500M GPUs with 4GB of GDDR6 memory as standard, configurable to the 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6.
The new GPUs certainly help raise the performance in benchmarks, with a run-through of CineBench on the 15-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro with identical Core i7-9750H processors but with different GPUs, the former having the Radeon Pro 555X and the latter the Radeon Pro 5300M, giving respective scores of 2,395 points and 2,623 points.
A bone of contention for many MacBook Pro users, due to reliability issues, Apple has switched the keyboard yet again for the 16-inch model, for a new Magic Keyboard with an updated scissor mechanism that provides 1mm of key travel, rather than the previous butterfly version. The use of a rubber dome is claimed to store more potential energy for a more responsive key press.
A major change to the design is the introduction of a physical Escape key, one which has been absent in the model since the introduction of the Touch Bar and Touch ID. The reintroduction of the key is likely to be welcomed by developers and those who need access to the key in applications, without having to rely on the software version in the Touch Bar.
An "Inverted T" arrangement has also been included but in a slightly unexpected configuration. Previously the four arrows took up the space of three full-size keys, with full-size left and right arrows and half-height up and down versions.
In the new arrangement, all four keys are half-height, but with added space above the left and right keys to more distinctly mark out the region where the arrow keys are located. This should make it easier to press the keys while minimizing accidental fumbles with the shift key above.
The audio has been given an overhaul in the new model, with the stereo speakers in the 15-inch switched out for a six-speaker system with force-canceling woofers and support for Dolby Atmos. This should provide a far better audio experience for users, short of connecting their AirPods Pro up to the MacBook Pro (see our AirPods Pro Review).
While there are still three microphones, this time they consist of a "studio-quality three-mic array" with high signal-to-noise and directional beamforming, which in theory result in clearer audio recordings with less unwanted background noise.
Both have four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, a headphone port, the Force Touch trackpad, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 support, and a 720p FaceTime HD camera.
Battery life is up in the new model, raising the 10 hours of wireless web surfing in the 15-inch to 11 hours while maintaining 30 days of standby time. The 83.6-watt-hour battery has been exchanged for a 100-watt-hour version. Lastly, the 87-Watt USB-C power adapter is now a 96-Watt USB-C adapter.
More, More, More
The updates Apple has made to the 16-inch MacBook Pro goes far beyond a simple display increase. Even though the size is barely half an inch larger on the diagonal, the extra spare is almost certainly going to be welcomed by users. So too will the higher resolution.
More importantly, Apple has done so with a relatively minimal increase in its footprint and thickness. The weight is a fair bit of an increase, but not that much realistically speaking.
The refreshed specifications for the processor and memory, including higher capacity options for both memory and storage, are also likely to make the new model a draw for power users. For typists keen to get away from the butterfly mechanism, they now have a portable option, complete with an extra Escape key.
The increases continue with more battery life and a more powerful charger to match, and significantly raising the number of speakers from two to six.
For those who wanted to get a 15-inch MacBook Pro, the 16-inch offers far more comforts, and at the same starting price point, in a package that's very close to its predecessor in physical size.
Find the best deal on a MacBook Pro
Apple resellers are accepting orders for the new 16-inch MacBook Pro with a variety of incentives. Expercom is knocking up to $438 off select new configurations with coupon code appleinsider, while Adorama is taking up to $250 off retail models with promo code APINSIDER (prices start at just $2,199 with code). Details can be found in this 16-inch MacBook Pro deal roundup.
Meanwhile, at B&H, shoppers can save $100 on the retail systems and select between no interest financing when paid in full within 12 months with the B&H Financing Card or a sales tax refund in eligible states with its Payboo Credit Card. The latter can save many shoppers anywhere from $200 to $500 on average.
Amazon is also offering instant discounts on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, matching B&H with prices as low as $2,299.
Those looking for the steepest discounts can save save up to $500 on closeout 2019 15-inch MacBook Pros, with prices starting at $1,999.