Updated June 26th: article originally posted June 24th.
If you’re looking for a MacBook Pro, Apple has several choices. You might think that every one of Apple’s laptops is good value for money and worth the investment. You would be wrong. After WWDC, the release of the new 15-inch MacBook Air, and the latest details on the plans for the larger MacBook Pro models it’s almost impossible to recommend the consumer-focused 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Update: Monday June 26th: Not only is Apple still selling the M2-powered MacBook Pro, it’s also preparing to update the platform and debut the M3 Apple Silicon chipset. Following the precedent set at the launch of the M1 and M2 chips, with Apple launching a MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro alongside the hardware, the launch of the M3 chipset would naturally be alongside the hardware.
The details come from noted Apple watcher Mark Gurman. His weekly newsletter for Bloomberg lists the next wave of Mac hardware:
“An M3 13-inch MacBook Pro (codenamed J504); M3 Pro and M3 Max 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros (codenamed J514 and J516); New iMacs (codenamed J433 and J434) with 24-inch screens, the company is also conducting early work on an iMac with a screen over 30 inches, I’m told; New MacBook Air models (codenamed J613 and J615).”
I’d expect those new MacBook Air models to be the M3 launch models and to appear alongside the increasingly awkward 13-inch MacBook Pro
The MacBook Air started as a status symbol built around the thinness of Apple’s design. Since then, it has become the mainstay of Apple’s consumer-focused laptops and is arguably the biggest laptop brand on the planet. With the move to Apple Silicon, the Air was no longer limited by the performance of the lightweight Intel Core chipsets. Power, performance, and endurance were all unlocked in 2020 by the M1-powered MacBook Air.
Two years later, the M2 offered around twenty per cent uplift in performance. The M1 was already delivering more than enough capability for consumers – and Apple left it in the portfolio as the $999 entry-level MacBook – while the M2 MacBook Air was there for those needing a little bit more.
With the launch of a 15-inch MacBook Air (even if it is a year late by some measure), Apple can offer a first step laptop, a more powerful laptop, and a large display laptop for consumers. There’s no space in that sweep for a MacBook Pro that offers the same M2 chipset as the two MacBook Air options… unless you need a tiny step in performance because the internal fan allows the M2 to run slightly hotter.
Frankly, that’s a tiny sliver of the consumer base. The Airs offer more than enough power for most consumers, and those who need the performance in a workhorse laptop will look at the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops with the M2 Pro and M2 Max chipsets.
The MacBook Air portfolio offers enough options that consumers who need a macOS-powered laptop will be able to find something either on their own or with help from a Sales Rep. I’m struggling to think how someone working in the Apple Store would be able to recommend the 13-inch MacBook Pro as “the best option for a consumer”?
Perhaps the only option is a cynical one. The laptop is called the MacBook Pro, and the “Pro” branding is powerful for those seeking status through their purchases. The “Pro” branding allows the laptop to be marked up, bringing in more profit.
From a practical point of view, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is to be avoided. All of your other choices within the Apple ecosystem are better.