Now that the M2-powered MacBook Pro is on sale, we can have a closer look at Apple’s latest macOS laptop. Following the reveal at WWDC 2022, this entry-level MacBook Pro looked like a great way for Apple to use up a lot of spare parts and old designs, but would it have any value for the consumer? With the review embargo now lifted, let’s find out from those who had early access to Apple’s hardware…

It’s probably worth noting that, compared to laptops from five or six years ago, the M2 MacBook Pro is a significant step upwards, with performance that would be highly sought after in 2016. Just because it’s better than the average laptop from a few years ago does not mean that it is the best laptop right now. Apple has a wide portfolio of Macs, and if you want to look outside of macOS there are many more options in the Windows and Linux world.

Those that do go for this MacBook Pro are going to be buying into a design that is, frankly, looking tired. There may be a school of thought that this is buying “a classic of design” but Apple has shown with the larger MacBook Pro models that it can still deliver stunning form and pack in far more function than is on offer in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. All of the bullet points Apple thinks are worthwhile in tore models are inexplicably missing. Monica Chin for The Verge:

“This MacBook Pro has the exact same chassis as the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro that was released in 2020 (which itself used a design that dates back to 2016). It’s the same 2560 x 1600 screen, the same Magic Keyboard, the same two Thunderbolt ports, the same Touch Bar, and the same slightly tapered sides. Remember all those cool new (technically old) design features, like HDMI ports, SDXC slots, and MagSafe charging Apple put on the MacBook Pro models it released in late 2021? Yeah, none of those are here”

Perhaps the biggest issue with using the old design is that of the display. The larger MacBook Pro laptops have the new mini-LED technology, and even the MacBook Air – which retains the older LED/IPS screen – still picks up the new physical design. CNN’s Mike Andronico:

“The 14-inch MacBook Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro and the new MacBook Air M2 have all adopted virtually bezel-less displays with only a small notch up top; the thick black borders around the MacBook Pro M2’s screen feel like wasted space by comparison. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro still comes with a 720p webcam, and while it’ll be just fine for most people’s video-calling needs, there’s a noticeable lack of detail and clarity when comparing it side-by-side with the 1080p camera on my 14-inch Pro.”

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The new MacBook Pro does have two advantages that may be worth consideration. The first is the M2 will deliver more performance than the M2 in the MacBook Air because the Air is a fan-less design compared to the fan-equipped Pro; which will allow the M2 to run slightly hotter giving a touch more performance… but that still won’t be enough to come close to the power of the M1 Pro and m1 Max chipsets in the larger MacBook Pro laptops. PCMag’s Brian Westover:

“The M2 chip is an improvement over the M1, but not as significant an uptick as the older M1 Pro and M1 Max options, and the M2 MacBook Air is coming shortly, offering what will likely amount to similar performance with the same processor, but a fully updated design.”

The other area is in battery life, with Apple reporting the MacBook Pro offers 20 hours of battery life, two more than the Air. Jacob Krol:

“Notably, our battery test beat the promised 20 hours of video playback that Apple was promising. In our testing, the 13-inch MacBook Pro lasted for 23 hours and 15 minutes with a 4K playback test. I also set the brightness to 50% and turned off connectivity during the playback. It’s quite impressive, and in day-to-day use, it’s tough to make the MacBook Pro die.”

While the M2 MacBook Pro looks to be a competent laptop, that is in isolation. Once you bring in the 14-inch MacBook Pro which has significantly more power, and the upcoming M2 MacBook Air which offers better value for money with the newer design, it’s hard to justify this MacBook. Brian Heater for TechCrunch:

” It’s effectively the last 13-inch MacBook wrapped around a better processor. It’s hard to get mad about that. It’s just that, in a line that contains the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the forthcoming 13-inch Air, it feels entirely unnecessary. That’s not a complaint you can levy that often against a company like Apple, which has traditionally gone to great pains to pare down its product lines. And while more choice is generally a good thing, for most consumers in most situations, it’s frankly not a tough decision.”

Apple will be releasing the M2 MacBook Air in a few weeks. There might be some gotchas in that package, but right now the recommendation that is shining through from all of the MacBook Pro reviews is to wait and see what else Apple has to offer, the MacBook Air looks to be a much better choice.

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