Forget The MacBook Pro, Apple Has A Better Choice

Updated December 20: Article originally posted December 17.

Traditionally, Apple has been restrictive with the hardware options it offers, especially in its MacBook range. Aside from memory and storage options, your choices about hardware elements like the screen, ports, and physical size have been Apple’s decisions you can’t help but accept.

That attitude is lessening as more MacBook models with Apple Silicon (both Air and Pro variants) fill some of the gaps — and Apple is about to take a major step next year, finally offering something that MacBook Air fans have been asking for for years.

A bigger screen.

Update: Tuesday, December 20. Larger screens have been the goal of the more powerful macOS laptops for years. If you wanted something bigger in your field of vision, you also needed something more powerful under your fingers. It remained that way when the Apple Silicon era began. After the 13-inch MacBook Air (and the inexplicably 13-inch MacBook Pro) came the larger 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops.

These came with the larger screens required, but they also came with more powerful chipsets in the form of the upgraded versions of the M1, namely the M1 Pro and M1 Max. They also came with the extra carrot of a new physical design with more ports and a more angular design to match the larger screens.

That pattern appears to be repeating itself. We’ve got the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air and now we’ve got details on the availability of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new models are slated for release in 2023 and might be great “my first power mac” buyers, but those already invested in the system won’t find anything other than a Moore’s Law that specifies in the chipset and memory boost: Joe Rossignol notes:

“No major changes are expected for the next 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, other than upgraded chip options and possibly faster RAM. The current 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M1 Pro and Released in October 2021, M1 Max chips featured an all-new design with a notch in the screen and the return of an HDMI port, MagSafe and an SD card reader. Macs often go years between redesigns, so a simple spec in 2023 makes sense.”

What these new laptops will offer is longer life. Even with Apple’s traditionally generous support window, the M1 Pro and M1 Max models will be nearly two years old when the M2 replacements arrive. Given the huge investment required to participate in the powerful end of the portfolio, that may influence your decision more than a slightly faster piece of RAM.

Details on this new, larger MacBook Air come from display analyst Ross Young and his regular look at the consumer electronics supply chain. That reports Chris Smith:

“…the large MacBook Air could be available in spring 2023 with a 15.5-inch screen. Interesting. According to Mr. Young, Apple would make the 13.6-inch M2 model the smaller of the two, as it has long offered 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air machines. However, the 11-inch model was discontinued quite some time ago, leaving only one option for Air enthusiasts.”

The screen size is curious. 15.5 inches on the diagonal doesn’t match any of the “professional” MacBook Pro models that measure 14.2 inches and 16.2 inches, respectively. What it does match is the display in the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro, powered by Intel’s x86 chips.

Apple may have the MacBook Pro when it launched the M1 Pro and M1 Max models in the 14- and 16-inch sizes with a more angular look, more ports, the return of sensible features like the MagSafe charging connector and a notched display for the camera and sensors.

The M2 MacBook Air also picked up on these design changes, although the M1 Air, which has been kept in the portfolio so Apple can continue to offer a $999 macOS laptop, hasn’t moved on from the old and tired Intel design.

I would expect a new MacBook Air to follow Apple’s new design language. Presumably the nerds who follow Apple would too. Still, the reported screen size matches the old, tired design. I have a terrible feeling that Apple will make another curious choice to create artificial separation between its laptops.

Yet there is already a distinction. And it has nothing to do with the size of the laptop or the design of the laptop. It’s a dichotomy between the laptops with enough power for everyday consumer use, and the ridiculously powerful laptops for professionals.

Before, if you wanted a bigger screen, you had to go for both a physically bigger machine with more performance. The idea of ​​just three Apple machines being good/better/best left very little room for something as dramatically clunky as “big screen but with only a reasonable amount of power.”

This new model for 2023 means that MacBook consumers who want a larger screen have a wise choice for a consumer-oriented laptop with a larger screen, rather than being resold to a larger laptop with an unwanted excess of power.

If you’re looking for a bigger screen for your MacBook, now’s the time to ignore the MacBook Pro; Apple has something better coming. At the beginning of 2023 you will receive a much more suitable model at a more customer-friendly price.

Now read the latest Mac, iPhone and App Store headlines in this week’s Apple Loop news roundup…

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