Does the MacBook Pro live up to expectations? iMore's take will help answer that

In late 2016, Microsoft and Apple seem to have swapped places. The Surface Studio and Surface Book with Performance Base continue to push the envelope in performance and design while Apple appears to be spinning its wheels. Ebbs and flows in technology and even within companies are expected. It happened to Microsoft, and it may be going on with Apple and their new MacBook Pro line right now.

For many people, the MacBook Pros set the bar for laptops. In fact, you could argue that everything Microsoft does in hardware is to outdo Apple regarding quality and design. It's not a coincidence that the Surface line is priced to match Apple's products. Even Microsoft's ads frequently call out Cupertino.

Our friends over at iMore have just reviewed all three of the new Pros including the 13" without Touch Bar, the 13" with Touch Bar, and the dream machine 15" with Touch Bar.

Unless you live under a rock, you likely know that Apple's announcement of these devices was met with mixed responses even from diehard Apple fans. That's what makes iMore's review interesting as our colleagues are knee deep in the Apple ecosystem.

If you're still saying "seriously?!", though, if you feel left behind, I totally get it. Apple's vision for the future of laptops won't be for everyone — even if they, and I, think it will be for more people than ever before. -

It's certainly hard to gloss over some of the decisions Apple recently made. The advantage of the MacBooks seems to be waning. That's an odd thing too as I have little doubt they are solid, well-crafted machines that demonstrate what MacOS is all about. Heck, I wrote a guide on installing Windows 10 on the 2015 MacBook Pro back before Surface Book even existed because they were so popular.

Rene makes some fair points here, but you can tell the days of gushing about Apple being the standard bearer of laptop mobility and power may be at the end. There's a lot of hedging going on in that review. That's a shame because it's only through competition do consumers get better technology. Things like Touch Bar, no touch display, no SD card slot, and even just average battery life are not the things that will push mobile computing forward.

Nonetheless, take a gander at Rene's and iMore's deep dive into the new MacBook Pros to know what you are – and are not – getting when you drop between $1500 and $3300 on one of these metal beasts.

If you need ammo to counter the argument to Apple's new laptop line, you can always read my Surface Book with Performance Base review, or peek at our 'best alternatives' to the MacBook Pro for some Windows 10-based solutions.

Personally, I'll be real curious to see how sales go for Apple with the new MacBook Pros. While they are good machines, it's hard to ignore what Microsoft and even HP, Dell, and Lenovo are pulling off these days. All I know is Windows PC manufacturers are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Will the MacBook Pro be such a failure as to win over Apple converts? It's a tall order as OS switching is never trivial, but there has never been a better time than now.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Apple are losing. Good times ahead!!!
  • That's a hating statement lol
  • That's a hating statement lol
  • That's a hating statement lol
  • That's a hating statement lol
  • I'd rather have more companies innovating. Market dominance by one player means comsumers pay more and get less. 
  • Msft gave the pressure, it's upto Apple to do something about it.
  • People have been saying "Apple are losing" since the 80's. But some day, SOME DAY, you'll be right! Just you wait! Any day now... any year now... any decade now...
  • Well, at one point in that timeframe you mention, that was absolutely true and Microsoft had to save them from going out of business... sooooo...
  • Will check it out, since it sounds like an interesting take.
  • And why was this posted in Windows Central?
  • Why not? This kind of thing happens between the three sites each time there's a big new release. I don't see this as anything different.
  • It's Babylon over there. All the sites are sleeping with each other.
  • Babylon...LOL
  • Totally agreed, if any user of WC had just a tiny interest, they would clic on iMore to read those (old tech) news! Now Daniel, this seems to much like clic bait!
  • Not sure if you are aware but there is more to life than just Windows Central. I actually rely on WC to point things like this out because I don't sit around reading iMore or pretty much any other site seeing if today will be the day there's an article worth reading. Appreciate it guys!
  • There is nothing wrong with seeing what the competition is doing. There are features that the MBP has that should come to Windows computers, and a lot more that Apple is behind on that they should adopt. There are some (not all, but some) on iMore who are willing to start a fair discussion when it is about Microsoft products. Serentiy's article on the Surface Studio is a good example. I will also say that there are a couple that are not so fair, and simply hate anything that does not have an Apple logo on it - they have a former Apple marketing directory that has no problem attacking anything and everything, then praising Apple when they do it. In otherwords, he is the typical Apple fanboy who will turn off comments on his articles. But for the most part, they are not too bad over there. This site has posted links to iMore in the past, and a couple times I criticized it. Not because it was here, but because iMore did not give the same consideration to the Wndows side. For example, WC put up a link a year ago to iMore's coverage of one of Apple's press events. Days later when MS had a press even iMore didn't do the same. If this site does not become an Apple site like some others have become (one site with win in the name has more news about Apple and Android these days than Microsoft, and they will not post news critical of Apple/Android because every time they do 1/2 their readers threaten to leave - it has become an Apple/Android fanboy website), an occasional "here is what is happening on the other side" article is OK. There is more out there than just Microsoft.
  • #donglelife
  • What are you on about?
  • I bet most people don't care about ports anymore. Their primary device is likely a phone that has one port mainly used for charging. 
  • Wireless charging baby!
  • Apple hasn't brought something new to the market in years... That's not what they are going for. They are going for the people that aren't interested.
  • "Apple hasn't brought something new to the market in years... That's not what they are going for. They are going for the people that aren't interested"... They are going for the people that aren't interested in paying Apple anymore for nothing!
  •     I'm just curious what more can it bring to a laptop?  There's only so much space. Everyone uses the same intel processor which limits battery. Unless they make their own graphics card (which I highly doubt they will) you can't improve on graphics. Touch on laptops suck and outside of taking notes in OneNote there isn't much need for a 13" detachable tablet.  I thInk the second release will be better and MS and others will be scrambling to use the Function Bar in other ways in the future.  
  • I guess you are an Apple user? I know touch isn't conceivable to you, but the rest of us enjoy being able to use our devices in more ways than one. MS experimented with a touch bar several years ago, but the OS being adaptable based on what the user wants is better.
  • When i'm fixing someone else's laptop, you wouldn't believe how often I go to click the screen with my finger nowadays. You think touch on laptops sucks until you have one with it. It's great cause you don't have to choose mouse or touchscreen. I go back and forth repeatedly. Yes, it'd suck if you were using a laptop and only had a touch screen. But that's not nor has it ever been the goal. It augments the experience.
  • But some reports say it selling more than any other previous macbook and even the surface book, lenovo etc. put together through online retailers. Can't believe this sells more over surface pro or book. A lot of rumors about the iPhone 8 are also emerging and sadly I do not see apple losing if they are true. There are still enough isheeps out there & so many people who wished to own and iPhone but could not afford one are buying the older models. Why can't MS make the Surface Phone (or whatever they call it) a priority. As a matter of fact now there is news that it will come no sooner than 2018 with Redstone 4 :-(
  • Keep in mind that there's a lot of OEMS when it comes to Desktops, laptops and 2-in-1's that run Windows 10. Now there's AppleOs that can run on... the Macbook Pro and the Macbook? so ofcourse they sell in bigger volumes. It's not as if the Apple users have much choice if they heavily invested in the ecosystem. So, still thumbs up for Microsoft when it comes to that.
  • That's the core of msft, to provide the best to everyone regardless of the medium.
  • Love my Surface Book, but still prefer Mac OS and also iOS for stability.
  • Apple, the most cash-rich company in the world, hasn't done anything remarkably innovative since the original iPhone in 2007. It's quite mind-boggling.
  • I would increase that and say the iPod is still Apple's most innovative piece of technology to date.
  • No, coip is right -- the iPhone was breakthrough as the first real use of a capacitive multitouch screen and an OS that could use it. Before that, such technology (never mind effective software UI to use it) was basically unknown not just to the consumer world, but even for businesses working in touch-based technology, combining multitouch and glass was a technology feat considered mostly out-of-reach. There were some approaches using acoustics and dual-touch capacitive, and Microsoft had the Surface table which used cameras to handle multitouch in a $10k device, but Apple brought true multitouch to the mainstream in handheld device. For that, they deserve tremendous credit. The iPod before that used first a mechanical wheel (nice interface) to scroll, then a single-touch ring like a laptop touchpad. The iPod Touch was the first iPod to have that iPhone UI, but it followed the iPhone.
  • I would say they made tablets work in 2010. Android is piss poor and Windows is awesome.
  • If that's what you think then I doubt you've read about anything Apple since 2007.
  • Having read that review I think "there's a lot of hedging going on" needs to be qualified with "for a Rene review" because it's still quite apologetic. Other outlets have given more balanced reviews.
  • Nice hardware but crappy software. Install Windows 10 on it and than you'll be rocking!
  • Most MacBook owners in my country have Windows installed on their machines. Shame they just bought MacBook thinking to increase their social status.
  • Instead of a relatively fluffy advertisement for the iMore perspective, I'd like to see WindowsCentral go into more depth as to why the MacBook (or whatever is next) absolutely does not live up to expectations or hype. Don't be afraid to point/counter-point against your sister site(s) on this. This is WindowsCentral. Go ahead and beat that Microsoft drum and take the gushing Apple rhetoric head on. 
  • THB I would love to see a 'face off' between Daniel and Rene, where both highlight the OS'es when it comes to productivity. Both looking at it from an expert view, so people won't say its a biased review since its from Windows Central. Also have Zac appear as comedy relief. If you read his tweets you'll understand. Can't beat British humor/sarcasm. But I think it just ends up a bloodbath if they did a face off.
  • One would say that Apple was a company that got to the top for being innovative. But that rhetoric is false. They always cared more for the aesthetic side or their product, the design (and the hollow kind, mind you, not the kind concerned with useability) and mainly selling an aura of status than the technology inside.
    And at this point this became very obvious with the iPhone line and these dated, niche laptops only fans could buy, and which are the only thing these diehard fans could buy. I can't read the review, it's going to make me cringe at the fanboyism and to be frank I don't really care. I'd rather find reviews about new and interesting products that are made for everybody (ie, with Windows 10).
  • I'm a fan of msft and I say this... Apple was innovative because of Steve. He had brought his ideas to life on every product that came before his unfortunate death, he put the pressure on ppl for a reason, to make designs that are worth the Design. If he was alive today, things would've been totally different. We might as well had true Surface competing devices.
  • @raytiger, I fully agree and well said. Today, with Jobs at the helm, Microsoft is leading in innovation. It seems unlikely he would have allowed Apple to sit by and watch like this. Steve Jobs had an amazing ability to see new combinations of hardware and software and business models that the rest of the world either didn't see as quickly or maybe never would have without his leadership. Given Apple's lack of anything similar since his passing, it appears that was a singular talent. If Panos Panay is the guy at MS doing this now, he deserves even more respect, but even from Microsoft, I've not seen the same whole-product plus business model synthesis that Jobs pulled together (the iPod was a success not just because of the new wheel-based UI or the 1.8" hard disk or the $.99/song business model, or the iTunes PC companion software, but because of the synthesis of all of them. The iPhone was not just successful as the first multitouch phone or for pairing two common devices people carried -- MP3 player and phone -- or for providing a simple intuitive consumer-focused mobile OS or for throwing in a GPS and mapping software (at the time, that was a What!?) or for the breakthrough "phone" sales model with AT&T, but because of the full combination of all of these new functions in a single product. Microsoft is now nailing the product part with the Surface line (MS deserves the crown lately for the best and most innovative products). With UWP and the Xamarin purchase and trying to build an ecosystem including by users of competing devices, they may be putting together the pieces on the business model side, but they are still slow and lack the crisp and obvious cohesion between all of the moving pieces that Steve Jobs used in leading Apple to own these new hybrid product categories it created.
  • Absolutely! Agree with you on every word of yours. Steve Jobs' presence in the industry is still irreplaceable, I don't like what Tim's Cooking but msft truly is winning the competition with Panos' recipe ;)
  • oops, should have said, "Today, WITHOUT Jobs at the helm..."
  • Anyone would've got that one right.
  • I think one important thing to take away from the new MacBook Pros is battery life. Apple and their fans have always used that battery life as the gold standard, looking down upon devices that get less battery. Apple fans immediately reject any device manufacturer that claims to get better battery life than an Apple product. But over at Engadget, not exactly an unbiased site, states that the Surface Book with Performance Base gets nearly twice the battery life that the MBP gets, 16+ hours to 8+ hours. Yes, the SB uses the lower powered CPU, but when that battery life number was all that mattered, and the MBP is getting half the life, then you know that Apple is falling behind, again.
  • Where in the world is "Apple dominace" ??? Not on phones (18℅), not on pc (1℅?) not on notebook (10℅?). Maybe in the smartest country of the world, the one who voted for Trump, market share is different, but it s your own problem :)
  • Apple is number one in profits and profit margin
  • Apple being number one in pofits and profit margin doesn't benefit you, me and the fan boys but they claim it as their own. im just glad to see MS is bringing out beautiful products and is pushing other OEMs innovate and/or step up. 
  • I love when apple fans throw the profit numbers at their non-apple peers, as if apple users had any share in the money apple sits on.
  • So sick of the slanderous anti Trump comments, he won the democratic election. You sir need to get the fk over it and move on all ready.
    the people have spoken and clearly many many people support him making your view the slandering and *itching of the losing anti social minority.
  • It upsets me that you probably participated in the election and you don't even know what kind of government the United States has, nor do you know that the majority of voters lost the election. Plus, it's libelous if its in print. Slander involves oral communication. Ugh. So much wrong with your post that it's almost as if someone made it ironically. It's like someone wanted to emphasize idiocy as the central principle behind Trump's win.
  • After I seen this. Leo recommending MS What Is the Best Computer for Artists? - YouTube
  • Replace and improve rather than removing stuffs.
  • I know to its fans, Apple's product strategy was clearly laid out by Cook and perfectly explains why the Macbook Pro is going the direction it is - it's part of their grand plan to phase out Mac OS in favor of iOS and the iPad in order to go fully mobile and wireless. It's a commendable vision of a mobile future and the touch bar is the first step toward easing power users out of Macbooks and into iPad Pros.
    I also get that means Apple's future will also be Touch and they're just waiting for iOS to mature to a point where this mobile vision would replace traditional aging OSes. Perhaps people are misinterpreting the touch bar and aren't seeing it for what it really signifies - that finally the slow march has begun and Apple is nearing the point in its internal development and refining its overarching vision where iOS is ready to dethrone the Mac.
    What I don't get is how this strategy to replace Mac OS with iOS and Macbook Pros with iPads/Pros makes sense. I don't see how people would be willing to pay $1500 - $3300 for an iPad/Pro or any mobile tablet when they've been conditioned for the past 6 years to expect these devices to retail for around $500 - $1000 and I certainly don't see Apple willing to risk devaluing their image as an exclusive premium brand by exclusively purveying devices in that latter attainable price range. Either Cook & co. are cooking something truly revolutionary and innovative up their sleeves or their mobile vision will be dead in the water.
  • Apple make way more money out of the iPad & I agree they are trying to move people there, but there's still plenty of people who want laptops. But their use of "Pro" for both their iPad and now their Macbook is misleading, these are not aimed at professionals anymore. They are just Apple's higher end devices. Considering the state of the laptop market Apple have decided there's no point fighting for 2% of a shrinking market and instead are aiming their laptops at the general populace. This is just a powerful Macbook Air, it's not a Pro device, but while they may have upset their current market the new machines are going to appeal to casual users who want a Mac (for whatever misguided reason). So despite this being a disappointing release and the touch bar being a bit of a gimmick I actually think these Macs will sell better than any before them.