As this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference draws near, Apple is expected to unveil not only the next generation of Apple silicon in the M3 family, but also new hardware to show off the latest chipset. This will likely be the MacBook Air, in the traditional 13-inch size, but maybe a 15-inch model. The former is welcomed by many and the latter has been an unattainable desire for many years.
But leaks this week suggest Apple has another laptop to launch the M3 silicon… a MacBook model that has proven cumbersome, out of place and redundant since its arrival in 2020.
Why is Apple moving forward with the 13-inch MacBook Pro?
It’s worth looking back at the history of this 13-inch MacBook Pro.
When Tim Cook and his team debuted Apple Silicon, they presented the chipset in three new consumer-oriented machines; the MacBook Air, the Mac Mini and the MacBook Pro. Aside from the architectural change – something that connoisseurs would recognize as “a pretty big deal” – there have been no real changes in the appearance, design, or pricing of any machine in the portfolio. Essentially, Apple did everything it could to show that nothing would change for users.
The MacMini became a solid choice for a desktop computer. The MacBook Air has seen massive changes in battery life and performance, as has the MacBook Pro. The rise of the Air from the mobile-focused Intel chips to Apple Silicon has boosted the Air to the Intel-based MacBook Pros launched in previous years and beyond. The MacBook Pro also saw the performance leap… but the MacBook Air’s increase meant that for the vast majority of users, the Air offered more power and performance than they would ever need.
As a PR tool, the MacBook Pro M1 was useful. As a viable laptop, it’s already been eclipsed by the utility of the MacBook Air at a lower price.
Then came the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops. The M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets were built on top of the M1, offering even more power and performance. They also had the first MacBook design changes in many years, with larger screens, a more angular design, longer battery life, and improved thermal controls. If you’re looking for a MacBook that has a surplus of performance and is aimed at developers and high-performance creatives, then this is what you’re looking for.
A MacBook for consumers, with enough power for media and lightweight development? That’s the MacBook Air. As far as the 13-inch MacBook Pro goes, it’s more expensive than the MacBook Air, with only a small performance gain and not enough “performance per dollar” to turn anyone away from the larger MacBook Pro laptops .
Apple has managed to take its best consumer laptop and its best professional laptop to near-workstation levels. caught in between? The MacBook Pro 13 inch.
Last year Apple introduced the M2 chipset at WWDC 2022. Overall, this offered a performance increase of twenty percent. Alongside the introduction of the MacBook Air M2 was the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which still seemed out of place due to the performance of the MacBook Air M2 and the continued dominance of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The latter were updated in January of this year, creating an even wider gap between consumer and professional laptops.
And now the latest leaks suggest that alongside the unveiling of the M3 Apple Silicon platform, Apple will continue to push the smaller and increasingly marginalized MacBook Pro alongside the all-conquering ubiquitous MacBook Air.
It allows Apple to feature a different MacBook at every step of the price portfolio, although that’s much more a factor of perception than practicality. Maybe Apple wants to launch an Air and a Pro together without the Pro performing too far ahead of the MacBook Air? It’s all about presentation again. On the buyers’ side, they may want the appeal of a “Pro” laptop without spending the cash required for a full-featured MacBook Pro.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a vanity laptop. There’s no doubt that it can get the job done, but there are far better options in Apple’s portfolio.
Read the latest Mac, iPhone and Apple Watch headlines now in the weekly Forbes News Digest, Apple Loop…