Apple updates MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, adds camera notch, forgets Face Unlock and kills touchbar

In the early hours of this morning, Apple held its second digital hardware event of the year, announcing a refreshed MacBook Pro, AirPods V3 and the HomePod Mini. If you missed the event live, you can watch it on-demand here.

The big star of the show is certainly the new MacBook Pro lineup, now available in a 14″ and 16″ version. As you’d expect with new models, they’re faster and have better battery life, but the story of how Apple achieved that this year is pretty interesting.

Apple is well into their custom-made silicon, with the M1 processor from their MacBook line, now getting a M1 Pro big brother and the big daddy of them all, the M1 Max. Offering up to 13x faster graphics performance, 3.7x faster CPU performance and 11x faster machine learning, you’d expect this thing to get about 2 hours of battery life. Instead, Apple has managed to squeeze ‘up to’ 21 hours of battery life.

With this extra performance, it’s clear that Apple wants those creative professionals who need performance on the go, to choose the MacBook Pro, rather than be tied to a desktop computer and yes that may mean it eats some Mac Pro sales.

If you really want to get crazy and money is no object (i.e. the boss is paying), then you should jump on the configurator and select all the options. You can max out a 16″ MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine, 64GB RAM and an insane 8TB of SSD storage.

That configuration costs a massive A$9,149.00. Let’s be real though, most people will use an external hard drive if they need extra storage and a couple TB external drive can be had for far less than the A$3,300 cost to upgrade from 1TB to 8TB internally.

Also new in this refresh is the introduction of a 1080p webcam (long overdue). To add this, Apple has added a camera notch to the top of the display, much like what we see on the phone. While many will hate this design, it does allow for that 120Hz Liquid Retina XDR display to have really thin bezels. Personally I don’t hate it, but I do hate that they haven’t included face unlock as part of it. On the Microsoft side, many laptops are including Windows Hello in their camera solutions.

Gone is the touchbar of customisable shortcuts and while some application developers spent the time to leverage this functionality, clearly it wasn’t being used and Apple have now killed it off.

Apple also made a big deal about returning ports to the device, which is fantastic to see, but they should never have been removed from a pro device in the first place. If you have a video, or photography pipeline, you’ll appreciate the SD card reader and those connecting multiple monitors now have access to Three Thunderbolt 4 ports and a HDMI port.

Overall the new Apple MacBook Pro lineup will likely sell very well for Apple, there are lots to like about this, as long as you can stomach the price, which starts at A$2,999.00 for the base 14″ model. It looks like they are keeping the 13″ model. Given you can now get a 14.2″ display in basically the same sized chassis, you’d be crazy to go for the 13″ anymore, unless you are price constrained as these start at A$1,899.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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