In this video I’m re-reviewing the iPhone 13 Series — mini, no modifier, pro, and pro max — all of them, everything I’ve been testing since just after Apple announced them almost 3 months ago. And I’m going to tell you what I’ve come to ALL-CAPS LOVE most… and a more than a few things I kinda low-key hate.
And MacBook Pro re-review is coming up next, so Falcon punch that subscribe button, and let’s go!
Love 1: Battery Life
Battery life on all these iPhones 13 is.. sick. Just ridiculous. Obscene. Borderline offensive. Even the iPhone 13 mini, which in the previous generation was a daily driver simply because it could not, would not last into the night, can now pretty much go until the evening without a redline, that is, if you really are only using it as a tiny, actual phone phone. You know, you work all day on your main Mac, so the last thing you want to do is keeping working on your phone. It’s just for messaging and keeping you connected on the go.
And then there’s the iPhone 13 Pro Max… well, that’s not just an all-day and all-nighter any more, it’s damn close to a weekender. A binger. Just rack up Hawkeye or the Book or Boba and let it play through the day. Of course, sure, if it’s your primary computing device, if you’re doing a ton of camera work, or playing a bunch of heavy games, you can still kill it in a few hours. Screen super bright, all the radios screaming, GPU on fire, that sort of thing. But for daily, mixed use… you now legit get a couple of days.
And for the regular 13 and the 13 Pro, they’re in between both those extremes. The 13 for those who want something a little bigger and longer lasting than the mini,, and 13 Pro for those who want something a little smaller but still just as capable, if not quite as monstrously long lasting as the Pro Max.
And all of that is thanks to bigger battery, sure, but also a colder, more efficient A15 chipset and, on the Pro models, an adaptive display that doesn’t just ramp up to 120Hz but all the way down to 10Hz. Which is like going from chugging pints to… barely sipping espresso.
So, with the iPhone 13, you really do get the fastest ultra-mobile chip on the planet, with enough overhead for half-a-decade or so of software updates, and the first, proper, no compromises on brightness or color management or anything, high refresh rate display, plus the best battery life in the business, what’s not to love? Well…
Hate 1: No Fast I/O
Apple went an added ProRes 422 HQ video to the iPhone 13 Pro. That’s their professional, high-quality video codec, the one used by ARRI and BlackMagic, the one that can record up to 4K30 at… get this… 6GB per minute. No, that’s not a verbal typo. 6GB per minute. Meaning a 3 minute ProRes clip will killing word like 18GB of storage. And I’ve got a whole entire video up already breaking down just exactly how it ProRes works and why and when you’d want to use it, and I’ll drop a link to it in the description below the like button.
Suffice it to say, it’s a staggering amount of data, which Apple addressed just fine at the write stage with A15’s new… fast… like speed-force fast storage controller and SSD system. So you can get those massive ProRes files recorded to your phone without dropping so much as frame.
But getting them off again… not so much. Now, I’m not even going to get into a debate about USB-C vs. Lightning. Nerds clearly want the standardization of USB-C, and the mainstream… well, if you try to change their cables again, they will cut you. Me, personally, I’ve already said I want Thunderbolt, no matter how ludicrous the idea of stuffing those controllers into something as space constrained as an iPhone might actually be. But, end of the day, USB-C and Lightning are just physical plug shapes. That’s what all the USB A, B, C letters define. The physical plug shape. That’s it. And that can be dongled for days. But the numbers, like 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, 3.1… The numbers which define the speed. And shape is nowhere nearly as important as the speed is here.
USB-C can handle Thunderbolt-like USB-4 speeds of up to 40Gb/s anyway, like on the iPad Pro. But even just USB 3.1 Gen 1, speeds, 5 Gb/s, like the iPad Air would be a welcome relief at this point. Because the current Lightning protocol, with very few exceptions, is capped at USB 2, or just under half a Gb/s. Let me repeat that. Half a gigabit per second. Which is like trying to empty a river with an eyedropper. And if Apple can manage ProRes 4K60 next year, or Dolby Vision 8K60, it’s only going to get worse. For real, because for everyone, including Apple and Pros, these devices are way more cameras than phones now anyway.
Apple is rumored to be working on an ultra-fast wireless transfer protocol for a future, portless iPhone, maybe as soon as the next version. Which is fine. Terrific. But, like Battlestar Galactica and the Matrix, Pros typically prefer the reliability of hardlines. Whether that’s USB-C or Lightning 2, again I don’t care. I can deal with the plugs. But there’s nothing any of us can do about the lack of speed. Which is why, if Apple could get Pro Res-capable media engines and storage controllers built into the iPhone 13, it’s beyond frustrating they couldn’t get just as capable an I/O controller built in to support the feature as well.
Love 2: Camera
The camera system on the iPhone 13 series is really well rounded and just overall really well done. Obviously, the Pro models have more features than the regular models, but all of them have terrific wide angle cameras, now with in-body image stabilization, or IBIS across the line, and even better ultra-wide angles as well.
I do have a few issues with them. You still can’t toggle HDR video in the Camera app the way you can Live Photos, resolution and frame rate, and you still can’t choose to AirDrop the SDR version rather than the HDR version, again the way you can Live Photos and metadata. Which has caused just a ton of problems for a ton of people, especially given the ongoing lack of maturity in a lot of HDR workflows. And the 3x jump on the Pro telephoto camera can be… really aggressive, requiring a lot of sneaker-de-zoom to properly frame. I really do think it’s time for Apple to start looking at bigger sensors, pixel binning, and even periscope zooms to truly fill on the last, long gaps in camera capabilities here.
Other than that, though, it’s a dream. Especially the new Macro Mode on the Pro models. I just keep wanting to Macro everything.
I’ve been using a Pixel 6 Pro for the last few weeks as well, just for fun, and Google’s ability to reduce every photo down to it’s bits and rebuild them as a really good Pixel-style photo is legit terrific. But they all end up looking like they came out of the Pixel factory with that Pixel look, cool and sharply reassembled.
Where Apple kind of lets the iPhone camera still be a camera. It’s not the big glass of a Samsung or the big compute of a Google, but a really good balance of both. And because of that A15 image signal processor and how fast it can round-trip through all the compute engines, from GPU to neural engines to ISP and back again, it still feels the most like a camera to me. The most instant shutter, most real time, most what I see is what I get. Not like the computer is spitting out an image for me, but the computer is helping me get the image in front of me.
I didn’t stick with a Photographic Style. I dig that Apple’s experimenting with the equivalent of digital film, and also giving people who like more opinionated processing, something more Pixel or Galaxy like, the option of setting it or forgetting it, but I’m still team hashtag no filter, and I enjoy boosting sat and crushing black my own damn self.
Cinematic Mode I think is super interesting but also just a beginning. I think Apple’s desire to make it available across all iPhone 13 models kept it from taking advantage of Pro-specific hardware features, like LiDAR, which means just like early version of Portrait Mode photos, it needs a lot of light to really be its best. But like early versions of Portrait Mode, you can just tell that in a year or several from now, it’s going to be way, way more flexible and useful. Especially the core technologies of changing bokeh and focal point in post. And especially especially when the world has fully stopped ending and I’m out and about more so I can cinematic all the things beyond this studio.
Overall, Apple’s done a great job with iPhone durability. Combined with those years and years of not just security but full on software updates, from resale to trade-in to hand-me-down to just plain keeper, it just makes the value so much more than the cost, even on the higher priced models. That’s especially true with the new flat sides, which combined with the ceramic shield material on the front, and the enhanced ion-exchange glass on the back, makes the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series more resilient to breaks and cracks than ever.
Which is legit fantastic, given they’re still so damn slippery they can fall off any even slightly non-level surface faster than just about anything. That anything being the Pixel 6 Pro, by the way, which can fall of an even level surface almost as fast as the lubed bullet that was the Nexus 4. Yeah, I said it.
And I totally get that hardness and strength aren’t the same thing. Just ask a diamond and a hammer. For crack resistance, you want a certain amount of flexibility to absorb impact, which is the exact opposite of what you want when Zak jerry-rig goes medieval with is Moh’s scale. And yes, you can put on a high topped case and a screen protector if you really want to keep your iPhone just beyond pristine. And of course, if given a choice, preventing breaks is better than preventing scratches because broken displays are way more problematic and harder to live with than scratched displays.
But all that said, all that granted, all that conceded, it’s still just too damn easy to scratch an iPhone display. Where the Apple Watch sapphire crystal displays manage to be both break and scratch resistant. Albeit for a hefty increase in price. Something Apple previously just couldn’t make work at iPhone display size and scale.
So, I don’t know what the answer is here, but if the material magicians at Apple could figure out some way to make the glass backs of the iPhone way less slippery, maybe that’d reduce the amount of drops enough to rebalance the break vs. scratch materials equation. Because while it’s way easier to live with a scratched or screen protector shellacked iPhone display, having t do either still sucks.
So, which iPhone 13 should you get? Well, after using them all in rotation and thinking about it a lot for the last 3 months, here’s where I’ve landed:
Get the iPhone 13 Pro. The combination of battery life and camera system for its size is simply remarkable. I’d recommend the 13 Pro as anyone’s default, anyone’s starting position.
If the iPhone 13 Pro is just too much money for you, even with trade-ins or upgrade plans or over however many years you typically keep your phone, then get the iPhone 13. You lose the adaptive refresh display, the telephoto camera, macro mode, LiDAR, and a few other bells and whistles, but you still get a ton of iPhone for a little less cash.
If you really only want to use your phone as a phone, you want it to fit in your change-pocket or clutch, and being productive when you’re away from your Mac or iPad is the last thing you want, get the iPhone 13 mini. Hell, if you love you some small phone, there probably won’t be an iPhone 14 mini, so grab the 13 mini and hold on long as you can!
But if you do want all those Pro bells and whistles, the biggest display possible, and the longer battery life currently available, like the iPhone is your primary computing platform or just your on-the-go everything, than get the iPhone 13 Pro Max. And if you intend to shoot a lot of HDR video, especially ProRes, seriously consider the 1 terabyte model. Because, damn.
Apple’s working on a new Pro-level iMac that’s bigger, more powerful, and maybe more expensive. Like the 24-inch M1 iMac having a love baby with the 32-inch Pro Display XDR. Here are all the latest leaks, rumors, and reports, and my analysis and reaction to them!
Mark Facebook thinks augmented and virtual reality are so critical to humanity’s next stage of collective… digi-evolution that he just changed his name to Mark Meta, dialed his emotion chip all the way up to… 2, and went very publicly Wreck ‘Em Ralphing through a range of absolutely uncanny experiences… from gaming to gathering to meetings to… well, thankfully not matings. But you get the idea. After having missed out on owning mobile, and consequently having his apps subject to the privacy policies of iOS and the constant intermediation of Android, he simply doesn’t want anyone, any… thing, coming between his Oculus-fronted Horizon harvesters and our data… all of our data.
But, according to Morgan Stanley, Tim Apple’s own VR & AR projects are getting ready for liftoff, and they’re likely to leapfrog what every other company, including Meta has in mind.
Now, I think Morgan Stanley’s has gotten a quad major part of this story just completely wrong here, but I’ll get to that in a second. Because the instant Facebook bought Oculus, my first thought was — well, Facebook in my browser, I can kill the tab any time. Facebook on my phone, I can kill the app. They’re only ever one quick click or flick from out of our lives. But Facebook on my literal face… a Face-hugger-book, so to speak… well, that’s not so easy to kill. Likewise, App Tracking Transparency, Privacy Labels and Reports, Private Relay, everything I spoke about in my last video, everything that can prevent Facebook from creeping on me through my Apple products. Because Oculus is a Facebook product, and you better believe they’re not offering us any of that. No, owning the platform means they own everything. Including everything we do on the platform. No matter how personal, how private. It’s data harvesting… god mode. That’s why Meta, nee Facebook, is seemingly willing to give the headsets away for close to cost. They’re not the product, as the saying goes.
Just get Quest II and future hardware into as many hands and onto as many heads as possible, as cheaply and quickly as possible, and then backfill all the software and services on top of it. Like… I think someone called it AOL in 3D… Ask your parents. Anyway, that way, all the connections we make feed their social graph, all the actions we take train their behavioral profiles, all the things we buy get tracked and taxed by their marketplace, and all the things we see get overlayed with their ads. Oh, hey, look, honey, hanging over our kids school, paper towels are 50% off... with proof of conspiracy theory! Woohoo! Sorry. Kinda.
All so that they can own that next evolution of the internet — what Facebook is calling the Metaverse. Which, swear to Jobs,
Sounds like revenge branding from the cringe marketer who failed to make Cyberspace at all popular… like three years after going online stopped being even remotely nerd chic.
Now, Apple’s plan… Apple’s plan is almost the exact opposite of Facebook’s. No new company names, no CEO in Wonderland videos, and absolutely no VR or AR headsets or glasses, not yet. It’s been more of a slow software and frameworks burn. Because Apple can get all of that out and test driven by those billion plus iPhones in our pockets and iPads in our backpacks, y’all.
That is, if Apple doesn’t totally screw the landing, the way they did last time, but I’ll get to that in a second.
Because they already have ARKit, their beyond solid augmented reality framework, and more recently, Object Capture, which lets you easily scan IRL objects into virtual ones, and share their USDZ files as easily as… animated JIF GIFs. Those are the obvious bits. The critical components for getting everyone from developers to creators on board… hell, pre-boarded.
But Apple isn’t just priming the power users, they’re boiling the mainstream as well.
Making an avatar for VR or AR may seem weird or awkward, unless you’ve already spent the last 5 years playing with increasingly sophisticated Memoji, and are well past being perfectly comfortable with your own digital self.
Having the world around you constantly ingested and understood by computer vision might seem disorienting even off-putting, if you hadn’t had LiDAR on your iPad or iPhone, or played with any of Apple’s event or product demos.
Watching a TV Show or movie or sporting event or concert in a virtual theater might feel lonely or isolated, if you hadn’t already tried it out through SharePlay with your friends and family. Except, instead of being PiP’ed onto each-other’s screens, you’re sitting next to each other in the virtual theater, in all your memoji glory. Snacking on real popcorn though, because the virtual kernels taste like ozone. Just trust me on that.
And instead of FaceTime Group Calls in Brady Bunch Boxes, sorry, Insta Grids, we’re all Memoji’d around virtual tables or picnic blankets or whatever, with spatial audio making it sound like we’re exactly where we look like we are.
Even Live Text and object recognition, and yeah, I’m just running the board on the last couple of year’s of WWDC announcements now, but even Live text and object recognition are all about bringing really real reality into the virtual and augmented one, the computational one, where we can act on them, riff on them even.
And the list just goes on and on and on.
But here’s where I think Morgan Stanley got it wrong — VR and AR aren’t a product, and certainly not a singular one. They’re a human interface, like screens, and they’ll exist across a range of products, like screens do across Macs, and iPhones, and Apple Watches. There’ll be overlap, for sure, but the VR headset is going to start off as a… next generation of Apple TV, all about experience and immersion, where the AR Glasses are going start off like a next generation Apple Watch and AirPods, all about enhancement and convenience.
The VR headset comes first, just like the Apple TV came first, because the tech is just much closer to a solved problem than the AR glasses. And it’ll be expensive at first. Especially if rumors of ultra-high-density, 8K displays, and M2 Pro Max class chipsets pan out, with all the scanners and sensors imaginable baked in, if any of those rumors are true. $2K, $3K, whatever.
It’s an early adopter play. Something for people who’d much rather pay MacBook Pro-level prices for a bleeding edge personal display than a couple hundred bucks and change for a shared living room box. But like every Apple product, the early and premium versions help pay down the technology so Apple can push it down to the more popular and mainstream versions.
But here’s the key — it’ll also let Apple move all the existing services, everything they’ve gotten primed and ready from the Apple TV to the… Apple Vision headset or whatever they end up calling it. Not just TV+ shows, but Fitness+ with SharePlay for group workouts. Apple Music concerts. Apple Arcade arena games, and everything from every entertainment, and education, and health and fitness, and game developer and studio on the iOS App Store who wants to be part of the rOS App Store.
Which, yes, Apple can’t afford to screw up the way they did the tvOS App Store, with the absolutely stupefying last-minute mandate that everyone had to use the Siri remote and On-Demand Resources, causing every major studio to hit the breaks on their iPhone-good-will fueled plans from the platform and just wait and see… the wait causing there to be nothing to see. It’s an own-goal the Apple TV still hasn’t recovered from, and if you want to see a video on that debacle, just let me know in the comments.
Either way, any way, hopefully, just all the lessons learned by now. Because Facebook is going for the commodity hardware play, has network effect on their side, every big blue, Insta, WhatsApp, and Messenger user in their pockets, and will likely be paying through Mark’s positronic nose for content and creator deals. They’re going to go all out. Microsoft too, because they had mobile and lost it. And Google who no doubt wants to keep the position they have with Android every bit as much as Apple wants to keep the one they have with iOS. Maybe even Amazon, because we all know they love their… interestingly shaped hardware.
But the truth is, Metaverse, like Web 3.0, is in its very nascent, most molten of tech nerd and grifter-fueled states right now, and it’s probably not going to end up being anything like what the hustlers and dreamers want to sell us all now. Just like the iPhone and Android made the internet mobile, and that created the opportunity for everything from WeChat to Uber to TikTok to Pokémon Go to VoiceOver, this all will simply make the internet virtual, and that’ll create the opportunity for everything that comes next.
Apple’s working on a new MacBook Air that’s thinner, lighter, faster, way more colorful, but also maybe more expensive. Like the 12-inch MacBook having a love baby with the OG iBook.
According to a plethora of recent reports, Apple is getting ready to ditch the wedge-shaped MacBook Air that launched a 1000 ultrabook imitators, and go with something even slimmer, sleeker, and flatter. An M2 MacBook Air. Maybe as soon as March or June of 2022.
Why didn’t they do that with the M1? Because it takes Apple a couple years to develop and ship a new industrial design, and the Mac team was busy with the new 24-inch iMac and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, so they decided to stick with the existing enclosures for the first wave of M1 Macs, including the M1 MacBook Air. And that existing exclosure was all about containing a super hot, super hungry, super anemic, Intel Y-series processor. And fan. Yeah.
Which is hella ironic, given Apple went to Intel in the first place in order to make Macs like the Air, something that was just Ralph Wiggum level unpossible with the old PowerPC chips. But Apple was still left working around display limitations, performance limitations, design limitations, for years. Because, plot twist, making the dream MacBook Air with Intel inside was still pretty unpossible. As evident by the power and battery life boost we all got late last year based only on the M1 transplant.
So, enter M2, Apple’s second generation silicon for the Mac. Now, I’ve already done a whole entire dedicated video on M2 and M3, and I’ll drop a link for that in the description below the like button. But, long story… slightly less long, we should be looking at even better performance and efficiency. That is, if Apple sticks to pattern, which they always do just exactly until they don’t. But the worst case scenario is A15-generation silicon — 4 new Blizzard efficiency cores, which are way more powerful. 4 new Avalanche performance cores, which are quite a bit more efficient. And a whopping 9 to 10 new G14 graphics cores, which will just blow the thermal envelopes off the place.
And in a completely different way than what I expect we’ll see in the next iMac Pro, so you’ll want to hit subscribe so you don’t miss that video next.
But yes, that’s along with next generation neural engines, imagine signal processors, the whole shebang. And who knows what other features Apple will slip into that chip to even further optimize them for ultra low power Macs. But the bottom line is, M2 should be even faster than M1, especially at those everyday tasks, and should be able to sustain that performance longer, at least on the CPU-side, even a smaller chassis. A smaller, more colorful chassis. And, yeah, one that doesn’t require having to cram Intel inside.
More on the silicon in a minute, but the whole “smaller” part is something Apple’s been going back and forth on for a decade now. There was the 11-inch MacBook Air from 2010 to 2017, and the 12-inch MacBook not-Air, just… nothing… from 2015 to 2019. RIP.
The problem with the 11-inch Air was that Apple just couldn’t keep the Intel inside it, not with the demands of modern amenities like Retina displays. The problem with the 12-inch nothing was that Apple couldn’t get the price down, not to that $999 sweet spot that made the Air so popular.
That’s what prompted the 2018 MacBook Air, which, sure, the 2018 iPad Pro still laughed at, like Mark Hamill joker laughed at, but which also ended up being the target for the 2020 mother-of-all M1 upgrades.
But that was the silicon jab to set up the redesign upper cut for 2022, the one that’ll ditch the wedge for Apple’s current, flatter, more retro-future chic design language, but for the Air specifically, even a little more retro. Just like the new MacBook Pro design has a real… PowerBook vibe, the new MacBook Air design is rumored to be getting positively… iBook jiggy with it.
Which should, yes, mean the return of colors, according to Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech, maybe even the full taste-the-rainbow of the 24-inch iMac. Something we haven’t seen with Apple laptops since the iBook. But also, white bezels, something we just saw with that iMac. And if that isn’t enough to infuriate every commentor on the net, a notch as well. A notch, according to Ty98, but still no Face ID, according to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg.
White because iBook nostalgia and differentiated, and according to Apple on the iMac, it better fades away into home and school environments. Notch because it’ll let them Thanos-snap most of the top bezel away, and fit a 13-inch display in a 12-inch chassis. And no Face ID because the infra-red camera, flood illuminator, and dot projector still don’t all fit into lids this thin. But everyone really wants them to, so fingers crossed that changes ASAP.
The biggest question I have is will the RGB camera be the glorious 1080p we just got with the M1 iMac and M1 Pro Max MacBook Pros, or ye old 720p-as-in-potato cam of old?
The display is reportedly going to be mini-LED, according to Kuo Ming-Chi of TF International, like the latest iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, which should mean Apple’s outstanding 10-bit pipeline spatially and temporally dithered to an 8-bit panel. Whether it has as many local dimming zones as the MacBook Pro, we’ll have to wait and see, but either way, anyway, it should make for the first HDR, high dynamic range, MacBook Air.
Doesn’t sound like it’ll be getting the up to 120Hz adaptive refresh rate of the new Pro, though, not according to DylanKT on Twitter. And, while that means no battery savings on the 24Hz end, it also means less of a price hike, Which we’ll get to in a second as well.
And yeah, I’d love, all-caps love, a 15-inch MacBook Air as well, because some people want or need a bigger screen, but don’t want or need to pay a Pro premium to get it. Sounds like Apple has that on the back burner still, but if Tim Cook’s pivot tables can figure out a big screen iPhone 14 non-Pro Max, maybe we can hold to hope for a big screen non-Pro MacBook as well?
MagSafe is coming back, pretty much according to everybody, and hopefully in addition to the current double USB-C / Thunderbolt ports. Because going back to one port like the 12-inch MacBook would just… suck. Like, I get the beautiful dream of a fully wireless machine, or the iPad-like singularity of one-port-to-rule-them-all, but it’s still a dream and the reality of Mac life is that… it’s not an iPad. It’s purposefully, intentionally not an iPad. And ports are a big part of that not-an-iPadness. Even if all of us know they’re both going to end ups on the same exact side, right?
Then there are the media engines. The MacBook Pros have H.264, H.265, and ProRes accelerators on the M1 Pro and Max, but the A15… the A15 that M2 will likely be based on, well… that also has those accelerators. It’s how the iPhone 13 Pro is doing ProRes. Would Apple bring them to the MacBook Air, so it can better handle heavier video editing workloads?
Here’a another question — would Apple bring 5G to the MacBook Air, and would they do it now? So far, Apple’s been content to let macOS tether to iOS for cellular. But they’ve started integrating better power-savings into macOS, and better silicon, so could better connectivity be next? Or… hear me out… does Apple wait another year or two until they’re ready to start shipping their own custom modems, and then not only would they be better integrated into the chipset, and way more efficient, Apple would also only have to pay the obscene licensing fee for Qualcomm’s patents, and not the downright offensive rates they demand for dedicated chips.
Which could help keep costs down, because this isn’t going to be an entry level MacBook Air. The M1 is going to hold onto that place in the lineup for at least another year or two. No, this is going to be a premium MacBook Air experience. Full of new and expensive parts that Apple’s going to want to pay down as fast as possible.
Because that’s been the pattern as well. The OG manilla envelope MacBook Air started at $1800 for the platter version, but went to over $3000 when fully decked out with an SSD. The second generation 13-inch started at $1300 but eventually fell to that $999 sweet spot over time. At least until the 3rd-G jumped back to starting at $1200, but again settled down $999, which is where the M1 sits now. Leaving room for M2 to start on top of it, until it comes down in a couple or few years as well. You know, circle of tech life.
Apple wants to give me, you, us — everyone — access to genuine parts, tools, and training so we can have the option to self-serve our own repairs… if we so choose. But…
Because, according to chief-operating officer, Jeff Williams, who you may remember from product announcements like… the Apple Watch, this is all about creating greater access to Apple genuine parts and giving customers even more choice if a repair is needed.
But is is really? I’ll link the full announcement in the description below the like button, but let’s just break it down first.
This is an all-new, all… you.. self repair service. Which means, if you’re happy fixing your own devices, if you prefer it even, like, if you know what a pentalobe screw is, Apple will ship you the parts, the tools, and the how-tos, and you’ll be able to complete your own repair. That’s right, no more Tony Stark, in a cave, with scraps.
Which is major, because Apple, famously — infamously — kept every manual secret and every part locked down for… forever… until now. It’s like a new day dawning. Or at least starting to. Maybe!
Here’s how it’s work — you’ll go to the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store, review the repair manual to make sure you feel safe and comfortable with the process, and when and if you do, you’ll order the parts and tools you need. Apple’s legendary logistics should ensure a plentiful supply of everything is available pretty much always, so they’ll ship it all out to you and, when you’re done installing the new hotness, you’ll send the old broken back to Apple for a credit on your order. That way Apple can refurbish or recycle everything and anything they can, while you, me, MrBeast, and the rest of us keep working on #TeamSeas!
Now, this is very much a first step, so there are some important caveats: The Self Service Repair program is starting off in early 2022, in the US, and with iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 displays, batteries, and camera modules, which are the most common and frequent repairs. It WILL be expanding though, to other countries, other parts, and other products, most immediately the M1 Macs, over the course of the next year and more.
But to start, that’s 8 models of iPhone, including minis, Pros, and Pros Max… Pro Maxes? And over 200 parts and tools, with more to come.
And it really, truly, seriously is meant for the high-order bit techno-mechanic nerds out there — you know who you are — those of you who can strip and refit an iPhone in the field, in the dark, under stress fire from family or friends, faster than Linus can plug the latest water bottle. So, just be realistic about your skill level and if you’re more… diner than cook, just take your device to an Apple Store or trusted repair center, and save yourself a ton of extra effort and expense.
Because this ain’t Ikea. 3 screws left at the end aren’t ok, and jokes aside, Lithium Ion batteries aren’t anything to screw around with, not ever. So, if at all in doubt, go to a store or arrange to ship it out. Because qualified repairs are also available by mail.
But, personally, I really do love this, especially from a privacy perspective. Too often too many self-proclaimed repair gurus are flippant if not downright negligent about privacy, literally saying things like — if you go to a doctor, you can’t be afraid to drop your pants. And, well, sorry, doctors have years of certified training, are licensed, regulated, and get their malpractice sued off if they violate us or their oath. Our phones contain our entire lives on them, and trusted first and third party repair shops aside, the more we can keep our devices in our own hands, the better.
Now, all of this is also part of a multi-pronged approach from Apple, starting with making Apple devices more… unbreakable to begin with. From Ceramic Shield on the iPhone 12 and 13 to crack-resistant crystal on the Apple Watch Series 7, to stainless steel and aluminum meant to last way, way longer than plastics. But we don’t have any vibranium or adamantium or uru on this planet, at least not yet,
so Apple is also expanding guidelines around the usage and disclosure of 3rd party… parts at repair centers, so customers have more choice, but it’s informed choice. That, and Self-Service repair, means when something needs fixing, there are now more, better options to get it fixed.
So Self-Service repair, means when something needs fixing, there are now more, better options to get it fixed.
Will it make every right to repair and consumer protection advocate Elf-style smiling is my favorite level happy? Probably not. Will it address regulation of both vendors and indie repair shops, nope. Will have to wait and see how all of this plays out over the next year? You bet. But it does represent a fairly sizable turn of… never mind Apple’s ship, but their carrier group, and that ain’t nothing.
The iPhone 13 is here with better cameras, better video, better battery, better display… pretty much better everything. And I’m going to give you 7 very specific reasons why you’re gonna want to switch — or switch back — from Android to iPhone, and 3 just as specific reason why you might want to stick with the Pixel, Samsung, OnePlus or whatever Droid done brung ya.
Now, I’ll get to why you really might want to make the switch in an Apple silicon hot minute, but first there are a few reasons that make you want to stick.
First, Apple is still the only company making iPhones. So, if you don’t like what Apple’s doing, you’re out of luck.
With Android, if you don’t like what OnePlus did with the 9, not a problem, you can pick up what Google did with the Pixel 6. If you’re bored with black slabs, you can get flips and even folds. If you hate notches, you can get hole punches or foreheads or even mechanical choochers what raise and lower cameras and spin them around. If Lightning isn’t your thing, you can get USB-C.
Point being, there’s just an endless variety of hardware options — and yes, experiments — other there that Apple is simply not going to even try and match. Either never, or just not any time soon.
Same for software customization. Sure, with the iPhone you can change your wallpaper, your widgets, even use Shortcuts to swap up your icons, if you’re willing to put in the work. But you’re still locked to that classic iPhone launcher and grid, with nothing like a proper ThemeKit in sight.
Now, Android… Android isn’t your dad, your mom… your parent. Android isn’t the boss of you. No matter how much the Google Play APIs increasingly try to make you clean your room.
You can customize, you can theme, you can make it material… YOU! Which is legit terrific looking. But you can also make your system font Comic Sans if that’s exactly the type of monster you gotta be.
And while some people just want their phones work for them, if you’re willing to work for your phone, the more time and effort you put in, the weirder and wilder you can make your Android experience.
There are two types of apps you can get on Android that you just can’t on iPhone. The first is real game streaming services like Google’s own Stadia, or Microsoft’s Gamepass. That means you can stream the latest games as easily as you stream the latest shows from Netflix or Disney+. Apple, not so much. They’re bizarrely stuck in the past and want every app stuck in the store. Fingers crossed that changes and soon, but it is what it is for now.
The second type of app you can get on Android that you can’t get on the iPhone is… yeah, anti-virus. Insert your own punchline here.
But Android also lets you side-load, which means you can install apps from the web instead of the Google Play store if you really want to. You’ll get a bunch of warnings about safety and security, because it is a huge risk and there’s tons of malware out there, but you can do it.
It’s a lot like Gatekeeper on the Mac, which is something Apple’s never implemented on the iPhone.
And you can also set pretty much any app to do pretty much anything by default. Apple allows that for a very few things, like Mail and Browser, and has Shortcuts so you can automate pretty much anything, but Android is still more open world to Apple’s life on rails.
Do Switch to iPhone
1. Small… and cheap
Now, switching to the iPhone has more than a few quad-major advantages too. For example, you can get really good, really small iPhones.
There’s the iPhone 13 mini, which takes everything that was great about the one-handed iPhone 12 mini and adds a way better camera and way longer battery life. Seriously, it’s gone from a day-timer to an all-dayer, packing every single feature from the full sized 13 in a body small enough to fit into your change pocket or clutch. Which is something that’s just not that easy to find anymore.
And, if you just don’t want to pay that much for that small a phone, there’s also the iPhone SE 2, which has an iPhone 8 design, complete with Home button and Touch ID, but with iPhone 11 internals, so it’s still plenty small and plenty fast, not compared to the latest iPhones, but still compared to the latest Androids.
2. The Experience
Because of the way they’re engineered, like beginning of time engineered, iPhones tend to run smoother for longer than Android phones. Even with far fewer resources.
iOS and iOS apps run native on the iPhone, not through an interpreter like Android and Android apps, the code uses active release instead of garbage collection, and every bit of it was written specifically for the device it runs on — there’s no overhead meant to cover every quirk of every possible different device from every possible different vendor.
Apple also still makes the highest performance processors, calibrates everything about the display and imaging pipeline, custom designs every power management and audio system, and the list goes on and on and on.
The result is, if you just look at the specs and see 4 to 6 GB of RAM or a physically smaller battery, or a 120Hz refresh rate or a non-pixel binned camera, it’s still night-and-day compared to the quality and experience you have using an iPhone. They load and scroll and last and shoot way better than a similarly or even much higher specced Android device.
And in North America, tying into iMessage and FaceTime… just works.
3. The Google
If you’re on Android, outside of China, with very, very few exception, you’re on Google. And that’s totally fine for a lot of people. Great even.
Google makes it so that you can pick up almost any Android device, log in with your account, and be up and running rickety split.
With an iPhone, you can use your Apple ID, which you might already have from iTunes back in the day or an iPad now, or whatever, and be up and running just as fast. But,, if you love you some Google and want to stick with all of their services as well, that’s fine. Just download any or all of the plethora of iOS apps that Google provides, from Gmail to YouTube, Maps to Chrome, and log into any of them with your same Google ID. And… Google will very helpfully try to log you into everything else using that ID.
iPhone users still provide so many eyeballs and so much money for Google that Google makes damn sure they’re all over the iPhone.
And, for anything you may have that’s not Google, Apple has a Switch to iOS app right on the Google Play Store that’ll help you move just all of that content just all the way over.
And Google on the iPhone works… really, really well. So well, that you can legitimately make the argument that the iPhone + Google Apps is simply one of the best Google phones on the market. Best hardware, best services, best combo since peanut butter and chocolate. Even better than than some, maybe many Android phones.
4. Not the Google
But… but… If you don’t like Google, outside of China, using Android is tough. Google has their hooks in deep in the OS, even further down than the Google Play APIs which let modern Android phones be… modern Android phone.
So, even if you go out of your way to avoid Google services, Android is essentially a Google service.
That means you can make the iPhone into a really top-flight Google phone if you want, but you can also make it only partially a Google phone or, not any kind of Google phone at all.
If you don’t like Google’s privacy policies or security track record, if you hate the idea of data harvesting and exploitation and surveillance capitalism or whatever, you can avoid Google’s services entirely.
You can stick to Apple’s apps if you want, use a mix of indie apps, or even go all-in with Microsoft Edge and Outlook. Because, yeah, you can make the iPhone into a pretty great Windows Phone too.
The point is, you get to choose. If the Google services just aren’t worth the intrusions into your privacy, you can go completely without them and not miss a beat.
Speaking of which, if you want to, you can absolutely deck out your iPhone with all the Facebook… Meta… whatever apps you want. The big blue one, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram. The other dozen messaging apps it feels like Facebook has floating around there too.
They all work great on the iPhone, better even than any other phone. I mean, that’s the reason you so often see celebrities with Android endorsements, even the media teams at other Android makers, accidentally posting their Android ads… from the iPhone. Whoops. Whoopsie.
Same with TikTok. It’s why you see iPhones in the hands of so many of the biggest people on the platform.
But, like with Google apps, you also have the option of just saying ‘no’. To Facebook apps, even apps using the Facebook SDK. Or any SDK now with App Tracking Transparency. You can stop them, literally.. in their tracks… tracking… whatever.
Sure, you can choose to back up online with Apple if you want to but you can also choose not to and use the good old USB hardline instead.
Google and Facebook have been forced to talk about privacy lately as well, but Google has been intentionally conflating it with data retention and Facebook with encryption.
They’re also both really, really happy to cut third party developers out of the data chain and call that improved privacy. So far, though, Apple’s the only one being really, really happy to cut themselves out.
If you think that just means Apple’s services suck, that’s totally fine: You still have the option of using Google’s or Facebook’s or Microsoft’s or anyone else’s services instead.
Apple and the iPhone are the only ones currently offering you that range of privacy and security options.
6. The camera
Ever notice that the one app where Google’s open-ness ends, hard, is the Pixel camera app? Just like Apple won’t put iMessage on Android, Google won’t put the Pixel Camera app on iPhone… or other Android phones for that matter!
And, seriously, I don’t blame them. Companies tend to keep closed what makes them money and open up what makes their competitors money. It’s why AdSense is closed and Safari is open.
And the Pixel camera is absolutely terrific. It routinely outshoots the monstrous glass Samsung and Huawei keep bolting on their phones like face huggers from aliens.
But Apple’s also doing something really special as well, with hardware like in-body image stabilization, or IBIS, to ProRAW, to color matching not just between cameras but through the entire pipeline from capture to display, and computational photography that’s built into the silicon, so a lot of it runs in real time, in the live view, instead of all being shunted off to a post-process. And it launches fast and saves every frame, so you never miss a shot.
And Apple still has the best video in the business. Not just up to Dolby Video HDR in 4K60, but ProRes now as well.
Likewise, the depth and quality of photo and video apps on the iPhone is simply unmatched. Maybe unmatchable, given it’s just easier to make apps for hardware as consistent as the iPhone’s.
7. The ecosystem
Almost everyone talks about the value and power of the Apple ecosystem. And for a reason.
When you buy an iPhone, you also get all the free apps Apple makes for it — free as in free, not free as in your data — including the iWork suite, GarageBand, iMovie, and more. Plus all the free training and courses they offer, not just at Apple Stores, but increasingly online as well.
There are still more, better, third party apps sooner. And for a variety of reasons, not much of that is likely to change any time soon.
You can use iMessage and FaceTime for end-to-end encrypted text and audio/video chat. They’re not cross-platform, which is super frustrating, but they work great. And, if you need cross-platform, you can again get everything from Facebook Messenger to Facebook WhatsApp to Google Meet/Hangout/Duo/whatever, to Microsoft Skype, to Signal and Discord instead or as well.
There’s the Apple Watch, which is the best wearable on the market — so much so, it pretty much is the market. And AirPods, which have become so popular they’ve a meme.
If you have a Mac or iPad, Continuity lets you share cellular data, copy and paste clipboards, and even sync not just data but state between apps, so you can put down a half-written email on your iPad, pick up your iPhone, swipe, and just keep typing that email.
And, of course, AirDrop lets you send files back and forth so quickly and easily you literally start feeling lost with it.
And with Apple Silicon Macs, you can now have an laptops as fast as some workstations, with all day battery life, totally, completely, and always in sync with your phone.
Plus, you get software and security updates, in every country, on every carrier, all the time, at the same time, for years. Around 4 to 5 years now. Which is something even the biggest Android vendors are only now even attempting to match.
So, if you decide to stay with the iPhone you bought, you get a lot more value in the long run, and if you decide to sell it or trade it in, you get a lot more sale or trade-in value as well.
That’s as true with a $400 iPhone SE as it is with a $1100 iPhone 12 Pro Max. And the good news is, no matter which one you choose, you can stay always up to date, with today’s sponsor, Morning Brew…
Now, I get it. I totally get it. What one person can find focused and consistent another can find tunnel-visioned, even boring. One person’s security and protection can be another’s straight-jacket. Each advantage can be a disadvantage.
End of the day, you have to get the best phone for you.
“With the increased core count and frequency upgrades, Apple has a good chance to overtake Intel in the PC space” — Wayne Ma, The Information
And yeah, that’s more than a little wonky, because Apple’s silicon roadmap isn’t just about core counts and frequencies, any more than Intel’s is just about goosing voltage, but before we get into what we already know about M2, and why M3 might be another major leap forward, let’s just address the elephant-sized silicon in the room.
Because The Information’s isn’t just talking about where Apple’s going next, they’re comparing and contrasting them with Intel. Including Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger’s top priority of… winning Apple’s business back. In his most fevered shareholder dreams, getting Intel’s hot and hungry cores back inside the Mac, but more realistically, winning their fab, or fabrication business away from Taiwan Semiconductor, or TSMC. Or at least part of it.
And, even there are geopolitical arguments and, personally, I’d just love to see more chips being fabbed in North America, that’s going to be an incredibly tough win, because:
One, TSMC is already on their second generation 5 nanometer process and are driving like speed-force fast towards 3 nanometers — and more on both of those in a quantum realm minute — while Intel is still trying to stick the landing on their 10-lets-re-brand-it-as-7 nanometer process.
And two, Intel seems intent on wooing Apple back through… the lamest, most ratio’d attack ads imaginable. I mean, the last one made me cringe so hard I almost pulled a hammy. So, I don’t know if they think they’re negging, which is gross, or just not thinking at all, but the best and kindest advice I can give Intel, from the obviously scorn c-levels to the stuck-in-the-90s marketing org is just… shut up and ship. Let your silicon do the talking.
Because that’s what Apple’s been doing. Hell, they’ve been letting it scream. Including, A15, which some Benchmark LARPers claimed was proof-positive Apple had hit a brick wall and was suffering from a brain-drain, or something, but which turned out to be just full of silicon surprises by the time folks like AnandTech got all up into it. All down into it?
I’ve done a whole entire explainer on A15 already, which I’ll link to in the description below the like button, and I’ve got an M1 Pro / Max explainer on the way as well, so hit subscribe so you don’t miss it.
And that’s important because M1 was based on A14 generation IP — Icestorm efficiency cores, Firestorm performance cores — not that Firestorm! — G13 graphics cores, the whole bit. But M2, if it comes out in the next… 6-9 months, M2 will almost certainly be based on A15 generation IP — Blizzard efficiency cores — not that Blizzard! — Avalanche performance cores, G14 graphics cores, and more.
Now, the Information and Wayne Ma don’t actually say much about M2, at least not compared to M3, which I’ll get to in a Pym-particle-process-shrunk second. Just that M2 will be fabbed on TSMC’s upgraded, plussed-out 5 nanometer process.
For its second-generation processors, Apple plans to manufacture them using an upgraded version of the 5-nanometer process, two people with knowledge of its plans said. One of the people said the chips will contain two dies.
Which makes the kind of sense that does, given A15 is already on the N5P node. And that there’ll be a single die version, code named Staten, in the upcoming MacBook Air redesign. And if you want to see a dedicated video on that next Air, just let me know in the comments. But that there’ll be a dual die version as well. I just covered the potential dual and quad-die versions of the M1, reportedly coming our way in the next Mac Pro, so I’ll link that below the like button as well.
Now, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has also reported that M2 will stick with 4 e-cores and 4-p cores architecture, but increase the GPU core count from 7 or 8 to 9 or 10. And that, like M1, it’ll also be used in Apple’s other ultra-low power machines, like the 13-inch entry-level MacBook Pro. Or MacBook Air Pro if you’re salty.
But, if M2 really is based on A15, like M1 was based on A14, then we kinda already know a lot more as well.
Where M1’s e-cores and p-cores were… a song of ice and fire… just with a way, way better ending. M2’s double up on cold. Like Mr. Freeze level cold. Not that Mr. Freeze!
The Avalanche performance cores, other than running at 8-10% higher frequencies and having double the system cache, have also increased the L2 cache size by half again. Taken together it just makes the performance cores much more efficient. 17% more efficient at peak states. At the same time, the Blizzard efficiency cores also offer much better performance, up 23% better.
Are you getting it yet?
Yes, sure, absolutely, performance efficiency of that magnitude are important for a thermal envelope the size of the iPhone 13, but it also just so happens to be important for ultra-low power fanless computers like the upcoming even-more-Air-y-er MacBook Air. Where the current version gets stupefying battery life but does ramp down frequencies on sustained heavy loads of like… 10 to 20 minutes or more. A cooler version in a cooler, lighter MacBook Air would be even cooler.
Especially if they also contain a version of the A15’s new media engines, including and especially the ProRes encode/decode engines. Apple’s already put those blocks on the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, and it’s possible Apple will keep them exclusive to the Pro and Max variants of future chipsets as well, but how cool would it be if even the Air could just render and transcode off the big compute engines. You know, just fly casual.
On my old Intel i9 MacBook Pro, hitting export on a big video would bring the CPU to its knees and trying to do anything else was an exercise in patience and frustration. On my new M1 Max MacBook Pro, hitting export isn’t just exponentially faster, it’s pretty much imperceptible as well. Like having a second MacBook Pro to use while I’m waiting for the export. And that’s workflow changing. A MacBook Air wouldn’t need Pro versions, but there are all sorts of clever mainstream use-cases Apple could find for lightweight versions of those new media engines as well. So all the silicon fingers crossed.
And, who knows, just like M1 Pro and Max have those A15-style media engines already built in, merged like Devastator… or Voltron, depending on where your franchise loyalties lie, maybe M2 Pro and Max will have some hybrid A16 features as well? What, iPhone 14 can’t have all the fun!
And just like Apple went from TSMC’s 7 nanometer process on the A13 to 5 nanometers on A14 and M1, they’re reportedly going to be going to 3 nanometers on the A16 and M3, code named Ibiza. Which, yeah, starts to sound sub-atomically small.
Wayne says it’ll debut in a future iPad Pro before going into a future MacBook Air, and then getting built out into Pro and Max models as well. Which, yeah, Apple works at least 3 years out on their silicon, so specific product launch plans can and will shift in the interim. So expect it when and in what you see it.
But, basically, a process shrink means you can fit the same amount of transistors into a smaller space, increasing efficiency, or even more transistors into the same about of space, increasing performance, or a little bit of both, increasing both. So that’ll be a huge advantage for Apple again, right out of the gate.
At the same time, Apple is also expected to adopt ARM’s next-generation instruction set architecture, or ISA — ARMv9. Some people are expecting more better big gains from that as well. And, I mean, I’d love to see it, but Apple’s largely been driving ARM since v8 and ARM64, and I don’t think that’s changed. My read is v9 looks like ARM’s way of back-porting a lot of what Apple’s already been doing over the last half-decade to standardize it and make it available to their other licensees, so aside from some matrix multiplication boosts, which assuredly aren’t nothing, I don’t think it’ll matter anywhere nearly as much to Apple. That, and I wouldn’t be surprised, like at all, if Apple announces their own ISA one day as well. SwiftISA, and the branding goes full-circle!
So, that’s M2 for the 2022 MacBook Air, and M3 for the 2023 MacBook Air, and whether Apple makes new Pro and Max versions of every M-series system-on-a-chip, or alternates like they did with A10X and A12X, but no A11X or A13X, or puts every generation into every Mac, like they’ve been doing with every iPhone, I’ll dive into in a follow up video. So, seriously, hit subscribe. But either way, any way, this type of rampant escalation in generational IP, process shrinks, core counts, and now dies, this… multi-vector attack on all the old preconceptions about what levels of power could be reached using… so little power… it’s going to be hard for Intel or anyone to match, at least for a while.
“Apple’s plans for its future Mac processors suggest those new chips are likely to easily outperform Intel’s future processors for consumer PCs” — That’s according to Wayne Ma at the Information, who just dropped a huge, huge report on the M1 'Extreme', or whatever Apple ends up calling the dual and Mac Pro version of the dual and quad M1 Max.
And since performance efficiency really does matter for desktops too, given transistor counts, power draw, thermal envelopes, and the limits of physics and enclosures, it kinda reframes the whole discussion around what Intel's new 12th gen Alder Lake platform really means of Apple!
But more on that Mac Pro, and maybe iMac Pro, in an Alder Lake hot minute. First, there’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of days about Intel’s new 12th gen processors and what they may mean for Apple and the Mac. The answer is… not what most people have been saying. Alder Lake is basically a desperation play by Intel to buy some time by goosing voltage as high as possible to win some cheap cred over AMD from the benchmark LARPers. You know, the canned synthetic download-one-run-and-done crowd. While they get their silicon new big.little architecture and process shrink ship back in order over the next couple of years. Which, I personally really hope they do, because getting Intel back in the game is better for everyone.
But Alder Lake cores score big because they draw big, and some may say that only matters for laptops like the new MacBook Pro, where you want more than a few minutes of battery life. But no, it matters for desktops too, because power doesn’t just define battery life, but thermal throttling, and, yeah, even enclosure design.
I’ll link Dave2D’s video below the like button, so you can see him give up even trying to air cool Alder Lake in a mini ITX — a mini tower! — and have to break out the water hoses. Can you even imagine the What If…? Episode where Apple didn’t make the switch to custom silicon, and Uatu is watching them try to cram one of these Shuma Gortah-level monsters into the next Mac mini or iMac? Watching it melt through the casing and burn its way to the earth’s core like… a homesick Godjira.
We’re talking under 30 watts for the M1 Pro or Max CPU fully lit, under 100 watts including the Max 32 GPU cores if you somehow… fire everything like a JJ Abrams Star Trek climax. With Alder Lake, just the CPUs bade at well over 100 watts, and climb from there to well over 200 watts, 300 watts even for the overclocked version. That’s as much as one of those big Nvidia or AMD cards that look like a massive Guild High-liner folding into space above Arrakis. And yes, I’m totally mixing my sci-fi universes here because of just how ridiculous it all is.
Because when Tim Cook said they had to switch to Apple silicon because there were Macs they wanted to make that simply could not be made on Intel’s current roadmap, this is exactly what he was talking about. Performance not driven by maximum voltage but though maximum efficiency. Not blast furnaces with fans as loud as hellicariers, but cold, and almost eerily quiet.
That’s what let them make a MacBook Air and MacBook Pro that are way, way faster for consumer and Pro workloads than anything Intel’s ever fabbed, but that also get like 12 to 20 hours of battery life. An iMac that doesn’t look like a cyberporn tower or even big bubble backed all-in-one, but pretty damn close to a TV regular human type people are actually willing to put in pretty much any room in the house or office. And it’s what might let them make an M1 Pro and Max Mac mini that won’t need to be water cooled but can be easily fit, by the unit or dozen, into any home or studio workflow, without massive power demands, air conditioner budgets, or noise levels. And M1 Pro and Max iMacs that take up no more room than a Pro Display XDR.
Or, yeah, a new Mac Pro that, absent massive Intel chips and AMD boards, doesn’t have to be anywhere nearly as massive itself. And instead of spending upwards of 300, 400 watts or more on that, they can spend them on scaling up M1… to the extreme.
Because, plot twist, everyone realizes by now Apple was well into working on M1 when the 2019 Mac Pro was announced now, right? So, why did they divert resources to that Intel box… and the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro? Well… Let me know in the comments if you want to see a dedicated video on how I think all that drama played out, but things like the Afterburner Pro Res Card were designed by the silicon team to give the 2019 Mac Pro an Intel-usable way to gain some of the benefits of what the media engines were going to be able to deliver, built in, for the upcoming M1 Mac Pro, only with the far more extreme performance that comes from being on die, and fed by all that bandwidth and unified memory.
So, what will they deliver on an M1 Mac Pro?
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has been covering it for a long while now, most recently in a tweet saying:
For those who think the M1 Pro and M1 Max in the MacBook Pro are impressive, the new Mac Pro desktop is expected to come in at least two variations: 2X and 4X the number of CPU and GPU cores as the M1 Max. That’s up to 40 CPU cores and 128 GPU cores on the high-end.
Here’s what the Information’s Wayne Ma just added:
the next Mac Pro, which targets professional users, will include a processor with at least two dies based on the M1 Max, as part of a family of first-generation processors code-named Jade.
Now, Wayne also dropped a ton of really juicy details about M2 and M3, which I’ll cover in the next video, so make sure you hit that subscribe button and bell, and look for a link below as soon as it goes live.
But, basically, Jade is the M1, or what’s inside the ultra-low-power Macs, including the MacBook Air, 2-port MacBook Pro, silver Mac mini, and 24-inch rainbow iMacs. Jade C-Chop is the M1 Pro, and Jade C-Die is the M1 Max, or what’s inside the new higher-performance, multi-port MacBook Pros.
Next, according to Mark, is Jade 2C Die and Jade 4C Die for the Mac Pro.
And what that sounds like, is rather than a single new monolithic die, or just another even bigger version of M1, like M1 Pro and M1 Max, like an M1 Extreme, Apple’s going to go with dual or quad M1 Max dies, all on the same package.
Whether Apple calls it something like M1 Extreme, or sticks with something more conventional like Dual and Quad M1 Max, we’ll have to wait and see, but that’s purely a marketing decision.
But what it means is, 4 Icestorm efficiency cores, 16 Firestorm performance cores, 64 G13 graphics cores, 64 GB of unified memory, quad H.264 and H.265 encode blocks, and quad ProRes encode and decode blocks… at the entry level. The entry level!
That is, if Apple doesn’t also offer binned down 12 active p-core and… or… 48 active GPU core variants to sneak in below their base price point.
But on the high end — on the high end — 8 e-cores and 32 p-cores for a massive 40 CPU cores, 128 GPU cores, 256 GB of unified memory, eight H.264 and H.265 encode blocks, eight ProRes encode and decode blocks, and a partridge in a flipping pear tree.
And that’s if, enormous if, Apple hasn’t figured out some brilliant or even hella ugly way to add off-package RAM options into the unified system, and some form of the current Intel Mac Pro’s Expansion Module system for even more compute. Either right away or at some point in the future with M2 or M3 architectures.
And yeah, there are whole bunch of questions about how Apple will tie all those dies together on package to really get all the performance possible out of them, but it looks like that’s, in part, exactly how they were engineered to begin with. So, just, fabric all the things!
But either way, any way, that’d be 2x the performance of the new MacBook Pro for the dual version, 4x the performance for the quad version, because… math… with all the unified memory to feed the CPU and 400/Gbps bandwidth to feed the GPU, but both also benefiting both… and that’s just nothing we’ve ever seen from a pro workstation before.
And at a performance-per-watt ratio that just… ratio’s Alder Lake, while almost certainly remaining way cooler, way whisper quieter, and able to fit in an enclosure that would make Intel throttle faster than... most people click out of their hyper-cringe Justin Long ads.
Tom Boger (TB): Tom Boger. I run product marketing for the iPad and the Mac.
Tim Millet (TM): Tim Millet, and I manage the platform architecture team at Apple.
Rene Ritchie (RR): I figure at some point a few years ago, a decision was made that you were going to bring Apple Silicon to the Mac, but not just like the ultra low power Macs like the Air, I think the ones that everyone figured you would, but the ultra high performance Macs including these new Pros. What went through your heads at that moment?
TM: My first thoughts were, wow this is going to be a really interesting, exciting challenge for me and obviously for the team that I'm here representing. We knew that we had a lot of great fundamental building blocks in the Apple Silicon we were building for our IOS products, but the Mac is a very different beast, especially our Pro Macs which is what this recent launch was all about. And so, for that, we knew that the challenge wasn't to reinvent those fundamental building blocks, because those were in a great place. It was really to figure out how to scale them up, reconnect them, sort of take apart the IOS based solution and really take those fundamental building blocks put them back together in a way that was going to deliver the awesome performance that we were able to achieve with M1 Pro and M1 Macs.
TB: I was just tremendously excited. I knew what Apple Silicon could do. We obviously we're already demonstrating that with our, you know, most compact and affordable systems, and I could not wait to bring the ground breaking architecture of Apple Silicon to our higher end Pro products, because I knew it would be profound. I knew that it would completely change the game for our users, and just allow them to do things that they quite honestly couldn't do before, and I just couldn't wait. Tremendously excited.
RR: I've been using the new Mac Pro since just after you announced it. And, it's been, personally, the biggest breakthrough in traditional portable computing since that famous second generation MacBook Air, but at the opposite end of the spectrum. And, I've been doing workloads that used to routinely, consistently just thrash my old I9 MacBook Pro, turn it into this laboring blast furnace with fans as loud as a heli-carrier, and the new M1 Macs, it just stays utterly, almost eerily silent. And, I'm throwing everything I can at it, 4K video, a bunch of gnarly Canon Codex, processing audio, thumbnails, running Electron apps. And, I did that for 10 hours straight yesterday on battery, and I had 40% left in the tank when I had to quit. And, I know Tom, when you said that Apple Silicon would let you make Macs that just weren't able to do before, that weren't possible before, I think now that you were underselling how transformative it would be.
TB: Yeah. No. It's pretty incredible when you use these systems. And, what I find most interesting is that we've been taught as users for many, many years that, you know, you can't expect to have great performance without the fans going on. You can't expect to have great performance when you're doing Pro workloads when you're on battery. And now, in an instant, you can. It's so fun to watch all the videos that people are posting where they're trying this and they're trying that, and their mind is just blown about what they can do. They jump out of their chair, and literally can't believe what they're seeing. That is so fun for us here at Apple. You know, that kind of reaction, and that kind of just experience that we're giving people is why we come to work everyday and work as hard as we do. And, we love it, and we love the Mac, and so we're experiencing the same thing. We're doing things on our Macs that we can't believe we can do, and it's just really, really exciting time.
RR: Intel and AMD have forever been trying to cram these big thirsty server and PC tower parts into laptops, trying to scale them down to fit those much more constrained power and thermal envelopes, like trying to push a river through a very high pressure hose. But, you all started with the iPad and iPhone, and it seems very deliberately that you've let efficiency drive performance. Can you talk a little bit about your, you know, famous slow, low, wide approach, what it is maybe first, but also what it means when you now have the envelope the size of a new MacBook Pro to let it run in?
TM: This journey started for me back for the original iPhone. So, I've been working on every chip that's gone into every IOS product from the first iPhone, and you're right. That point, it was about how can we make this device more performant than anybody imagines it possibly could be? It was about delivering a level of performance that was surprising. And, because you had a touch based UI in those systems, you had no error bar there, really. If there's a laggy experience for the touch based thing on an iPad or an iPhone, the user notices it. And, the magic disappears, and so this is where the foundation of the obsession with delivering performance within the constraints of these ridiculously small devices came from. And, over the years, we had a lot of energy. We grew our team. We established some foundational architectural principles. And, energy efficiency was always that piece. We don't ever talk about performance without also talking about the energy that goes into delivering that performance. So, when we did get to the point where the fundamental building blocks, our CPUs, our GPUs, our neural engines were reaching the performance levels, they were competitive. This is when this discussion around the Mac became super interesting. And, you know, as we do with every product, this did not come about because we said, "Hey, let's build a chip idea and go pitch it to the Mac team, and see what they think." This was, "Hey, let's all get together and build and amazing Apple product." We built a chip of course, but we did it within the requirements, within the constraints of these amazing new platforms. And, they built it together. I kind of like to think that the new MacBook Pros, the 16 and 14 inches, they're kindly gently hugging these chips. Like, they're embracing them. They're built right in. They were not some part that we built and then had to wonder what the enclosure was going to be like. We built them in a very targeted way. And, like you started to say, efficiency delivers performance. Well, because the fundamental building blocks had that potential performance, we're finding ourselves delivering amazing performance inside these new devices. And, you know, you don't hear the fans go up because two things. It's a wonderful mechanical product design with, you know, amazing engineers doing that work. Plus, the chip, all CPUs maxed out, reaches a max power of around 30 watts. You saw that in the keynote slide. Well, 30 watts is not going to make the fans move. So, you can beat it up all you want with the CPUs. It's not going to do anything. But, that's not the only engine. We know we put a huge GPU. Our memory system is beyond belief in these systems. And so, why is it harder to come the other direction? Absolutely, and why? Because they were designing without those really fundamental constraints that we had to design to in the phone and the pad.
TB: These new Mac Pros, they're the ultimate expression of something that we've said at Apple for many, many years. And that is, "We build the whole widget," right? And, in this case, right down to the silicon. And so, to be designing something from the ground up where the architecture team is working on silicon specifically for these products and no others, this is unheard of in the industry. And, it's one of the reasons why these are just such game changing products.
RR: You have spoken before about your scalable architecture and how you know have an S7 based on an A13 E core in the watch. You have A15 in the iPhone and iPad mini, M1 and now M1 Pro and Macs in the Mac. And, that's like three generations of IP across four product lines and maybe five distinct SOC scales, but you're scaling this architecture from like four P courses and four or five graphics cores on an iPhone. Up to eight P cores and a ridiculous 32 graphics cores and 64 gigabytes of ram on the M1 Max. But, I also know that you and the team aren't just out there with like hot glue guns pressing all those new extra cores onto the die. What were the challenges in actually keeping all those cores fed, those pipelines full, but still scaling up Pro silicon for all the Pro workloads that, you know, Tom knew you had to deliver?
TM: It's great that you mention the Pro workloads, because that was sort of our fundamental motivation. When we were trying to figure out how to set the targets for this chip, you can imagine that it's a wide range. We wanted to figure out how with the tools we had to max out these new enclosures. So, it started with those Pro workloads. We worked closely with the Mac Pro workload team. We worked closely with the product designers to make sure we understood from, you know, from a strategy of IO. Let's make sure we have the right IO strategy around these chips. That's a big difference on these chips. You know, we don't have the ability to drive three plus one displays in any of the other chips. We had to go figure out that story. The scalability getting from where we were in M1 even to where we are in M1 Pro and M1 Macs was a fundamental re architecture of what we call the fabric, the interconnect through which all of these different cores connect together. And, the big challenge around unifying memory at this scale, because nobody's ever built this. There are unified memory examples all over the place. Every IOS system is a unified memory. Nobody has built unified memory at this scale. You talked about that 64 gigabytes. Well, along with that goes a 400 gigabyte per second memory system. So, why do we need such a crazy memory system on a computer like this? You need it, because that's the only thing that's going to keep that GPU fed. High end GPUs that operate in this class, they have memory systems this big. We knew we were going to need something like that if we were going to compete with the discrete GPUs that go in these Pro laptops. On the CPU side, the other thing that's critical, CPUs care about latency more than anything else. So, we had to figure out how to deliver that bandwidth to the GPU, low latencies to the CPU, but what falls out is incredible. And, you heard us talk about this in some of our previous briefings. You end up with a high capacity unified memory system, because a CPU needs that depth. It needs that 64 gigabytes. Pro users need the extra capacity. But, never before has a GPU been able to get that much access to a such high capacity memory system at that high bandwidth that it needs. And, never before has a CPU cluster gotten access to such a high bandwidth memory system before. I mean, it really is an interesting side effect of this, the way we built the machines. And, it was very intentional, because the GPU needs the bandwidth. The CPU needs the capacity. It also needs low latency. And so, the constraints are there. It's all over the place. And, putting it all together was a complete new redesign of the inner connect, the fabric and memory system from the M1 for example.
TB: And, you know that re architecture of the chip with the tremendous bandwidth and low latency of the unified memory architecture, it literally allows people to do things they couldn't do before. PC laptops, they top out at 16 gigabytes of memory. You heard Jules from Otoy talk about there's never been any hardware that allows a GPU access to 64 gigs. And so, when Truthy was talking about that topic, there was a scene behind her on the slide which is a model that our Pro workflow team created in Octane that has 137 million triangles. It requires nearly 35 gigabytes of video memory. And, on a 16 inch MacBook Pro with M1 Macs, you can interact with it fast and fluidly even in HDR. So, it's an HDR asset. And so, you can see HDR on that amazing screen. And, it is literally a workload and a workflow that was not possible before on a laptop. And, oh, by the way, you can do all that in battery. Which is just incredible.
RR: You both mentioned the Pro workflow team. And, for people who aren't familiar with them, you have essentially world famous award winning 3D artists and film makers and audio engineers, just the best of the best. People from Pixar, ILM, any place you can think of with high like super user people there. What does it mean for you and your teams to have sort of the pros of the pros hitting all of this stuff not after you release it, but like during the whole design period?
TM: Oh, it's fundamental to how we build things at Apple. As a person who's been building chips for more than 30 years now, doing that at Apple provides a level of focus that most folks who do what I do don't have. You know, I like to say that, "My team never has to guess." We never have to guess what software is going to run. They never have to guess what enclosure that we're going to be building into. We have certainty. It means that we can be really efficient in our focus. We can target things in particular and know that we don't have to target other things. And, when we make a decision, it's made years before it gets into the product's hands, which hopefully in the end, and I believe that's true folks when they get these products and they open them up, they really appreciate the consideration, the choices, that the intent was there. There's no surprises. Things work the way they're supposed to work. And, we don't leave anything on the table. We try to make sure that when we're building these chips we're using every transistor with intent, with purpose. We're not wasting transistors guessing whether something's going to be useful or not. And, because of the way we work with our partner teams across Apple, we don't have to guess. We know.
RR: It's your job every year to deliver the absolute best, formerly IOS, now IOS and Mac OS and app performance on the planet given the limits of time and the thermal envelope of the enclosure. And, schedules and industrial design can change a little bit, but physics like silicon is totally unforgiving. So, it seems to me, we're seeing some of the hard limits to just goosing frequency and ramping up voltage in the industry, but Apple seems to be increasingly focusing beyond just the big compute engines. Like you basically, this still blows my mind, you've basically taken a 2019 Mac Pro with Afterburner and Pro display XDR and you've shoved it a fairly mid to high end version of that Mac Pro into the new MacBook Pro. And, I know that's the definition of non-trivial, even beyond the big media engines, you're doing just a ton of work on performance and storage controllers, display engines, the fabric you mentioned. So, I guess what I'm asking you is when you talk about your transistor budgets these days, cores versus other features. How and what do you choose to spend it on? What sort of guides you to let you put all of that into this?
TM: I think there is absolutely a lot to be said about things like Afterburner. That's a great example about ProRes. ProRes acceleration, you know, why bother putting that down? You could run that on the CPU. And again, this goes back to we knew through our Pro workload team that this was going to be a super valuable thing to accelerate. And so, when we look at something like ProRes, why would we go accelerate it? What are the reasons you'd do that? And, it always comes down to two fundamental reasons. One of them is you have a constrained enclosure, and you know that through doing what we call a fixed function approach to something like a video codec like ProRes is going to allow you to do things that have significantly reduced energy. You save a lot by doing that. So, from an efficiency perspective it's always a big win. The second thing that falls out though is you get a big performance bump. You know, it was it necessary to do that? Was it necessary to achieve the performance? And, when we do the math on looking at our amazing GPU and our CPU, the answer is probably no. We probably didn't need to do the dedicated work, but when we looked at the energy equation, we said, "You know what? We don't want Pro users to have to worry about being plugged in when they're doing some of this work. We want to be able to do this work at an energy level that's more aligned." And so, when we do that trade off, we look at the investment in silicon. And, the third piece that sort of contributed to that amazing ability to kind of out perform the Mac Pro, the old Mac Pro with the Afterburner card goes back to your questions around SOC and the unified memory. We built those engines that went into the Afterburner card. We built the, we customized those engines, those ProRes engines. When we moved them and integrated them into the SOC, you saw dramatic improvements. And, that's because you moved them closer to the memory system. You got them closer to this shared 400 gigabyte per second memory system. And, that makes all the difference for this kind of a workload. So, it was a win, win, win. And, those are the easiest things for us to go and make our judgment call. And again, we sit down with our marketing team, with Tom's team. We sit down with the Pro workloads team, and obviously we sit down with, you know, my boss Johny Srouji who you all saw in the keynote. You know, when he sees a story like that, it's a pretty easy decision. We say, "Yeah. We're going to go do that."
TB: And, the other benefit for integrating things like the ProRes accelerators is it offloads that task from the CPU and GPU. So, they can do other things. We said it in the keynote. This is one of the huge advantages that we have in designing our own silicon specifically for our systems.
RR: For me, one of the biggest changes is yes, your ProRes rendering is like 10 times faster for me now. More than that, you know, it's giving me large chunks of my life back. But, it's every little thing is faster when I pull an effect it doesn't wait a few seconds every time. When I switch apps, it doesn't wait a few seconds. It's all those seconds off of all those minutes that's effectively given me a large part of my life back, and, I think for Pro users, that's an indescribable feeling.
TB: It's also unleashing you from being in a specific place, right, to be plugged in. You're getting that incredible performance and that incredible capabilities on the go on battery. And, I keep coming back to that, because if you're not familiar with Pro workloads and these kind of applications and ways in which our users use these systems, you don't realize that. You know, a lot of people who aren't working on Pro things, they don't realize that well, in this space, you really have to be plugged in. That's not true anymore, right? You know, we literally, quote unquote unleash people from being chained to being at a desk plugged in, because creativity strikes our users anywhere and everywhere. Could be on a train, at a cafe, in a park, a photographer who's in a tent because of shooting on location. Could be in the back of a taxi cab, and so, literally, I mean that happens. And so, you know, we want to make sure that people can have this amazing experience wherever they are.
RR: And now, that whole unleashed tag line makes all the sense in the world. I say this only semi in jest, but about the only complaint I've seen so far is that people no longer get a free space heater with every Mac. Your coffee doesn't stay warm. Your cat doesn't come over and cuddle. You have to buy a separate warm blanket if like me you live in Canada. That's a big change too, because it is, like I said, eerily quiet, eerily cool, and utterly responsive all the time. And, I can't imagine how many little things go into making that big of a difference. But, it's really impressive when you take it together.
TM: You know, I like to tell this story to folks on my team. You know, when I worked at other places in Silicon Valley building chips, the way things started is you'd build the chip. And then, you'd go figure out how to put it on a motherboard, and then you go figure out how to put an enclosure around it. And then, somebody figured out how to build fans big enough to keep the thing cool. And then, some software showed up. And, this is how systems conventionally have gotten built. Apple has completely upside down, and in my first few years, it took me a little while to figure it out. We start with a work of art imagined by our industrial design team followed by the best mechanical product designers in the world trying to figure out if such a work of art can be built with materials known to man. And then, the electronics team gets their budget. The software team chimes in about requirements, and the people, the lowly silicon people at the bottom are handed this sort of, "Hey, we need you to go off and figure out how to build a chip that allows this to be amazing." And, frankly, this is some of the best constraints that a chip developer could ever have. We are in a great position because of those constraints to build that experience that you talked about. That things that sort of life changing experience for these products, and that's in the end what it's about. It's about, not just silicon to kind of prove how amazing we are. It's silicon and service of delivering product, and delivering life changing experiences. And, it could not have been done at a place that didn't have that Apple culture. We couldn't have done this breakthrough innovation with these new MacBook Pros if we hadn't started with those fundamental constraints that led us to build silicon the way we do.
RR: I mentioned the MacBook Air, like that was the big revolution for me last time, but that just got so widely copied. That became the template for every ultra book. I don't know how you copy this. I don't know what anybody else does in the industry, because you're not a merchant silicon vendor. You don't have profit and loss per chip. You don't have to worry about maximizing shelf life to recoup the cost of engineering these chips. Your silicon team is probably the only one in the industry that is really just let loose to run generation after generation, year after year.
TM: Let loose, you know you've met my boss, Johny Srouji. He is a very disciplined guy. And, from my perspective, I think that's the other really important constraint that really drives this organization is that focus, that discipline, never waste a transistor. You know, even if we're not trying to make margin on that transistor, that's okay. Why are you putting a transistor down that you didn't need to?
RR Tom, I want to ask you a little bit about gaming, because it comes up a lot, and not just Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmarks. Obviously, a ton of people at Apple are hardcore gamers. The iPhone and iPad are huge gaming platforms. You have Apple Arcade. There's Catalysts. There's Metal. But, for people who think that maybe Apple doesn't get gaming, or doesn't care about it, what's your current take on gaming on the Mac? Specifically, maybe these new MacBook Pros?
TB: We obviously definitely care about gaming from Apple Arcade and all of the great games that are on our various platforms. You know, these systems make a great gaming platform. And, we're excited about opportunities for developers to have great games on the Mac and bring great games to the Mac. Just like with Pro workloads from a gaming standpoint, they're, you know, systems that you just can't find anywhere else, and they're unlike any other notebook. And so, we think that this is going to be a great opportunity for developers to bring games to the Mac.
RR: So like from my point of view, just lobby your favorite studios. Just tell these studios what these things can do, and then demand that they bring all their games to them.
TM: Sounds good.
RR: Are there any little implementation details? Small things maybe that turned out better than you expected? Or, that you're just especially pleased or proud of? Like, personal favorite things when it comes to the M1 Pro and the M1 Macs?
TM: I gain great satisfaction out of our ability to predict many years ago, and as you can imagine, this has been a long journey. We don't, Apple doesn't just turn the whole Mac product line on a dime, and it doesn't do it very often. Frankly, I think going backward in time, it really wasn't a priority for us. Like we didn't say, "Oh, someday, we're going to take the Mac." We had a great product line. Intel was a great partner for the Mac transition as we went from PowerPC into intel. We built fantastic Macs. I think we're proud of every Mac we've ever built, but really what I think I'm most proud of is when we realized there was an opportunity to do something very interesting here, and we made our predictions about what we could deliver, the team and the collective team. Not just my team, but the broader Silicon Team at Apple was able to execute on that vision and deliver something that really was in the end, aligned with the predictions that we made to the company, to my boss, to the executive team at Apple so that they had that. They had faith in us and we were able to deliver on the vision that we were quoting
TB: As I mentioned, we love the Mac at Apple. We love the Mac. And, we want the Mac experience for every one of our users to be the best it possibly can. And, the reason is because we know that for our users in many cases, the Mac is their life. Their livelihood is on the Mac, right? And, that is, you know, you've heard that phrase before, you know, "You're not going to take this Mac out of my hands." And so, we know how important the Mac is to our customers. And, they love the Mac too. And, we want it to be the best it can possibly be.
RR: When you look at things like the port arrangements, you know, you went with Thunderbolt 4, which a lot of people love. There's HDMI 2.0. How do you figure out the bandwidth that you have for all of the connections and then choose, like we're going to go all the way with Thunderbolt, but people aren't really connecting big displays on HDMI. That's mostly a TV thing, so we're going to leave that bandwidth on the Thunderbolt ports. Is that all about the trade offs, or the workloads that you see in every day life?
TM: We start our chips, of course, many years in advance. And so, the nice thing about some of these IO choices are we can get unified on the kinds of bandwidths and set our specifications accordingly. And, he system team has a little more time to figure out the exact arrangement, what kind of port arrangements do they want to have? What kind of bandwidths? You know, as long as we are showing up with a chip capable of driving a reasonable set, a reasonable arrangement of ports across different systems, I think, you know, that's how it translates for us. I think the important choices that the system team makes about that are driven by all those great Pro inputs we get from the work flow teams, from discussions they have with customers, from Tom and all the work he does in outreach to try to make sure we're hitting the nail right on the head for the Pro customer.
RR: We now have these new MacBook Pros with everything from, you know, 6P cores and 14 GPUs on the 14 inch to 32 GPUs and a high power mode on the 16 inch, you know, talk about your love letter. For both of you, what is your go to?
TM: I am super excited that we were able to put M1 Macs into the 14 inch, because I love the portability of the 14 inch. I love that you can pick it up, carry it around, flip it open, do a bunch of work. And, the fact that we were able to put that massive computer in there, that is a point of pride to me. It really is the ultimate love letter to the pros that prefer that portability. You know, I couldn't be happier with how the 14 inches turned out.
TB: One of the great things about that system is and I'm not sure a lot of people have realized this. But, when we introduce these new MacBook Pros, we actually introduced a whole new product category for the Mac, and that's that 14 inch MacBook Pro. If you look back on our history of the MacBook Pros that we've been offering, there's been quite a distance between a 13 inch MacBook Pro, and, you know, years ago, a 15 inch MacBook Pro, and now more recently a 16 inch MacBook Pro. They've been very different animals, right? This is the first time ever where we have this amazing 16 inch MacBook Pro with these amazing capabilities, and now we have the 14 inch MacBook Pro which is really just all of that with a smaller screen.
RR: I was really tempted by the 14 inch, just because of how mobile it is, and when the world stops ending, and I can go back to traveling I think that is so tempting, but at the end of the day, I live in Final Cut Pro, and having the ability to have basically a Mac Pro with Pro Display XDR all that screen real estate, all those pixels in front of me to work with, to make it my main editing machine, I just couldn't turn it away. And, when you combine the battery life that you get with the 16 inch, it really does feel like a Mac Pro book as much as a MacBook Pro. So, I'm all in on the 16 inch right now.
TB: Well, we appreciate that too. It's that dedication, that passion that we have for the Mac. Hopefully, our users are experiencing in these products. And, you know, these are awesome, awesome systems, and, you know, I personally having been around quite a while working on the Mac, have never been more excited about the future of the Mac.
TM: And, I have to say, you're words are gratifying. And, I love to be able to speak to folks like you who can tell that story so well. And, you know, you are a user. You experience the goodness of the machine, and when you talk about it, I love to bring that back to my team and the teams we work with, and say, "Look at the difference you make," because you're right. There's a lot of our lives that are dedicated to doing this engineering. We love it. It's hard work, and it really makes all the difference when we get that product out there and the customers start going, "Wow, how do you do it?" So, thank you for the kind words, appreciate it.
14.2 vs. 16.2-inches. 3.5 vs. 4.7 pounds. 6 vs 8 performance cores. 14 vs. 32 graphics cores. 16 vs. 64 GB of unified memory. 200GB/s vs. 400GB/s memory bandwidth. Single vs double video accelerators. 512 GB vs. 8 TB SSD. 17 hours vs 21 hours of battery life. 67 watt vs. 140 watt power adapter. Pro portability vs. Max performance. And a difference of $500 to over $5000 or more. So, are the extra size and features worth the extra cash?
I’m Rene Ritchie, this… is MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Pro, let’s go!
One of the best things about the new MacBook Pro is that both sizes, 14-inch and 16-inch are almost identical. Almost!
That includes high dynamic range, HDR, mini-LED displays with up to 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, on both sizes. You just have to pick between those sizes. Between 14.2-inches and 16.2-inches.
On paper, that difference looks like $500. $2000 vs $2500. But that $2000 is for a lower-specced 14-inch, which I’ll get to in a minute. If you want to compare Apple’s to… Apple’s other Apple’s, once you put the systems in parity, the actual difference is $200. $2300 vs $2500.
Now, bigger might always sound like better. Especially if you want to have the most content in front of you as possible, for photo or video editing, music making, 3D rendering, coding, whatever. Just all the canvas, all the layers, all the text, and all the palettes, all the time.
But with that extra size comes extra bulk and, yeah, weight. Obviously the bigger one is bigger, which will affect how easily it’ll fit on your desk and in your bag, but it’s also heavier. 3.5 lbs vs. 4.7 pounds heavier. Half a kilo heavier. And that’s not so much if you’re leaving it on your desk, but it can be a lot if you’re carrying it around all day.
So, if portability is the most important thing to you, you’re going to want to go with the 14-inch. But if screen real-estate is your everything, you’re going to want to go with the 16-inch.
Real talk, unlike Deadpool, not everyone needs Maximum Effort from a MacBook Pro. If what you really want is that mini-LED display or those HDMI, SD Card, MagSafe, and Thunderbolt 4 ports, than the 14-inch model offers you the option of a binned-down M1 Pro with only 6 performance cores instead of 8, and 14 GPU cores instead of 16. Same 2 efficiency cores and 16 neural engine cores, just minus two p-cores and g-cores. Starting at $2000, or $300 less that the full-on M1 Pro.
And that lower core, lower price option just isn’t available on the 16-inch model. So, if you absolutely, positively, have to have a 2021 MacBook Pro, but you don’t want to spend a dollar more for it than you have to, the 14-inch is your nifty thrifty option.
On the other hand, if Maximum Effort is your mantra, well… for this MacBook Pro, you can actually go either way. Both the 14 and 16-inch models can be escalated to from M1 Pro to M1 Max, which means truly maxed out with 32 GPU cores, 64GB of RAM, and 8 TB of SSD. And both have identical ports.
But… but… The 16-inch does have a bigger thermal envelop, so it’ll be able to run hotter longer, if you are literally intent on lighting up all that silicon, all the time, which is why the 16-inch Max and only the 16-inch Max has a High Power mode that’ll let you goose the fans and the temperature to just let all those cores be all that they can be.
So, if you just want a MacBook Pro, and performance isn’t your prime concern, get the 14-inch, maybe even the 8-core, 4 GPU version.
But if you want a MaxBook Pro, get the 16-inch Max, 10 core, 32 GPU version.
M1 Pro vs M1 Max
You can get the M1 Pro or the M1 Max in either the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro. Both have the same 2 Ice Storm high-efficiency cores, 8 Fire Storm high-performance cores, and 16 Neural Engine cores. With the exception of that 8-core M1 Pro variant I just mentioned.
So, when it comes to just pure CPU and machine learning performance, you’re getting the same capability no matter which way you go.
With the M1 Max though, you can get 24 GPU cores for an extra $200, or 32 GPU cores for an extra $400.
All of those cores, efficiency, performance, and graphics, all have the same single core performance. What the versions with more cores give you is literally that — more better multicore performance. So, if you’re doing anything that’s GPU bound, for example, like heavy 3D modeling, or a ton of effects work, or driving a bunch of hi-res displays, that’s where you’ll see the difference.
M1 Max also offers extra accelerator blocks for media. 2 video encode and ProRes encode and decode engines, instead of 1 of each on the M1 Pro.
So, if you’re working on multiple streams of 8K ProRes video, or outputting a ton of video, for example, you’re going to want to go with Max.
The last difference is RAM. M1 Pro supports up to 32 GB of unified memory. M1 Max supports up to 64 GB. So, if you want max RAM, you’ll want max M1.
Now, unlike traditional PCs, which have separate CPUs with RAM, and GPUs with VRAM, all laid out on a board, Apple silicon uses a system-on-a-chip design, or SoC, that puts the CPU and GPU on the same die, and the RAM on the same package. That means the CPU and GPU, and other compute engines, don’t have to waste time and bandwidth copying data back and forth, but it also means they all have access to that same big pool of memory. Which at 16 GB is already big for a laptop GPU and at 32 GB… is just enormous.
Most people won’t need 16 GB, of course, but if you really are pushing the limits of your existing machine, if you’re doing tons of pro work in multiple pro apps across multiple pro displays, all at the same time, then now you can feed all those cores, all those apps, and all those screens with up to 32 GB
So if you’re more than fine with your existing MacBook or laptop, you’ll almost certainly be fine with 16 GB.
But if you’ve been frustrated with 16 GB in the past, if you’ve already been feeling memory pressure with exactly those kinds of workloads, then now you can get 32 GB, and maybe even keep AfterEffects happy!
For SSD, the basic rule of thumb is to take what you have now and double it for what you get next. That way you buy yourself some breathing room against storage creep. 1 TB is at the bottom end of the sweet spot. 2 TB at the top end. Any less, any you’ll likely be living that external drive life, which can be even more annoying that dongle life. Any more, and you’re just paying a premium to store bigger files and projects locally, and tempting the backup gods the extra convenience doesn’t make you extra sloppy.
So, if you don’t currently feel any storage pressure, go for 1 to 2 TB, and just offload old work when and if necessary.
If you are feeling it, especially if you travel a lot and it’s hard to go external, then look at more.
If you want the biggest battery, it might seem simple — just get the biggest MacBook Pro, the 16-inch, and that’s true. But only partly true.
The 16-inch absolutely has a bigger battery than the 14-inch, but the other thing you’ll want to consider is chipset. Everything else being equal, if you care about battery life more than performance, you’ll care about the M1 Pro more than the M1 Max.
Less silicon just means less power draw. That’s for both models. The 14-inch with the Pro will draw less power than the 14-inch with the Max. So, put those two things together, and the 16-inch with the bigger battery and the smaller M1 Pro will merge like Voltron to give you the absolute best battery life possible on the MacBook Pro.
In other words, maximum performance, 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Max. Maximum battery, 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro.
Which also might help you get maximum value, depending on your specific workload needs, between that $2000 base model Pro and the $6000 fully-loaded MaxBook