There’s been a ton of chatter about the iPhone 12 lately. That’s thanks to the deluge rumors from the likes of Jon Prosser, Kuo Ming-Chi, Mark Gurman, Max Weibach, and others. I’ve covered some of it before, so hit subscribe and check it out. But, this time, I want to focus on the iPhone 12 display.
See, reports are saying that Apple is going all-in on OLED across the full range of iPhone 12 devices. No more LCD on the base model, OLED only the Pro.
Also, that Apple is going 120hz, or ProMotion, on the high end, which means that will become the exclusive, Pro-only feature.
But, there’s also been a lot confusion about what those things are, what it all means, and how, precisely, it’s all going to work.
So, I jumped on iMore to dive a little more deeply into it:
Honored to join Shelly Brisbin on her podcast, Parallel, along with co-guest, the terrific James Rath.
Video just keeps growing as a way to tell stories about technology. Both of my guests have made video a mainstay of their creative output. I wanted these two experts to school my audio-centric self. We also talk a whole lot about accessibility advocacy through the video medium.
Come for the YouTube chat, stay for the accessibility.
“The Mac and Logic Pro X are essential tools used by the world’s top musicians and producers to create the music that we all love,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Apps Product Marketing. “Logic Pro X 10.5 represents the biggest update to Logic since the launch of Logic Pro X, with powerful new tools that will inspire every artist — from those just getting started with Logic, to those already using it to produce Grammy Award-winning albums. We can’t wait to hear what these artists create next.”
New features include:
🎵 Live Loops: New, free-form, non-linear music creator
🎸 Sampler and Quick Sampler: Next-gen EXS24, new combined 3-in-1 panel, fast, simple panel
This is Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro. The higher-end version. There are actually two new 13-inch MacBook Pros and, while that might sound confusing, it’s really nothing new. We just tend to forget that Apple has had both lower and higher end models on the market for… basically ever.
Normally, this video would be very different. I’d talk about how Apple announced the new iPhone SE a month ago this week, talk about my experiences using it since then.
Tell you how, despite throwing it my pocket with keys and other phones and it sliding off various services with alarming regularity, it was still amazingly scratch and break free.
About how I still miss high dynamic range on the rare occasions I watch movies on my phone, but mostly never notice it’s LCD and not ultra-high density.
That I’ve been spoiled by the iPhone 11 Pro and especially iPhone 11 Pro Max battery life, which gets me a day and a half without breaking a sweat — or breaking out a charger — while the new SE has me in battery saver mode by dinner time pretty much every evening.
How the photos and video are almost as good as the iPhone, it just doesn’t have as much range, especially as you get into very low light and night mode, or dynamic range on high frame rate video.
And how I do miss the full screen display, gesture navigation, and Face ID of more recent iPhones, which I love, but I also see why so many people still love the Home button and Touch ID, especially in the age of masks, and now that I’m not wearing gloves when I go outside… or, you know, going outside.
Normally, this video would be that, but something else happened when the iPhone SE came out, something wonderful and kinda disappointing.
See, for years, there have been some in the community who review mainstream products only to complain that they’re not for pros. That actively get upset when every product isn’t specifically for them. Even if it may be perfect for their parents or kids or significant others.
But, with the iPhone SE, there was an empathy miracle: Most reviewers who themselves would naturally gravitate towards a $1200 iPhone Pro Max said that, for a lot of people, a $400 iPhone SE would be the much better buy.
Most but not all. Because, yeah, there was some pushback. Here’s the gist, paraphrased:
All these iPhone SE reviews:
LOL no, are you joking, I’d never be caught d e d ded using one.
But, for real, it’s the perfect phone for you peasants.
Which, ugh, as cringe-sad as that sentiment is, it hits me on so many levels.
See, I’m a nerd, a geek, a tech-head, and I typically buy the highest end gadgets I can and promptly lose myself in every little implementation detail. And, for many years, that’s what and how I reviewed as well.
But I’ve been working really hard, really conscientiously over the last couple of years to complete change my approach. Why? Because the vast majority of people who buy this stuff aren’t other tech-heads.
They aren’t people who get a dozen new phones to look at every year and never carry anything longer than a few weeks.
They’re people who work very hard for their money and have to stretch it as far as possible. Who keep their phones for 2 to 5 years. Who hand them down to other family members. Who don’t shop based on specs but on value.
They’re my family. And… if they’re not you, they’re probably your family too. Your parents, your kids, your significant others. And, for the most part, they’re completely underserved by today’s tech media.
I mean, can you imagine if this were cars?
All these Toyota and Honda reviews:
LOL no, are you joking, I’d never be caught ded without my jag or lambo, baby.
But, too right, perfect phones for you peasants.
Because, yes, all-caps yes, that’s very literally the advice any petrol-head, any gear head, worth their humanity card should be giving everyone else in their families and this world.
Even and especially if you’ve been reviewing windows since you still had to launch it from the DOS prompt or you flip laptops like Shake Shack back when they still had a lunch rush.
And, you know, it didn’t used to be like this. In fact, Walt Mossberg pioneered the personal technology column at the Wall Street Journal just precisely so it wouldn’t be like this.
So, when Walt joined me on my new podcast this week, I took the opportunity to ask him about it.
The full audio version is up in your favorite podcast app:
This week, Apple announced a new 13-inch MacBook Pro. Last month, Apple announced a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard dock. Sure, there’s a new 16-inch MacBook Pro and an 11-inch iPad Pro, but since this is a comparison I’m sticking with what’s most comparable.
Because, frankly, I wasn’t originally going to do this video. I mean at all. I felt like it was too Apples to… Apple’s other Apples.
But you kept asking, you kept saying you had money to spend on one of Apple’s new 13-ish inch pro portables, you were just having trouble deciding on which one. And I’m here for you, always, so I’m doing it.
The MacBook Pro is a classic laptop. It has the guts of a full on portable Mac stuffed beneath the keyboard, with a sleek, incredibly thin display permanently hinged on top.
The iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard is the exact opposite. It has its guts stuff behind the display, which then opportunistically and magnetically grafts itself atop the kinda thin, but also kinda heaving keyboard dock.
The end result is that, with the MacBook Pro, you have a solid base and, because the display is so light and can’t become dislodged or detached, the ability to angle it and use it on pretty much any surface and from pretty much any position. You can open it wide without tipping it back, and it’ll stay totally stable on your lap. Of course, you can’t take that display off and walk away with it whenever you want either.
The iPad Pro has a fairly strong, albeit magnetic connection to the Magic Keyboard dock and, while that allows for unrestricted positioning from closed to open, the weight of the iPad Pro itself only lets it functionally open so far. And, while it totally works on the lap, the same extra weight on the top likewise makes it a little less — please don’t make me say lappable — that devices literally called laptops. But, when you don’t need the keyboard, you can just tear the iPad Pro off and use it like the full-on, ultra light weight tablet it is, the way nature and Jobs intended. Something you can’t do with any MacBook.
So, if you prefer the traditional computer clamshell, with heavy base locked to super light lid, you’ll prefer the MacBook Pro.
If you prefer the tablet but occasionally want to do traditional typing in a mostly traditional way, you’ll prefer the iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard.
The MacBook Pro has a 13.3-inch LCD panel. It’s Retina density, which in general means an average person from an average viewing distance shouldn’t be able to see individual pixels. In this case, it also specifically means 2560‑by‑1600 pixels at 227 pixels per inch at up to 60Hz. It’s bright, at 500 nits, and digital cinema P3 gamut, which means the color space is wide enough for richer reds and deeper greens. It also has TrueTone, so it adjusts to the color temperature of your environment for whites that don’t look too blue or too yellow but proper paper white.
The iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch LCD panel. It’s also Retina density, but 2732-by-2048-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch, so even denser than the MacBook Pro. It’s also P3 gamut, but brighter at 600 nits, and TrueTone, but instead of being limited to 60Hz, it can go all the way up to 120Hz for silky smooth scrolling and, more directly aligned with my interests, ramp down to 24 to show movies the way nature and Hollywood intended.
The MacBook display is also square and has about the same amount of bezel as it’s had since 2016. The iPad Air has rounded edges and had a good portion of its bezels taken away in 2018. They’re actually not that different in terms of ratio, but change elicits excitement so the iPad feels more modern and fresh, especially considering the 16-inch MacBook Pro went even more edge-to-edge last year.
The biggest difference, though, is that the Mac does not have multitouch or any ability to take touch input, built into the display. All of that is handled through the Touch Bar and trackpad. The iPad, though… well, it was born of multitouch.
More on that in a minute.
The MacBook Pro has slightly better speakers than before, with a stereo, high definition, wide, spatial audio, Dolby Atmos compatible pair that sit on either side of the keyboard. They’re nowhere near the almost HomePod quality of the 16-inch MacBook Pro speakers introduced last year, but they still sound loud and clear.
The iPad Pro has four speakers, two each on the top and bottom, when held in portrait orientation. It’s not quadraphonic, but rather designed to keep the proper stereo sound playing regardless of how you rotate them. And they sound every bit as loud and clear.
There’s a three mic array on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is fine. Not what Apple calls “studio quality” though, like on the 16-inch MacBook Pro… and the 2020 iPad Pro. They’re supposed to be more like dedicated USB mics, and something you can use if you forget your pro mics in a pinch.
So, the speakers are pretty much a wash but if you need to record audio on the go, without an external mic, the iPad Pro’s got you.
On the flip side, the MacBook Pro still has its 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can plug in whatever you like. The iPad Pro lost its jack last redesign, so it’s USB-C external only for you.
Speaking of which…
The lower-end MacBook Pro has two USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports, both on the left side. The higher-end version has four USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports, two on each side.
The iPad Pro has one full on USB-C port, but no Thunderbolt 3 since Apple doesn’t surface PCIe for the interconnect on the iPad. The Magic Keyboard dock has a second USB-C port for power delivery but not for data, since it transits through the smart connector which doesn’t have the same bandwidth, far as I know.
So, if you need more ports or higher speed ports, you’ll need the MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Pro has a tiny, 720p potato of a FaceTime camera mounted top and center, and… that’s it.
The iPad Pro has a proper, 1080p , 60fps selfie / FaceTime camera not just with much better back and low light capabilities, but with a full on set of True Depth sensors for augmented reality and Face ID.
But… it’s mounted on the side, at least when docked to the Magic Keyboard, which is way better but way more awkward.
On the back… the MacBook Pro has nothing and more nothing.
The iPad Pro on the other hand has like an iPhone 11 jr. camera system, with a 12 megapixel, 4K wide angle and ultra wide angle. Also, a LiDAR sensor for instant augmented reality experiences.
Which the MacBook Pro doesn’t have. No ARKit at all. But, you really need to take the iPad Pro off the Magic Keyboard to use it as a camera. Though that’s exactly what it’s meant for.
So, if you want or need cameras beyond your phone or dedicated camera, you’ll want or need to go with the iPad Pro. Even with the goofy angle when docked.
Trackpad and Keyboard
Both the new MacBook Pro and the new keyboard for the iPad Pro are… magic. That’s Apple’s existing, stand-alone Mac keyboard brand re-interpreted for the MacBook and for the iPad dock.
It’s backlit and uses scissor switches, like the old-school MacBooks, but is designed to feel more stable, like the butterfly switches. Like I’ve been saying, best of both keyboard worlds.
One the MacBook, it’s permanently attached. Literally the flip-side of the display. And it has a few things the iPad version didn’t. Like an escape key, a Touch ID-enabled power key, and Touch Bar for easy access not only to shortcuts but to media and settings controls.
The iPad Pro version has no Touch Bar, and no function or media row, but has a dedicated emoji key, so there.
The MacBook Pro trackpad is also much, much, much bigger. Which some people dislike, because of accidental touch events, but others love because of all the room for touch gestures.
The iPad Pro’s trackpad isn’t as big, and is physical rather than Taptic and virtual, like on the Mac. Of course, the iPad Pro has that huge, totally touchable display anyway.
Also, the iPad Pro has an optional Apple Pencil that attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro, charges inductively, and lets you do pretty much any drawing and handwriting you want to, right on the display.
So, the MacBook Pro keyboard is more like a like a traditional keyboard, Touch Bar not withstanding, and the trackpad is bigger with a cursor that’s more precise… because it needs to be.
The iPad Pro keyboard comes off, and is more of an accessory that expands the iPad Pro than the input method that defines it.
Here’s where it gets fun. The MacBook Pro has Intel processors and graphics. 8th generation and Iris 645 on the low end and 10th generation and Iris Plus on the high end.
It starts at 1.4GHz quad-core 8th Gen Intel Core i5 and tops out at a 2.3GHz quad‑core 10th‑generation Intel Core i7, with turbo from 3.9 to 4.1GHz.
The iPad Pro has only one processor option, and it’s the A13Z system-on-a-chip with efficiency and performance cores, built-in graphics and neural engine, and a variety of accelerators, security, and controller blocks.
Which is similar, but way more modern, than what the T2 chip does on the Mac.
The T2 is still Touch ID generation tech while the A13Z is Face ID era.
Likewise, while the MacBook Pro is still limited to 802.11ac and has no option for cellular connectivity at all, the iPad Pro has WiFi6 and optional Gigabit LTE.
But… the iPad Pro is limited to 6GB of RAM where the MacBook Pro starts at 8GB and the high-end model can go up to 32GB.
Likewise, the iPad Pro tops out at 1TB of storage where the high-end MacBook Pro goes all the way to 4TB. And it still handles external storage way more flexibly and just downright better. Which can be a meaningful difference.
Now, Apple has been updating their chips far more aggressively and successfully than Intel has over the last few years, to say the least. But silicon doesn’t mean much to people without the software that runs on it, so…
The MacBook Pro runs macOS, which is a fully mature, traditional, mouse and pointer, graphical user interface-based operating system.
And it can run all the traditional, x86 and AMD64-based software that runs on the Mac, from the Mac App Store apps, to the highest end, most niche, most powerful pro and scientific apps, all the multiple decades worth. All that require gobs of RAM and huge amounts of storage.
The iPad Pro runs, as of last year, iPadOS, a still-maturing, multitouch-based operating system.
And it can run all the hundreds of thousands of iPadOS apps in the iPad App Store. Which, in some ways, is far wider, but in others, isn’t quite as deep. Like it’s still struggling with Photoshop and doesn’t have the type of production software used by major studios or in science labs, for example. Especially the stuff that needs Bootcamp or virtual machine capabilities because it runs only on Windows.
Now, iPadOS has just recently gotten full trackpad and pointer support, although it’s not quite the same as macOS.
So, if you want that traditional computer experience and you need to run specific, Mac-only or Windows software, you’re going to want and need a Mac.
But, if you prefer the direct manipulation of an iPad, all the iPad apps, and the ability to use software designed not just for a typing computer but a real tablet computer, you’re going to prefer the iPad Pro.
The low end 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1299 U.S. for the 8th gen core i5 and maxes out at $2,499 for the i7, 16GB, 2TB model. The high end model starts at $1,799 U.S. That’s for the 4-port, 10th gen model, which can go all the way up to $3,599 with every option maxed out. Which, yeah, is a lot of money. 16-inch MacBook money.
The low end 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 U.S for 128GB with Wi-Fi, or $1348 with the Magic Keyboard, and goes all the way up to $1649 for 1TB with LTE, or $1998, maxed out.
So, MacBook Pro vs. iPad Pro — they’re such fundamentally different devices that they’re really not directly comparable.
That means, you have to ask yourself a series of questions:
Do you want or really need a traditional computer that runs traditional computer software, including legacy production or Windows software, in a very traditional way, with massive amounts of memory and storage, even if the silicon is uninspiring and the camera will have you reaching for your iPhone at any opportunity.
Or, do you want a multitouch tablet that offers all the portability and flexibility of a tablet, including full on camera systems and the optional Pencil, but can also dock with the Magic Keyboard for those times where you want a more traditional-style computing experiences.
Also, do you already have an iPad or Mac? If there’s an iMac on your desk, maybe you’re better off with an iPad Pro in your hands. Or, if you have an iPad Air or mini, maybe a MacBook Pro will let you get different things done better.
End of the day, you can get more bang for your buck with the iPad Pro, but only if it’s the kind of bang you really need to get done.
Apple announced their second quarter, 2020 financial results last week and despite everything else going on right now, they still managed to rake in over $58 billion dollars. What’s more, wearables revenue, which includes Apple Watch, set a quarterly record.
Hit subscribe and you’ll see all the videos I’ve made explaining just exactly why that is.
Now, much like the iPod back in the day and the iPad still TO this day, the computer watch market pretty much IS an Apple Watch market.
With one giant, glaring, neon exception. You have to have an iPhone to use one. But will you always?
Find out my thoughts in my weekly column over at iMore:
Apple has just announced that their 31st annual, world wide developers conference, WWDC, will kick off — virtually — on Monday, June 22, 2020.
And yeah, that’s three weeks later than usual, but what’s usual this year anyway?
If you’re not familiar with it, WWDC — affectionately known as Dub Dub, is the big summer show where, every year, Apple announces updates to all of their operating systems and the developer frameworks for same, which now includes iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and, of course, macOS.
Some years, though not every year, Apple also announces new hardware. The new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR. The iMac Pro and HomePod. MacBooks, iPads, even iPhones back in the days of Steve Jobs.
And, now, we have a heavy emphasis on services as well, which are helping to move the needle for Apple even when the rest of the world is on hold.
In a normal year, Tim Cook would come out on the WWDC keynote stage with his usual “Good Morning”! Talk about the developers in attendance, from all the countries around the world, the students and scholarship winners, and then turn to business.
Maybe services first. Apple Music and Apple Arcade seem to be humming along fine. Apple News is doing a great job, but is still in only a tiny handful of countries, which when compared to the previous two is just really, really sad. I can’t even imagine how just absolutely gross the international licensing must be, but it’s Apple’s job to figure it out.
Same with Apple Pay Cash and Apple Card. They’re still U.S. only. And, sure, U.S. banks are more competitive than most every other place on earth, and Goldman Sachs was about as desperate to get Apple’s product as AT&T was to take the original iPhone, sight unseen.
But, international customers already feel like we pay higher prices for less features, and anything Apple can do to push those high-affinity services out further would mean a lot.
Apple TV+ has produced some great content but now, like most other services, new seasons have been suspended and it’s unclear when additional programming will resume. With no catalog content to fall back on, like Netflix and Disney+, and the original year of free service coming to to an end, Apple’s going to need to decide what to do to keep the numbers up. Maybe a second year with the purchase of 2020 Apple device?
There’s also the idea of an Apple bundle. Apple Prime. Apple+. Basically, all the services, and maybe even iCloud, all together at a discounted price. Apple does a very little of that for students but it’d be a great thing to do for everyone.
I guess the only question is whether or not it would accelerate or decelerate Apple’s promise to double services revenue by end of year? In other words, would Apple make up the discounts on volume?
Let me know what you think in the comments.
Apple TV & tvOS
Last year, Tim Cook stayed on stage for tvOS, because TV+ dovetailed into it so nicely. In previous years we got Eddy Cue, senior Vice President of internet services, and members of the Apple TV team.
Either way, there have been rumors of a new Apple TV box for a while now. One with an even more recent, more powerful processor to better handle things like overlaid HDR, and next-generation Apple Arcade games. Even one bundled with a gaming controller to try for some of the casual console market.
I think we’ll absolutely see a new box at some point, but how far Apple is willing to with bundled gaming is another question.
iPhone and iOS
Apple hasn’t announced iPhones at WWDC for a decade, but Tim Cook has been handing off to Craig Federighi, senior Vice President of software engineering, to announce new versions of iOS for almost that long.
Craig is so good on stage I really hope Apple figures out a way for him to present virtually, in whatever way works. Even, yes, via Memoji.
iOS 14 is on tap for this year and I think, new features aside, Apple has to make up for the hot mess of a launch that was iOS 13 beta last year by giving us something much closer to the solid, stable, smooth experience that was the iOS 12 beta. For me, every other tentpole is a distant second.
That includes the rumored new Fitness app, messaging features, AR lens app, default apps, and everything else. And let me know if you want to see videos on those in the comments below.
The one bit of related hardware I am looking very much forward to is AirTags. Apple announced the new FindMy network at WWDC last year, and I’ve been waiting to see those little tags literally every season since.
I’ve already done a video on them, so hit subscribe and check it out, but how Apple is going to present them, sell them, and especially reassure everyone about the privacy of them, is something I’m really interested in seeing.
What everyone else is probably far more excited for are new, less expensive AirPods and even newer, more expensive AirPods Studio, or whatever Apple calls the over-the-ear models. Maybe with senior Vice President of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller doing the honors.
iPadOS and iPad
Apple updated both the small and large iPads Pro at WWDC 2017, with Vice President of product marketing, Greg Joswiak doing the honors. But the low-end iPad was updated last September and the Pros, just over a month ago. That leaves the Air and mini, but Apple’s been content to leave them for years before, so…
Craig Federighi announced the first version at WWDC last year — which was also the 13th version, because it’s still based heavily on iOS. And this year we’ll get 14.
One of the biggest rumors for it was full-on pointer and cursor support, but we got that with iPadOS 13.4. The other, is Pro Apps, namely Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and most apropos for WWDC, Xcode.
If Apple’s been doing in private what Adobe’s been doing in public beta with Photoshop for iPad, we could see real-but-not-full versions of some or all of those come June. Drop a like below if that’s something you really, finally want to see.
Apple Watch and watchOS
For the last couple of years we’ve gotten the Pride bands at or around WWDC. But the show belongs to watchOS. Kevin Lynch, Vice President of software, typically does the honors. Last year, tag-teaming with Dr. Sumbul Desai, Vice President of health.
Rumors for this year include sleep tracking, which has been rumored ever since Apple bought Beddit a couple of years ago. Also, more fitness features, because there are always more fitness features. And, a way to address mental health the way the Apple Watch has been addressing physical health for years already. Which would be terrific.
Let me know in the comments if you want to see a whole video on that.
Of course, I’m hoping for something that’ll make the Apple Watch even more independent from the iPhone. Maybe a way to set it up on its own?
The Mac and macOS
John Ternus, vice president of hardware, has been handling Mac announcements for a while now. From the Mac Pro last year to the iMac Pro a couple of years ago.
And yeah, the iMac line in general and the iMac Pro especially are more than a little long-in-the-tooth, so updates there would be great to see. If not in June then certainly in October.
The current macOS Catalina, introduced by Craig Federighi last year, has been just as painful as iOS 13. More even, when you consider the loss of 32-bit games and plugins for people who loved and depended on them, and the annoyance of the new security model for people used to the complete freedom of the traditional Mac.
After 10.15, Apple really needs a make-good with 10.16, a software version of the new Magic Keyboard, so to speak.
Of course, what everyone is really waiting for… is what everyone has been waiting for for years now — any sign or signal that Apple is getting ready to move any part of the Mac lineup to their own, custom, in-house ARM processors. You know, like the ones in the iPhone and iPad that have been running roughshod over the entire silicon industry going on a decade now.
Any more things
Apple’s automation efforts are still underway but probably still a ways off. We’ll certainly hear more about augmented reality, especially with LiDAR now on the iPad Pro and, rumor has it, coming soon to the iPhone Pro.
What about Apple Glasses, realityOS, StarBoard, and everything next? Probably also still coming next rather than now. Though LiDAR, and the AR apps we’ll be getting starting this year are rocketing us towards it.
Same with the artificial intelligence that, under senior Vice President John Gianandrea, I think will end up being as important to the next decade of Apple as silicon under senior Vice President Johny Srouji has been to the last one.
Two months ago, Apple launched an updated MacBook Air. This week, Apple launched an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Hit subscribe to see my takes on both of them, but one of the questions I got quickest and hardest was this — which one should people get?
Because, thanks to some quirks of Apple, the higher end MacBook Air now seems to have a really big overlap with the lower end MacBook Pro.
But these smaller laptops are hiding some bigger differences than might first meet the eye.
The MacBook Air’s design was last updated in 2018. It’s more modern now, with black around the bezels, but it’s still that wedge-shaped design that inspired a generation of ultrabooks.
The MacBook Pro’s design was last updated in 2016. The black bezels are the same but the body is less wedge and more squared off.
The thinnest point on the MacBook Air is thinner than the MacBook Pro but the thickest point is ever so slightly thicker. The rest of the sizes are the same though, but the Air is about 0.3 lbs lighter at that size.
All of them are available in silver and space gray but only the Air gets the coppery gold option, because coppery gold is just nowhere near serious enough for pros.
There are two Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports on the left hand side of both the Air and the lower-end Pro. If you want a full compliment of four, you’ll have to move up to the higher-end Pros.
And yeah, I would still dramatically prefer one port on each side.
The MacBook Pro is supposed to have high dynamic range stereo speakers to the Air’s simple stereo, but I’m not sure how much of an actual difference that is. Both support wide sound and Dolby Atmos, and both have 3-mic arrays with directional beam-forming and 3.5mm headphone jacks.
Yeah, that’s where they all went.
So, if saving a little bit of weight is a huge priority for you, go with the MacBook Air.
If you absolutely need high dynamic range on your speakers, go with the MacBook Pro.
Physically, both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro have 13.3-inch IPS LCD displays. They’re Retina density, which means an average person shouldn’t be able to discern individual pixels from an average viewing distance, and True Tone, which means they can detect ambient color temperature and adjust so whites look not too blue, not too yellow, but paper white.
And both of them still have way too much bezel for 2020.
Technologically, though, there are some big differences between the two.
First, the MacBook Pro can go 20% brighter. 500 nits compared to the MacBook Air’s 400 nits.
Sadly, both have terrible-not-very-good-actually-worse-than-a-potato 720p webcams. I’ve been complaining about them for years. Bottom line, I expect better from the company that makes the iPhone camera. Even if, yes, it requires a notch or a bump. Come at me in the comments!
Second, the MacBook Pro uses the wider, Digital Cinema P3 color gamut, as opposed to the MacBook Air’s sRGB. That means the Pro can show richer reds and deeper greens.
So, if you’re a photographer, videographer, or just love you some colors, you’re going to want the MacBook Pro.
Now, the processor part is where it gets complicated.
The MacBook Air starts with a 10th generation 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 and goes up to a 1.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7.
The MacBook Pro starts with an 8th generation 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 and goes up to a 1.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7.
That with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz on the Air and 4.5GHz on the Pro. But with the way Turbo Boost works these days, consider it frosting, never cake.
So, to boil this all down, given the differences not just in processors but in thermals, the higher-end MacBook Air should feel snappier with everything launching and loading faster. The lower-end MacBook Pro, though, should be able to sustain continuous tasks for a bit longer.
The Air, however, has the latest Intel Iris Plus Graphics where the lower-end Pro has the older Intel Irish 645.
That means graphics performance should be markedly better on the air, with more execution units and even things like display stream compression, so it can drive a 6K Pro Display XDR, where the low-end MacBook Pro simply can’t.
For the 10th gen processors and more modern graphics on the Pro, you’ll have to move up to the higher end, more expensive version.
Where there’s no difference between the two is WiFi. Apple seems to be skipping 802.11ax WiFi 6 on the Mac completely, at least so far.
Drop a like below if you want to tell Apple to hurry up with the WiFi, I don’t know, 6s… 6 Plus already.
The T2 chip is also the same. Same Touch ID, same camera and mic security, same real-time encryption, same accelerators for the stuff Intel just isn’t as good at.
Also, the Air promises up to 11 hours of battery life for light workloads where the Pro taps out at 10. For heavier loads, both will likely get you half that at best. But half of more is still more.
So, if you mostly launch apps, load web pages, and do other short, intensive tasks, you’ll probably appreciate the snappiness of the MacBook Air and the extra hour of battery life.
If you mostly render bigger audio and video files, or run longer complies, you’ll probably appreciate the longer sustained performance of the MacBook Pro.
Storage and memory
Apple’s recently been doubling the storage of their Macs while keeping the prices the same. Which is great.
And which is why both the MacBook Air and lower-end MacBook Pro now start at 256 GB of ultra-fast SSD, and both step up all the way to 2TB if you want to keep more and bigger files locally on your device.
The higher-end MacBook Pro will even take you to 4TB now.
For memory, both start at 8GB and go to 16GB.
Again, the higher-end MacBook Pro will take you all the way to 32GB now.
Pretty much a draw right here.
My guess as to why both the 2020 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro skew so closely to the previous models is that Apple just wanted to get the Magic Keyboards into them as fast as engineeringly possible, and every other bit of update was just whatever-else-could-be-crammed-in-there-given-the-resources-available gravy.
But, the end result is that both now have the new, scissor switch, magic keyboards. And, I don’t care if you preferred the old scissor switches or the previous butterfly switches, the new Magic Keyboard is just the best compromise between the two. More clickety-clack, less stuttery-stuck, and I’m calling that a win. You let me know you’re favorite in the comments.
But, especially with the physical escape keys and inverted-T arrow keys now being available on both, I think it’s great.
Pretty much the only difference between the two, and it’s a big one, is that the MacBook Air has a traditional function and media key row between escape and Touch ID, and the MacBook Pro having Apple’s Touch Bar.
And, yeah, still the same Touch Bar. No updates, certainly not haptics, that I can see.
So, if you like your good, old fashioned function and media keys, go with the MacBook Air.
If you see the Touch Bar as a plus and not a minus, go with the MacBook Pro.
The new MacBook Air starts at $999 U.S. for the 10th gen core i3 and maxes out at $2,249 for the i7, 16GB, 2TB model. The low end MacBook Pro starts at $1299 for the 8th gen core i5 and maxes out at $2,499 for the i7, 16GB, 2TB model. And that’s with the better display and Touch Bar.
So, if you want a lighter, snappier MacBook Pro to travel around with, even if it’s not between cities and coffee shops but just around the house, get the MacBook Air. I still like and recommend the i5.
If you want a brighter, wider gamut display, that’s just a bit beefier for just a bit bigger loads, get the MacBook Pro. I’d recommend the i5 there as well, unless you know you want more burst.
I’d also bump the RAM if you can, and maybe the SSD if you know you’re going to be keeping a lot of big files locally.