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(Image: © Future)

OUR VERDICT

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is an update that modernizes the MacBook Pro, adding an excellent keyboard and offering long battery life. Just be sure to check that you’re getting a configuration with the newest processors.

FOR

  • Comfortable, clicky keyboard
  • Bright display
  • Long battery life
  • Strong speakers

AGAINST

  • A pro machine should have more ports
  • Some apps still need updating to work with macOS Catalina
  • Base configurations use old processors

For a long time, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has been the go-to Apple laptop — one of the best ultrabooks and premium laptops for anyone who needed more performance than the uber-portable MacBook Air. It’s small enough to fit in a bag and carry around, but still has enough CPU performance to get work done. Starting at $1,299 ($1,799 as tested), the new MacBook Pro 13-inch goes up to Intel’s 10th Gen Ice Lake processors and, in a crucial move, adds the Magic Keyboard with scissor switches that are far superior to the MacBooks of the last few years.

The design is otherwise the same, but the changes are enough to make the MacBook Pro a standard bearer for macOS for another year.

Design

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Apple’s MacBook Pro (13-inch) design is tried and proven at this point, though this one has a slight change that’s almost imperceptible by looking at it: it’s slightly thicker and heavier to accommodate Apple’s “Magic Keyboard,” with scissor switches to replace the unpopular butterfly switches. With this laptop, Apple has wiped the inferior keyboard from its product line. Otherwise, the only difference is on the keyboard itself: the arrow keys are in an inverted T shape.

The MacBook Pro’s lid is spartan except for a reflective Apple logo. Our review unit  came in space gray, but it’s also available in silver. The lid is easy enough to open with one hand and reveals the 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 retina display. The bezels on the Apple MacBook Pro  are a little thick (particularly along the top) for a flagship in 2020; I wish they were more like the ones on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Pro’s chassis is built out of aluminum and feels completely solid. The trackpad below the keyboard is luxuriously large. Like the 16-incher, this one has the Touch Bar between a physical escape key and Touch Id.

The $1,799 model we tested has four Thunderbolt 3 ports — two on each side. Cheaper models, including the $1,299 base model, only have two of these ports, both of which are on the left side of the device. Additionally, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right side of the laptop. I still think that on the MacBook Pro line, Apple really needs to add more here. An SD card reader for photographers would be a huge addition.

At 3.1 pounds and 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches, there are lighter machines that the Apple MacBook Pro has to compete with. Specifically, its competitors all weigh 2.8 pounds. The Dell XPS 13 9300 is 11.6 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches. The HP Spectre x360 is larger at 12.2 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches, while the MSI Prestige 14 is 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches.

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch) Specifications

CPU Intel Core i5-1038NG7
Graphics Intel Iris Plus
Memory 16GB-3733 LPDDR4X
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
Display 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600, 16:10, True Tone Display
Networking 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 4x Thunderbolt 3; 1x Headphone jack
Camera 720p Facetime camera
Battery 58 Wh
Power Adapter 61W
Operating System macOS Catalina (10.15)
Dimensions (WxDxH) 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches / 304.1 x 212.4 x 15.6mm
Weight 3.1 pounds / 1.4 kg
Price (as configured) $1,799

Productivity Performance on MacBook Pro (13-inch)

We reviewed the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i5-1038NG7, a 28W CPU based on Intel’s Ice Lake architecture. As of this writing, we haven’t seen any other laptop with an Intel 10th Gen Ice Lake processor that goes higher than 25W. Apple paired the Core i5 with 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM and a 512GB PCIe-based SSD.

Keyboard, Touchpad and Touch Bar on MacBook Pro (13-inch)

With the 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple has brought its Magic Keyboard with scissor switches to every laptop in its lineup. No more flat, divisive butterfly switches here.

The keyboard is excellent. I love it. And while I never hated the work-issued 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro I’ve been using, I looked at it with a bit of disgust after typing on the comfortable, clicky new scissor switches. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I reached 113 words per minute, which is average for me. I also appreciate the return to an inverted T design for the arrow keys, as I find it far easier to navigate documents with those rather than the split up and down keys.

Apple’s Force Touch trackpad is 4.4 x 2.6 inches. I still find it to be among the most accurate touchpads out there, especially when it comes to gestures. It still doesn’t actually move, but haptic feedback makes it feel like you’re clicking.

Every single MacBook Pro, both 13-inch and 16-inch, now has Apple’s Touch Bar. Even the base model has eschewed the function key row. I don’t love the Touch Bar, but it wouldn’t drive me away from this notebook. I find myself using plenty of the features that the function keys did just fine, such as adjusting volume or brightness. But many of the apps I use don’t take advantage of the Touch Bar and , I still tend to do everything with the mouse and keyboard. Touch ID is embedded in the power button to the right and, of course, there is a physical escape key to the left of the Touch Bar.

Audio on MacBook Pro (13-inch)

The stereo speakers on the 13-inch MacBook Pro aren’t as amazing as the ones on its 16-inch sibling, but the top-firing speakers are still impressive for the laptop’s size. When I listened to “In Your Eyes” by The Weeknd, the synths and crooning vocals were all nice and clear. The bass was a bit quiet but was still noticeable, and the drums were nice and snappy. The laptop easily produced enough volume to fill my New York City apartment, much to the dismay of my neighbors.

Upgradeability of MacBook Pro (13-inch)

If you buy the MacBook Pro, make sure to get it with the amount of RAM and storage you’re going to be comfortable with down the road, because you’ll never be able to upgrade it. Apple is known to solder its RAM and storage to the motherboard, making those components impossible to replaceSure, there are screws on the bottom, which Apple or other authorized providers can remove for some tinkering, but there’s not much here for the average person to replace.

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