It’s been a while since Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The last refresh took place at the end of 2020 and was the first MacBook Pro to make the transition to Apple silicon. That machine retained the same design as the intel version that came before. The only slight change was the introduction of the ‘Magic Keyboard’ that first arrived on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Aside from this, no other visual changes came with it. The action was all on the inside.

The current 13-inch MacBook Pro is powered by Apple’s first generation of Apple Silicon, M1. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the upcoming 2022 refresh will be powered by the rumoured M2 chip. What is surprising some in the tech community however is that Apple seems to be sticking with the same design yet again. It originally debuted in 2016 and came with Apple’s maligned touch bar technology.

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 chip. Image – Apple

It’s likely that Apple wants to differentiate the 13-inch MacBook Pro from its larger, more powerful 14-inch and 16-inch siblings. Those larger models of course ship with significantly more powerful processors, the M1 Pro and M1 Max, but furthermore sport an all-new industrial design. It would seem that Apple plans to position the 13-inch MacBook Pro as an ‘entry level’ Pro machine. But it does seem an odd choice to keep this machine in the lineup when the 2020 MacBook Air shares the same processor as the 2020-13 inch MacBook pro.

The only difference where performance is concerned is that the MacBook Pro has fans and an active cooling system. In theory that should enable the machine to offer higher performance for longer without thermal throttling. Real-world performance though is largely comparable to the Air. Given the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are similarly priced and that we now have a fully redesigned MacBook Pro, it’s hard to see where this machine fits. Who is the intended market?

Who is the 13-Inch Macbook Pro for?

Apple may be hoping to capitalise on the brand recognition of ‘MacBook Pro’ while clearing out old inventory. Selling the machine at a similar price to the MacBook Air might be to encourage students and ‘prosumers’ to choose a Mac rather than a Windows laptop. Purely because the name ‘Pro’ created the perception of power and performance. Not that the M1 chip was a slouch, it isn’t. But it’s also true to say that it isn’t the workstation alternative that the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro’s are. Alas in the technology world, marketing is everything.


Featured Image: Alex Vamos via Unsplash

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