The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is finally here. It has thinner bezels, a scissor switch “Magic Keyboard,” an improved sound system, and better specs overall. But is that enough for users of the hitherto top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro to upgrade? Or, if you’re thinking about buying a new MacBook, is it worth investing in newly released models or buying the old one at a lower price?
Read on as we compare the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro vs. the new 16-inch model.
Design-wise, both laptops are extremely similar to each other. They have built-in premium finished aluminum with a glass-covered screen, a centralized keyboard with speakers on the sides, and an enormous Force Touch trackpad. Users can pick between silver and space gray finishes.
Nevertheless, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is slightly larger, thicker, and heavier than the previous generation. That should not make much difference to professional users who are generally more concerned about performance. We’ve included the MacBooks’ size and weight specs in detail below.
The display is undoubtedly the most attractive part when looking at the new MacBook Pro. It features a 16-inch screen with a resolution of 3072×1920, which means it’s a higher density panel at 226 pixels-per-inch (PPI). The last generation MacBook Pro has a 15.4-inch display with a resolution of 2880×1800 at 220 PPI.
The bezels of the display are smaller in the newest model, which makes it more pleasant to look at with a modern feel.
Both can reach up to 500 nits of brightness intensity with wide color gamut (P3), and True Tone technology, which adapts the color and intensity of the display to match the ambient light so that images appear more natural.
One discrete difference between them is that the new 16-inch MacBook Pro screen can be configured at different refresh rates in System Preferences. Users can set the rate to 47.95Hz, 48.00Hz, 50.00Hz, 59.94Hz, and 60.00Hz across the system.
Screen changes are not that significant between the two models, but some users, such as photographers, designers, and video editors, should take advantage of the larger size and resolution of the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The keyboard in the 16-inch MacBook Pro has been completely redesigned. After years of problems caused by the butterfly mechanism keyboard in MacBooks, Apple decided to revert the keyboard to the old reliable scissor mechanism.
Apple calls it the “Magic Keyboard” because it was inspired by the company’s wireless keyboard that comes with iMac. The company says the new keyboard features an Apple-designed rubber dome, with 1mm of key travel and a stable feel. It promises a more comfortable typing experience, while also avoiding problems with keys stuck with dust accumulation.
Touch Bar and Touch ID are still there, but Apple decided to put a physical Esc key back on after users’ requests. The new keyboard also features an inverted T arrow key arrangement for better navigation in some apps, just like the old 2015 MacBook Pro.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro still has a butterfly keyboard that, although in its third generation, it still has some issues. It is worth remembering that all MacBooks with a butterfly keyboard are part of Apple’s free replacement program.
Those who had problems or are afraid of the butterfly keyboard should prefer the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Performance is certainly the most important aspect for professional users. The two laptops do very well on the base models, with some incremental speed gains on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Just like the 15-inch model, the 16-inch MacBook Pro starts with a 2.6GHz (Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz) 6‑core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor.
Both come with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, but the new one has a clock speed of 2666MHz versus 2400MHz in the previous generation. The built-in SSD in the 15-inch base model offers only 256GB of storage, while the new one comes with 512GB. In the graphics, the 15-inch model uses the AMD Radeon Pro 555X GPU with 4GB of GDDR5, and the 16-inch gets an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6.
The differences are most noticeable in the more expensive models of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which offers more customization options. Customers can customize it with up to 64GB of RAM, 8TB of SSD storage, a 2.4GHz (Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz) 8‑core Intel Core i9 processor, and AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU with 8GB of GDDR6.
Since the 15-inch MacBook Pro is no longer officially sold by Apple, its maximum configuration is that of its most expensive predefined model. It offers a 2.3GHz (Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz) 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, a Radeon Pro 560X GPU with 4GB of GDDR5, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and 512GB SSD storage.
For those who already have the previous base model, the 16-inch MacBook Pro only delivers more performance by choosing an option with better CPU, graphics, and RAM.
I/O and connectivity
Nothing changes here between the 15-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Both have four USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 for fast connections up to 40Gb/s and a headphone jack. The two models also share an 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0 connections.
The new 16-inch MacBook Pro still has a 720p resolution FaceTime HD front camera, but now with a “studio‑quality” three-mic array with high signal-to-noise ratio and directional beamforming. Apple has also enhanced the sound system in the new MacBook Pro with high‑fidelity six‑speakers that offers Dolby Atmos support.
The battery now lasts up to 11 hours for wireless web use, compared to 10 hours on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is certainly an exciting upgrade. The larger display should be appreciated by professional users, as well as the keyboard that was finally fixed. However, if you already have a recent 15-inch MacBook Pro model, you may not need to replace it now.
Keep in mind that performance gains may not be as noticeable to those who are coming from the previous 15-inch base model. But if you want a MacBook Pro with upgraded RAM, better graphics, and larger storage options, the 16-inch model is definitely a better choice.
It’s still possible to find the 15-inch MacBook Pro in some stores with lower prices, so it might be interesting for those who don’t care about the new features in the 16-inch model. If you want the latest and greatest MacBook, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is available direct from Apple’s website, starting at $2,399.