Forget the new MacBook Pro, Apple has something much better

Updated April 30: Article originally published April 29.

Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference will see the launch of new MacBook laptops in the already crowded family of macOS hardware. Part of that family is the inexplicable 13-inch MacBook Pro, which offers more power than MacBook Air laptops at a cheaper price than larger MacBook Pro laptops.

But this is a false economy. Apple can still sell you a 13-inch MacBook Pro, but it’s not a laptop you should consider, even if it picks up the upgrade due in June.

Update: Sunday, April 30: Ahead of some of the new consumer-focused MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models arriving, presumably around WWDC, Apple has another quirk to consider. One of the few arguments to buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro over the Air is the 20% increase in processing power… that’s a small step considering how far the M2 Pro and M2 Max chipsets have come in the larger MacBook Pro models, and one that’s probably not cost-effective.

Apple is preparing to offer another option for those looking for power on a budget, with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models set to appear in the refurbished section of the Apple Store at a steep discount on the price. Reports by Joe Rossignol.

“The latest 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are available with either M2 Pro or M2 Max chips, delivering up to 20% faster performance and up to 30% faster graphics compared to the previous generation. Laptops can be configured with up to 96 GB of RAM, up from 64 GB previously.”

Assuming Apple launches a new 13-inch MacBook Pro at WWDC in June. Would you like it? Does it offer advantages in terms of price, size or power?

The obvious comparison is with the rest of the MacBook Pro family. These certainly have some of the best specs in the entire macOS platform right now. Coupled with the larger screens, the M2 Pro and m2 Max chipsets will likely outperform the base M3 chipset when it arrives. This makes these laptops quite upgradable if your key consideration is power.

If power isn’t your thing, how about size?

The tiny 13-inch consumer MacBook Pro simply can’t meet those demands, as it matches the screen size of today’s MacBook Air models. The larger-screen MacBook Pro machines are the only macOS laptops with screens larger than the 13-inch standard. While Windows laptops have thankfully offered large screens in user-friendly designs, Apple has proven to be a stubborn holdout. That’s set to change at WWDC with the launch of the 15-inch MacBook Air, allowing Tim Cook and his team to deliver a large laptop at a more attractive price.

If not size, what about budget?

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is more expensive than the current MacBook Air. For that $100 price increase, you get a small power boost (most of which is due to the cooling fan that helps control CPU temperature than any physical hardware upgrade) and the word “Pro” on the machine. And as already discussed, if you want power, you don’t stop there, you go higher.

The current $1,199 M2-powered MacBook Air offers a noticeable saving over the 13-inch MacBook Pro. If you really want to work the budget, then Apple is still selling the M1-powered MacBook Air, the macOS laptop that tore up the laptop specs rulebook, for $999. It has the flexibility to meet most consumer demands and remains the cheapest MacBook laptop available.

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro and its M2 chipset continue to be a mysterious choice. It doesn’t offer the best value for money, it doesn’t offer any exciting hardware, and it doesn’t offer a realistic upgrade for those who need power. Still, Apple should still upgrade this machine to the M3 chipset and sell it with a straight face.

Do yourself a favor. When Apple releases this new MacBook Pro, look elsewhere.

Now read the latest Mac, iPhone and iPad headlines in Forbes’ weekly Apple Loop column…

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