Apple Debuts Thinner, Lighter MacBook Pros With Touch Bar, Quad Thunderbolt 3 Ports, Radeon Pro Graphics

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After an unusual (for Apple) leak earlier this week, Apple today unveiled its brand new MacBook Pro family. Still available in both 13-inch and 15-inch varieties, the new MacBook Pros are thinner and lighter than their predecessors -- the 13-inch and 15-inch models now weigh three pounds and four pounds respectively, shedding half a pound each.

The MacBook Pro’s touchpad is now twice as large and the notebooks incorporate a second generation butterfly switch mechanism for the keyboard (the 12-inch MacBook introduced us to the first generation butterfly mechanism) for more responsive keys.

But what everyone wants to know about is the OLED panel above the keys, which takes the place of the function keys. Called the Touch Bar, it’s a multi-touch Retina display that dynamically morphs depending on the application you’re currently using. You’ll find dedicated controls (by default) for Siri, volume, brightness, etc. And if you want the old function keys, included ESC, they can be called upon at will.

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But where the real magic occurs is when you open apps. In Mail, you’ll find options for Reply/Reply All/Forward along with formatting options (Bold/Italics/color), QuickType and even emojis (if you’re into that). Safari has its own use for the Touch Bar, allowing you to easily navigate through your tabs, access your favorites, or even navigate (Back/Forward/Refresh/etc). As you might expect, Touch Bar’s uses extend to other apps including Photos,

In all, this seems like Apple’s latest effort to further morph iOS hardware with Mac hardware. From multi-touch displays to excessive use of swiping gestures and Touch ID, the iPhone influence is hard to ignore. And in case you were wondering, the Touch Bar is customizable, allowing you to tailor it whatever your needs are depending on the apps you use and how you interact with your MacBook Pro.

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A second generation Touch ID sensor, which is covered in sapphire and backed by an Apple T1 chip with a secure enclave, resides beside the Touch Bar. You can of course use it to make secure purchases through Safari and to start/login to your Mac.

The display in the 15-inch MacBook Pro is 67 percent brighter, 67 percent higher contrast ratio, and displays 25 percent more colors than its predecessor. Inside, you’ll find Skylake-based quad-core Core i7 processor (sorry, Kaby Lake fans), AMD Radeon Pro graphics based on Polaris architecture, and up to 2TB of solid state storage.

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13-inch MacBook Pro

The 13-inch MacBook Pro, on the other hand, is available with dual-core Core i5 or Core i7 processors. As with previous generations of 13-inch MacBook Pros, you’ll find integrated Intel graphics (in this case, Intel Iris Graphics with 64GB eDRAM).

Both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros come with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which is a big plus considering that the 12-inch MacBook only came with a single USB-C port. And just so you know, any of the four Thunderbolt 3 ports can be used to charge the notebook.

macbook specs

The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro will start from $1,799 and $2,399 respectively. Apple will also make a cheaper version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro that lacks Touch ID, comes with traditional function keys and just two Thunderbolt 3 ports. This is aimed at folks that have traditionally favored the MacBook Air (which will still be produced) and will be priced from $1,499.