Phil Schiller Claims MacBook Pro Limited To 16GB Over Battery Life Concerns

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Apple announced a new family of MacBook Pro notebooks yesterday, but as with any new release from the Cupertino, California crew, the announcement was fraught with controversy. For starters, Apple has implemented its butterfly key mechanism for the keyboard (which many had a love/hate relationship with on the 12-inch MacBook) in order to make the notebook thinner.

Some also griped that Apple decided to go with AMD Polaris GPUs instead of Pascal-based mobile GPUs from NVIDIA. Others were quite alarmed at the high price of entry, with the cheapest 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Touch Bar coming in at $1,799 and $2,399 respectively. Apple does offer a cheaper 13-inch MacBook Pro for $1,499, but it doesn’t come with the Touch Bar and loses two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

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But perhaps the biggest gripe from Apple enthusiasts is that even in fully loaded trims, none of the new MacBook Pros can be configured with greater than 16GB of RAM. 16GB is a rather interesting limitation for what is supposed to be a “professional” device, so one Apple fan decided to fire off an email to Apple support for some answers:

The lack of a 32GB BTO option for the new MBPs raised some eyebrows and caused some concerns (me included). Does ~3GBps bandwidth to the SSD make this a moot issue? I.e. memory paging on a 16GB system is so fast that 32GB is not a significant improvement?

A response came back, and it was from none other than Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller:

Thank you for the email. It is a good question. To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook. I hope you check out this new generation MacBook Pro, it really is an incredible system.

It’s interesting that Schiller brings up the battery life argument, when Apple — in its never-ending quest to make its devices thinner — actually drastically reduced the battery capacity of the new MacBook Pros. The 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro had a 99.5 WHr battery, while its 2016 counterpart has a 76 WHr battery. Likewise, the 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has seen its battery capacity reduced from 74.9 WHr to just 49 WHr. Even the 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar has a 54.5 WHr battery.

Perhaps Schiller should try shifting some blame to Apple’s thinness crusade for its inability to offer a 32GB RAM option.