The New MacBook Pros Welcome M1 Chips, MagSafe & Notched Screens

Apple's new high-end MacBook Pros have more ports, charge faster, and come with brand-new M1 chips.

Apple has stepped it up a notch with the new MacBook Pros announced at the October 18 'Unleashed' event. It seems like user feedback was heavily considered with the return of fast MagSafe charging, an SDXC card slot among the many ports, and full-sized function keys rather than a Touch Bar. Other changes include a controversial notch in the screen, a Liquid Retina XDR display, ProMotion, new M1 chips, and many other features!

Related to: Everything Apple Announced at October Event: New MacBook Pros, AirPods 3 & Colorful HomePod Minis

MacBook Pro Prices, Availability & Colors

Pricing

  • 14-inch with M1 Pro Chip starts at $1,999.00
  • 14-inch with M1 Max Chip starts at $3,099.00
  • 16-inch with M1 Pro Chip starts at $2,499.00
  • 16-inch with M1 Max Chip starts at $3,499.00

Availability

  • Pre-order on October 18
  • Available in stores starting October 26

Colors

  • Silver
  • Space Gray
2021 MacBook Pro Specs

2021 MacBook Pro at First Glance

The most notable and shocking change is definitely the notch that looks similar to the new iPhone models. Even though the notch allows for a larger display while housing the camera, many users don't like how it looks. Luckily, the Liquid Retina XDR displays of the new MacBook Pros make Dark Mode look even better, and Dark Mode helps hide what people like me consider to be an eye-sore. Thanks to this notch, the new high-end MacBooks have a larger display with only a 3.5 mm border.

The new MacBook Pros come in two color options: silver and space gray. Plus, they are made out of 100 percent recycled aluminum casing, making strides toward Apple's goal to be more sustainable. I love the eco-friendly aspect, but I'm disappointed that there aren't more color options. However, since I like to protect my devices with cases and skins anyway, I'll still be able to enjoy customizing and bedazzling my MacBook Pro once I get it.

The laptops are available in two sizes. The smaller 14-inch MacBook Pro has a 14.2-inch display, is 15.5 mm thick, and weighs just 3.5 pounds, just 0.7 pounds more than my 2020 M1 MacBook Air! The larger 16-inch MacBook Pro has a 16.2-inch display, is 16.8 mm thick, and weighs 4.7 pounds. Although they are thicker and heavier than their predecessors, they are still sleek and relatively portable, especially compared to some PC laptops.

Instead of a Touch Bar, the new MacBook Pros return to full-sized function keys. Personally, I was hoping that the Touch Bar would stay because I like having more customized options based on the apps I'm currently using. On the other hand, the function keys are incredibly useful and make it easier to navigate more complex apps such as Premiere Pro.

MagSafe for new MacBook Pro

More Ports & MagSafe Charging

Mac users often resort to using dongles and adapters to connect devices to their computers. The new MacBook Pros make it easier to do a lot more without using third-party equipment. 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros have three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, and a MagSafe port. I was a little disappointed that there isn't a slot for micro SD cards, so I'll have to use an adaptor since my GoPro cameras and DJI drone don't support standard SD cards.

The great thing about the additional ports combined with the power of the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips is that you can connect the new MacBook Pros to more devices. A MacBook Pro containing the M1 Pro chip can connect up to two monitors, while the M1 Max can connect up to three monitors and a 4K TV. At the same time, they can connect to other devices via the headphone jack while transferring data using the SDXC slot.

Finally, Apple has also brought back the MagSafe port for MacBook Pros! This means that you can charge these powerful Macs faster, reaching 50 percent of the charge in just 30 minutes. Of course, you can still use the Thunderbolt 4 port to charge your laptop, but the quick-release MagSafe 3 port remains the quickest way to charge, and is safer in case the cord gets tugged on or tripped over. Speaking of battery life, the 14-inch MacBook Pro boasts 17 hours, and the 16-inch version offers 21 hours of video playback. This is great if you want to watch videos on a long flight or need to work remotely and can't snag a table by an outlet.

Liquid Retina Display MacBook Pro

Better Audio, Video, Microphone & Display

MacBook Pros are designed for professional and personal use, and clear audio and video are critical to both. Both size options have a six-speaker sound system, great for watching videos, listening to music, and editing audio and video content. With force-canceling, low-frequency speakers known as woofers and high-frequency speakers known as tweeters, vocals are fuller, the sound is clearer, the range of notes is deeper, and users can enjoy up to 80 percent more bass. 

The new built-in speakers support spatial audio if you are playing music or videos with Dolby Atmos. As someone who often uses a laptop as a portable TV, I am excited to see how this improves my watching experience and if the promised three-dimensional soundstage is truly able to compare to theater-quality viewing. Even if the audio is over-hyped by Apple, I do have high hopes for the Liquid Retina XDR display.

The new MacBook Pros have a Liquid Retina XDR display in both size options. According to Apple, it is the best laptop display ever. With a million-to-one contrast ratio and dynamic range, everything on your screen will look better. Colors will be true to life and more vibrant, and dark colors will remain dark while showing more details in shadows. This is great for anyone who creates or consumes content, including photos, videos, and even games.

Finally, the MacBook Pro is now even better at video calls. You can now enjoy audio recording and transmission with a three-way mic that can capture even the more subtle sounds more clearly. In addition to this, the webcam is now ​​1080p HD and is better in low-light situations. Although I'm excited about these improvements as I regularly record audio and participate in daily video calls, I am still pining for a 4K camera. It would help me film footage for YouTube videos directly on my laptop.

2021 MacBook Pro Specs

2021 MacBook Pro Tech Specs

The most exciting improvement coming to the MacBook Pro line is the new M1 chip. Apple introduced the M1 chip in November 2020. When they first came out, many users considered them a gamble, but time has shown that they majorly outperform previously-used Intel chips. Today, Apple announced an upgrade to the M1 chip: M1 Pro and M1 Max. You can read more about them here.

As expected, many new features boost the performance of the new MacBook Pros. ProMotion, for example, offers refresh rates of 120Hz per second, which makes everything you do on your Mac smoother! The new laptops also have more core power, starting with 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU availability on the base MacBook Pros. Professionals can upgrade up to 32-core GPU, 400 GB/s memory bandwidth, and seven streams of 8K ProRes video playback to accomplish heavy-duty tasks on their new MacBook Pros.

The newly announced MacBook Pros are an exciting addition to the Apple ecosystem. The new chips make these latest laptops work almost well as desktops on many levels. Although the new changes aren't quite as shocking as Apple's Unleashed event paints them to be, we are certainly excited to see them in action. Trying to decide if you should buy the new MacBook Pro now? We can help.

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life who lives in Hawaii. With a BA in International Relations from Anglo American University, Olena traveled the world. She has lived in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China, and the USA. Olena won an excellence award for a controversial article, got a grant to blog from a war-zone, and published a short fictional story. She hopes to publish a full-length novel and continue writing up a storm on her blog The Travel Bug Bite! When she’s not typing or flying, she is loving on animals, crafting bizarre creations, and devouring all-you-can-eat sushi.