Thursday, 12 March 2015

Retina Macbook Pro 2015 Reviews

The Retina MacBook Pro 2015 was quickly announced during Apple's 9 March Spring Forward Apple Watch event, alongside updates to the MacBook Air and the 13in MacBook Pro, and an all-new, pretty amazing New MacBook, which you can read about in our New MacBook round-up article here.
Read all the details of the night's announcements with our Apple Watch event live blog, or read on for the specifics of the updated MacBook Pro.
New 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro (early 2015) preview
New Retina MacBook Pro 2015 release date, specs and UK price

New 2015 Retina MacBook Pro: The basics

At the Apple Watch launch event on 9 March 2015, Apple also updated its laptop line: it unveiled a whole new line of 12-inch notebooks (seemingly referred to as just New MacBook, confusingly), and more briefly announced refreshes to the Pro and Air MacBook lines. 
There's a reason why Apple spent less time on the new MacBook Pro than on that 12-inch notebook: the Pro's update is far less radical and, if we're honest, far less exciting. (It also affects the 13-inch MacBook Pro only: the 15-inch MacBook Pro is the same as before.) But it's a solid and widely hoped-for refresh of a strong laptop line.
"The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest processors, more powerful graphics, faster flash, longer battery life and the all-new Force Touch trackpad," said Phil Schiller. Let's look at these updates in more detail.
New Retina MacBook Pro 2015 release date, specs and UK price
Above: the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro (which hasn't been updated) and the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro (which gets a bunch of updates)

New 2015 Retina MacBook Pro: Specs

Whereas the New MacBook gets a radical new physical design (it's super-slim; it has an edge-to-edge keyboard and a new trackpad; and, most disconcertingly, it has only two ports: headphone on one side and a universal USB Type C port on the other, which will have to handle power charging and connecting to any peripherals), the new MacBook Pro is much the same as the previous generation in terms of design. The changes in the 2015 MacBook Pro are under the hood.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro gets a new processor chip - the line gets access to fifth-gen Intel Core processors with standard speeds up to 3.1 GHz and Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.4GHz - and Intel Iris Graphics 6100. And its flash memory is twice as fast, with claimed throughput of up to 1.6GBps.
Apple also claims that battery life is longer: the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro now delivers up to 10 hours of general use or up to 12 hours of iTunes movie playback, the company says.
Finally, as mentioned above the new MacBook Pro only comes with a 13-inch screen; the 15-inch MacBook Pro is still on sale but hasn't been updated.
Apple MacBook laptop reviews

New 2015 Retina MacBook Pro: Design

There is one change to the physical design of this year's Retina MacBook Pro: it too gets the Force Touch trackpad that we saw on the new 12-inch MacBook notebook.
According to Apple's press release, this will make all the difference to your day-to-day computing experience:
"The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display features the all-new Force Touch trackpad that brings a new dimension of interactivity to the Mac. The new trackpad features built-in force sensors that allow you to click anywhere and haptic feedback that provides a responsive and uniform feel. You can even customise the feel of the trackpad by changing the amount of pressure needed to register each click. The Force Touch trackpad also enables a new gesture called Force Click, a click followed by a deeper press, for tasks like pulling up the definition of a word, quickly seeing a map or glancing at a preview of a file."
New Retina MacBook Pro 2015: Force Touch trackpad
In other words, it's sensitive to different degrees of touch - you can press harder to speed up the fast-forward command on a video player, for instance. Needless to say, we can't wait to try this out.

New 2015 Retina MacBook Pro: UK prices

As usual with Apple laptops - and indeed laptops in general - prices vary widely depending on the specification you go for. There are three basic starting configurations:
  • 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost speed up to 3.1 GHz), 8GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage: starts at £999. View on Apple Store
  • 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz), 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage: starts at £1,199. View on Apple Store
  • 2.9GHz Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz), 8GB of memory and 512GB of flash storage: starts at £1,399. View on Apple Store
Configure-to-order options include a faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processor up to 3.1GHz (Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.4 GHz), up to 16GB of memory and flash storage up to 1TB.
These prices are pretty much what we would have expected, given the prices of the old range:
  • 13in Retina MacBook Pro, 2.6GHz (dual-core i5), 128GB, £999
  • 13in Retina MacBook Pro, 2.6GHz (dual -core i5), 256GB, £1,199
  • 13in Retina MacBook Pro, 2.8GHz (dual -core i5), 512GB, £1,399