While the MacBook Air is tremendously popular, some users need a little bit more. More performance, a bigger battery, more ports, a larger screen…if you need more, you need a MacBook Pro.
Before you spend all that money (often upwards of $2,000) on something you hope to keep and use for years, it's worth asking if this is a good time to buy. In the world of computers, there's always something better on the way, but if it's a lot better and it's coming soon, you might want to wait. Here's what we know about the MacBook Pro and our buying advice.
13-inch MacBook Pro: Pricing and specs
Released: November 2020
Late in 2020, Apple updated the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini with its new M1 processor. We think the M1 MacBook Pro is a great laptop, but we think there's something even better on the way.
The M1 MacBook Pro has the same lackluster webcam (though with much better image processing), the same silver clamshell aluminum body, the same keyboard, the same limited port selection…even the battery size is the same, it just lasts longer with the efficiency of the M1.
It's a great system at a reasonable price, but we're looking forward to a big design change—especially slimmer bezels around the display and a better webcam.
Apple also still sells a 13-inch MacBook Pro with an Intel processor, starting at $1,799. It's almost certainly not worth it for most people. The only real advantage it has over the M1 version is four Thunderbolt ports instead of two.
13-inch MacBook Pro: Why you should buy
If you're interested in a lower-priced 13-inch MacBook Pro, then the M1 chip is a great upgrade. It's faster than the Intel chip it replaced, and it delivers much better battery life. Apple sells it starting at $1,199 but you definitely want to get at least the $1,399 version with a 512GB SSD, and it may be worth upgrading the memory to 16GB since it can't be upgraded later. You can often find it on Amazon for $150 off or more.
13-inch MacBook Pro: Why you should wait
We expect a big update to the MacBook Pro in the fall of 2021. Not only is it expected to feature an M1X processor that's a lot faster than the M1, but also a new design and size as well. If the rumors are true—and there are a lot of them—we're looking at a new 14-inch model, the return of the SD card slot and maybe HDMI port, a MagSafe charger (or some sort of new MagSafe thing), a display with mini-LED backlighting, thinner bezels, and no Touch Bar.
To put it mildly, we may be a few short months away from a massive improvement to the MacBook Pro. We're not sure if the 13-inch model will get a refresh or price cut or get cut from the lineup, so it's worth waiting to see what that is before you drop a big chunk of money on something you'll keep for years.
Macworld recommends: WAIT
A new MacBook Pro is a big investment that typically costs at least $1,500 and often much more. What's more, most people tend to hang on to their laptops longer than their phones—4 or 5 years. So you don't want to buy one if there's a big change on the horizon, and with the MacBook Pro, we think there is.
Unlike the MacBook Air, which is both more affordable and will probably not be updated as soon, the MacBook Pro is a bigger expense with a shorter wait for the new version. So we recommend you wait until the fall of 2021 to see if Apple does unveil a new MacBook Pro as expected before spending all that money.