Review of new MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020) Much easier to recommend thanks to the revised keyboard

Check out our review of the new MacBook Pro 13-inch model (2020) recently announced by Apple.

Engadget JP (Translation)
Engadget JP (Translation) , @Engadget_MT
2020年05月16日, 午後 03:16 in Apple
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MacBook Pro
The main feature of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is its new scissor mechanism Magic Keyboard, which replaces the infamous butterfly keyboard. Premium models also feature the latest 10th generation Intel Core i processor, integrated high-speed graphics from the Iris Plus, and high-speed 16GB LPDDR4X memory.

The SSD capacity of all models has been doubled, with RAM also doubled in the premium models, while pricing in Japan is between 5,000 yen and 12,000 yen cheaper than before.

Breaking News: New 13-inch MacBook Pro Has Been Announced. Features A 10th-Generation CPU and Scissor-switch Magic Keyboard

Here we present a digest from the English-language edition. The new MacBook Pro was reviewed by Dana Wollman, Editor of the US Edition of Engadget. Having started out at Laptop Mag, she specializes in reviewing notebook computers.

Pros
  • Much-improved keyboard
  • Bright and colorful display
  • Apple doubled the base storage
  • Healthy battery life
Cons
  • Bottom side can get hot
  • You have to buy at least the 188,800 yen model to get the 10th-gen Intel processors
  • Does not have USB-A ports and the SD card reader
  • Still not feeling the Touch Bar

Summary
Following on from the 2020 MacBook Air and last year's 16-inch MacBook Pro, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro features a revised Magic Keyboard. This means the butterfly design, which had a poor reputation because of input errors and other failures.

In addition to a more comfortable keystroke, other good points include improved graphic performance, healthy battery life, and the same beautiful Retina display as previous models.

With a few points excluded, the new MacBook Pro is a strong choice as a high-end laptop. (Bad points include heat from the bottom side that can be felt on one's lap when running high-intensity work, and the reliance on USB-C with a lack of USB-A port for devices that pro users often use.)

MacBook Pro

Magic Keyboard

  • Scissor mechanism Magic Keyboard has been adopted instead of the butterfly design keyboard which, despite frequent attempted improvements, had a poor reputation because of its feel when typing and input errors, etc.
  • The new keyboard doesn't feel like the keys are sticking to the bottom, and its depth of travel (1 mm) immediately sets it apart from the last-gen model.
  • The new Magic Keyboard feels more substantial, even if it doesn't have the same satisfying clackiness as pre-butterfly keyboards, but on the other hand the new keys aren't as wobbly as those older ones, so you get a stable and comfortable typing experience. This is due to two things: a rubber dome that sits just below the keycap, and a design that locks the scissor mechanism into the keycap at the top of the stroke.
  • Between this review and the MacBook Air that came out earlier this spring, I've twice now had to switch back to my work Mac after testing a newer one. It's been a letdown every time.
  • The new MBP features the so-called inverted-T arrow button layout, where the right and left buttons are half as tall as the up-and-down button stack, but I have accidentally pressed the forward slash button a few times when I meant to hit the left arrow.


Display and Touch Bar

  • Interfaces are basically the same as the last-gen model. I still miss having at least one full-sized USB port, not to mention an SD card reader. It's crazy that a machine aimed at creative professionals using peripherals, cameras, and memory cards, etc. wouldn't have these things built in.
  • I'd prefer a row of physical function keys to the Touch Bar, but I've mostly made my peace with it. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the upper-right corner is quick to set up and works reliably.
  • I have a tendency to accidentally hit the Touch Bar's mute button. And then I might not notice until I wonder why I can't hear anyone on my call.

MacBook Pro
  • The display and resolution are the same as those of the Air, but the Pro has support for the P3 color gamut and a brighter 500-nit display (the Air only goes up to 400 nits). This is handy when working near the window on a sunny day or for games, etc.
  • It's a very nice screen. My only concern is that if someone buys the 13-inch Pro now only for Apply to come out with a more substantially redesigned 14.1-inch MacBook Pro not long after (as rumored), they might feel cheated. Then again, one never knows what Apple will do. We've been waiting for an Apple television set and electric car for years now.

MacBook Pro

Performance and battery life

  • Only two of the four models feature the drastic performance improvement of the 10-generation Core i processors. These models start at around 180,000 yen.
  • The up to 80% faster graphics are also available only on the two higher-end models. (Compared with Iris Plus Graphics 655)
  • Memory speed is also different in the lower and higher-end models. 2133MHz LPDDR3 vs 3733MHz LPDDR4X
  • The lower-end models will be adequate for most users, but the "maximum" performance improvements Apple is touting are usually referring to the higher-end models. If you're planning to use intensive applications, you should test the two higher-end models. An even faster Core i7 can also be selected if you customize it.
  • In Geekbench 5, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro logged 1,202 for single-core performance and 4,384 for multi-core
  • In our 4K encoding test, wherein we transcode the same minute-long 4K trailer to HD using Handbrake, the 13-inch MBP got the job done in 1:26 while the Galaxy Book Flex (which has the same generation of processor and same amount of RAM) was around the 2-minute mark.
  • However, even the higher-end models of the 13-inch Pro max out at Intel Iris Plus graphics, so if you have a particular need for GPU performance, you'll need to opt for the 15-inch MBP (for which you can select a discreet GPU) or a Windows laptop.
  • Fortnite ran smoothly without any problems on low settings with a frame-rate limit of 60FPS, although the fans definitely started to pipe up.
  • In real-world use, the Pro had no problem handling my workload, which includes multiple Chrome windows and tabs, plus Spotify, Notes, Photos, Messages, and video calls on different platforms.
  • When it comes to battery life, Apple promises up to 10 hours each of wireless web usage and Apple TV video playback, the same claims it made with the last-gen model.
  • In our standard video rundown test, my machine managed 11 hours and 33 minutes. Not the 13 hours or more you can expect from competing machines like the Galaxy Book Flex and Dell XPS 13, but still pretty good.

MacBook Pro

The competition

Here's what we think you'll be cross-shopping (or should be!) if you're considering shelling out 130,000 yen-plus for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro:
  • Microsoft Surface Book 3 ($1,699 / from 198,000 yen plus tax in Japan): This is available in 13.5- and 15-inch sizes. The starting price is higher than the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, but if it's a 10th-gen Intel processor you're after, Microsoft undercuts Apple (Note: Due to differences such as standard inclusion of Office, Surface is still 2,000 yen more expensive in Japan). The Surface Book 3 also touts longer battery life (up to 15.5 hours) and it has a detachable touchscreen and pen. Even the cheapest model has the same Iris Plus GPU that is only found in the higher-end MacBook Pro. And in higher-end configs there's a step up to a GeForce GTX1650. However, it weighs slightly heavier (1.4 kg vs 1,534 g to 1,642 g).
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 ($1,000-plus / from 139,480 yen): Whereas Microsoft's Surface Book has a removable screen, the Surface Laptop line is more of a conventional laptop. Even the entry-level Surface Laptop has a 10th-generation Core i processor and Iris Plus graphics together with relatively fast memory, but storage starts from 128GB. While a discreet AMD GPU config can be selected for the 15-inch model, RAM maxes out at 16GB. Lightweight (1,265 g to 1,288 g).
  • Dell XPS 13: The latest edition of Dell's XPS 13 has a 10th-gen Core i5 processor even in its most basic configuration. With the same memory and SSD as the 13-inch MacBook Pro, even with Iris Plus graphics, the XPS has the upper hand. The model without touch support weighs only 1.2 kg, and even the touch model is still light at 1.27 kg, while battery life is excellent. It managed around 16 hours in the same video test we used in our review.


Wrap-up

  • The keyboard (one of our biggest complaints with the last-gen model) has been addressed. Now, the smaller MBP is much easier to recommend.
  • Depending on how you're going to use it, there's enough of a performance increase to justify choosing the new MBP over the MacBook Air.
  • The case for choosing the 13-inch MBP over a competing Windows machine will be tougher, at least for someone who's open to using either OS. There are several strong options in the same price range, including machines that feature the 10th-gen Core i processors in their entry-level configs, dual-use tablets, and machines that support pens and feature discreet graphics with long battery life and lightweight forms.
  • For shoppers who have been holding out for a new MacBook Pro with a more usable keyboard, you can upgrade now, confident you're making a good choice.
  • For folks in the market for a portable machine with decent graphics and long battery life, the 13-inch Pro is just one of several strong options available right now.
Apple MacBook Pro review (13-inch, 2020) - Engadget US

If you can Afford the Extra 20,000 yen then go for the MacBook Pro. Why I Prefer the 8th Gen Pro Over the 10th Gen Air

This article was originally written in Japan. The images and content are as they were in Japan at the time of writing.
 
 

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