Apple upgrades 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro 2018 laptops with new Intel chips, but won't quell worries about Mac's future

The guts of the MacBook Pro get a needed upgrade and the keyboard is quieter. But Apple needs to do more to convince us it has some enthusiasm or the Mac portfolio.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Video: Should professionals keep banking on the Mac?

Well at least Apple updated the processors in its 13-inch and 15-inch Touch Bar MacBooks with RAM, storage and battery upgrades.

But that circa 2016 design remains. CNET outlines the details behind Apple MacBook Pro 2018 update, and perhaps the big takeaway is that the 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,799 and the 15-inch begins at $2,399. The rest of the Mac models -- MacBook, MacBook Air -- remain the same for now, pending a larger hardware upgrade plan.

Apple claims that the MacBook Pro 2018 upgrades make the 15-inch version 70-times faster and the 13-inch two-times faster. MacBook Pro models feature the Touch Bar.

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While Apple's update of the guts of the Mac -- not to mention a third generation quieter keyboard -- is nice, the effort is a bit uninspired. In fact, the only thing Apple accomplished was stoking fears that the company is lollygagging with the Mac innovation. After WWDC, the Mac consternation was palpable. Black background was arguably the biggest selling point in Mac OS Mojave. Needless to say, I was wondering what in the Mac was going on.

Read also:Everything you need to know about buying Apple's 2018 MacBook Pro | A full-spec updated 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro will cost you $6,699 | Blackmagic eGPU: The future of the MacBook Pro is having more stuff tethered to it

It's also worth noting that BlackMagic's eGPU system launched with the MacBook Pro 2018 refresh and may be the most interesting item in the news flow. BlackMagic's eGPU features AMD's Radeon Pro.

But Jason Perlow went all the way to Mac hospice.

Perlow outlined why he thinks the Mac platform -- known for ease-of-use, battery life and design -- as we know it is dying. That argument is based on the Mac potentially moving to ARM, a lack of true convergence with iOS and priorities that revolve around other products. Perhaps the iPad Pro replaces the MacBook at some point.

Read also: It's gone! 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro vanishes from Apple Store - CNET

Meanwhile, the lack of compelling features in Mac OS Mojave highlights how Apple's primary software focus lies elsewhere. Has Apple abandoned professional Mac users?

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It's becoming obvious to me that Apple's hardware focus is also elsewhere.

Apple is doing just enough to keep its base on Mac, but is hardly extending itself.

Oh sure, there are predictions that Apple will roll out its hardware refresh in full force with a new iPad Pro, iMac update, and even a Mac mini. But it's likely that Mac updates will be tucked away in the launch that includes the iPhone and Apple Watch. Just like it was at WWDC 2018, the Mac will be a tuck-in afterthought.

Does the Mac malaise matter?

The short answer: Probably not to Mac profitability.

For the quarter ending March 31, Apple's Mac sales were $5.85 billion, flat from a year ago. For the six months ended March 31, Mac sales were $12.74 billion, down 3 percent from the previous year.

The Mac lineup simply isn't updated much. Sure, there are Mac OS tweaks with component upgrades, but touch screens, hybrids and other designs are sorely lacking.

Apple's refreshed MacBook Pro 2018 models: Here's what's new, spec by spec

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Yet, Apple's refresh to the MacBook Pro laptops come as back-to-school season is underway and sets up the Mac for the holiday shopping rush too. The MacBook Pro will also be part of a back-to-school promotion starting today at the Apple Education Store.

It's a safe bet that there will be some pop (assuming there are upgrades for the lower-priced Macs), but remember Apple is driven by iPhone sales primarily with services revenue No. 2 and growing at a rapid clip. Mac sales are larger than the iPad for the six months ended March 31, but Apple has more enthusiasm for its tablet than the device that got the company started.



15-inch MacBook Pro model:

  • Intel Core i7, Core i9
  • Max RAM of 32GB, up from 16GB
  • Radeon Pro discrete graphics with 4GB of video memory
  • Retina Display
  • DDR4 RAM
  • 2TB to 4TB of storage
  • True Tone
  • Third generation keyboard
  • T2 system on chip processor for security features

Read also: Apple boosts performance of 13-, 15-inch MacBook Pros - TechRepublic

13-inch MacBook Pro model gets:

  • Intel Core i5, Core i7
  • 1TB to 2TB of storage
  • Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics 655 with 128MB of eDRAM
  • Retina Display
  • True Tone
  • Third generation keyboard
  • T2 processor

Don't buy these Apple products (July 2018 edition)

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