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Hands on with the new 16-inch M1 Apple MacBook Pro

First impressions of Apple's new MacBook Pro aimed at creatives. Does it live up to the hype?

I've had the new 16-inch M1 Apple MacBook Pro in my possession for two hours, five minutes, so these are fresh "out of the box" thoughts on Apple's newest laptop.

For reference, this is replacing a 2018 MacBook Pro that I've had for a few years. The old system has been a workhorse, traveling with me to multiple countries, putting in many hundreds of hours of work. I've written hundreds of thousands of words on the keyboard, taken thousands of screenshots, and processed countless photos and videos.

It deserves a retirement.

And here is the machine that's replacing it.

First look: 16-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro

On first picking it out of the box, I noticed that almost everything feels different about this new MacBook Pro. The angular design is gone, replaced with smooth, rounded corners. This offsets the fact that this notebook feels significantly heavier and thicker than the 2018 model, but not in a way that feels off-putting.

But this is definitely a chunkier machine.

For about an hour of the now two hours and 12 minutes that this laptop has been in my possession, it was carrying out a data migration. One thing that I couldn't fail to notice was how quiet the M1 Pro MacBook Pro is alongside its Intel older brother.

The fan didn't kick on once.

It didn't need to because the laptop was nice and cool, unlike the older Intel-powered unit that was starting to sweat. With my data copied over, I took it for a spin.

The Mac migration experience is not the nicest or smoothest when you have apps installed that require online activation (such as Adobe Creative Cloud), so the first few minutes are always ugly. However, with that out of the way, I could start to play.

The screen is stunning. By far the nicest display I've seen on a laptop. Colors are rich, the blacks are deep, and the whites clean.

And as far as the notch is concerned, I didn't even notice it until I thought about taking a photo of it. After 2 hours 25 minutes of use, I've forgotten about it

The keyboard, while being a little different, is nice and responsive. The keys feel solid and positive when typing.

The trackpad is firm and responsive, with the force feedback haptics giving plenty of feedback.

MagSafe is amazing. It's nice to have it back, although in the time of owning a USB-C charging MacBook Pro, I did get used to charging it on the right-hand side.

Performance is also amazing. Even with 16GB of RAM, the M1 Pro MacBook hums along much smoother than the 2018 version it is replacing. I'll have a better idea of comparative performance once I start doing real work on this machine, but everything I've thrown at it so far it has dealt with effortlessly. I'm impressed at how fast apps such as Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro load up on the M1 Pro, and how little they seem to affect battery life.

So far, I've not heard the fan come on once. This might change when I do real work on this machine, but I've been busy updating apps and running lots of apps concurrently, and so far, not a peep from the fan.

Battery life is unbelievable. I'm now 2 hours 40 minutes into using the MacBook Pro, and I pulled it off charge about an hour ago, and it is still fully charged.

I'm starting to wonder if the charge meter is working.

All in all, this feels like a proper upgrade to a proper pro machine. Having more ports, having MagSafe, and having proper F-keys instead of that Touch Bar makes this feel like a machine that's capable of doing some serious work. I've not started tapping into what the M1 Pro chip can do, but I'll tell you now that I'm looking forward to putting it t the test over the coming weeks and months.

Editorial standards


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