A scant few weeks after the launch of Apple’s M2-powered MacBook Pro, retailers are offering discounts of up to $200 on the new macOS laptop. Does this mean the entry-level MacBook Pro is worth considering, even with its flaws?
As with almost every computer on the market, the M2 MacBook Pro is going to be able to deliver the basics; a solid web browser to work with almost every online service you can think of, tools for reading, creating, and editing office documents, social network clients for the likes Slack and Discord, and so on.
The recently announced and time-limited offers at US retailer Best Buy take the entry-level 256 GB M2 MacBook Pro to $1099 and the 512 GB model to $1299. With the broadly equivalent M2 MacBook Air models priced at $1199 and $1499, has Best Buy signalled where the 13-inch MacBook Pro belongs in the portfolio?
It feels that way to me. The M2 MacBook Pro remains a throwback to the Intel designs of 2016; you have a screen with expansive bezels, a lack of I/O ports, the technically impressive but almost dead-on-arrival Touch Bar, and more. There’s a feeling that Apple’s product team has done little more than move from Intel to Apple Silicon and said “that’ll do” before focusing on the rest of the MacBook portfolio.
Yet Apple has kept this consumer-focused MacBook Pro around for at least another two years, sitting awkwardly between the consumers’ MacBook Air and the professionals’ MacBook Pro.
It should deliver more performance than the MacBook Air thanks to the active cooling of the M2 chipset, but it still falls short of the M1 Pro and M1 Max in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models from 2021. It should offer better value for money than the larger MacBook pro models, but it’s the MacBook Air that carries the new design cues and modern touches, not the smaller MacBook Pro.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro does have a space in terms of marketing, though. It’s clearly not a “professional’” MacBook Pro in the way the 14-inch and 16-inch models are, but it does put a MacBook Pro branded laptop within easier reach of consumers. While the MacBook Air under Apple Silicon does tick all the boxes, there will always be a group who will want the “Pro” branding as part of the experience… Even if other options are superior, they’ll pay for the name.
Would the 13-inch MacBook Pro deliver for you in day-to-day use? Almost certainly. Would any of Apple’s other MacBook laptops deliver a better experience in performance, portability, and potential? Yes. The M2 MacBook Pro may be discounted, but that doesn’t change the fact that Apple offers far more value to the macOS user-base with every other laptop.