Apple MacBook Pro 2020 13-inch Review: Best Portable Business Laptop

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  • Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro now comes with the company’s revamped Magic Keyboard, which solves its biggest drawback.
  • It replaces Apple’s Butterfly keyboard, which feels flatter and stiffer in comparison and has been prone to malfunction.
  • Overall, the MacBook Pro is a solid choice for Mac fans who are looking to get some serious work done, but don’t want a laptop as big as the 16-inch Pro.
  • However, you’ll have to spend the extra money to get the latest processors from Intel, which come standard on most competing Windows machines.

The latest generation of Apple laptops may look the same as their predecessors, but they’ve gotten their biggest improvement in recent years: a new keyboard that’s more comfortable, less prone to damage, and much quieter than those found on Apple notebooks. in the past five years.

This is true across the board now that Apple has released its revamped 13-inch MacBook Pro, which like the new MacBook Air and 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with the new Magic Keyboard. This keyboard, which first arrived on the MacBook Pro last year, is inspired by the company’s famous desktop keyboard of the same name.

There is little else new in 13-inch MacBook Pro, except for the ability to upgrade to the latest Intel processors in the most expensive configuration and more storage at the base level.

The new MacBook Pro looks like a small update intended to smooth out Apple’s magic keyboard across its range rather than a leap forward for Apple’s pro-grade laptop. The Butterfly keyboard was one of the main drawbacks of the 13-inch Pro over its predecessors until now, meaning the new version no longer feels like a potentially risky purchase.

However, the introduction of the new MacBook Air in March presents another compelling option for Apple fans in the market for a new 13-inch laptop. Overall, the 13-inch Pro is better suited to those willing to spend more for the additional processing and graphics power the Pro has to offer. Unfortunately, the smaller-sized Pro is missing out on some of the 16-inch model’s standout features, such as its booming speakers and studio-quality microphones.

Here’s a closer look at what it was like to use the new 13-inch MacBook Pro.

MacBook Pro 13-inch 2020 specifications

  • Screen size and resolution: 13.3-inch Retina display with 2,560 x 1,600 resolution
  • Processor options:
    • 1.4 GHz quad-core 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor configurable up to 1.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
    • 2GHz quad-core 10th Gen Intel Core i5 configurable up to 2.3GHz quad-core 10th Gen Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB (for 10th Gen high-end Intel models)
  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB and 1TB with options to configure up to 2TB on the low end and 4TB on the high end
  • Graphics options: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 or Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Ports: 2 USB-C ports or 4 USB-C ports (for 10th Gen high-end Intel models)
  • Camera: 720p FaceTime camera

Display, design and audio

For 2020, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has the same uniform aluminum design that has become a staple of Apple laptops in recent years. As was the case with its predecessor, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is thin and light enough to fit comfortably in a backpack or business bag when traveling. But, of course, it’s not as light as the MacBook Air, as the name suggests. It’s also a bit heavier than Dell’s XPS 13. The MacBook Pro weighs 3.1 pounds, while the Air weighs 2.8 pounds and the Dell XPS 13 weighs 2.64 pounds.

The MacBook Pro has a 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution Retina display, which is the same sharpness as the MacBook Air. The biggest difference between Pro and Air is the Pro’s support for the P3 wide color gamut, while the Air supports full standard color, also known as sRGB. This means the Pro can display a wider color spectrum than the Air, but it will likely only matter if you’re a professional photo or video editor.

This version of the MacBook Pro features high dynamic range stereo speakers with wide stereo sound, making them ideal for watching movies and listening to music. It won’t get loud enough to power a party, but it’s more than enough to double as a home speaker in a small space. Compared to the MacBook Air, which lacks the Pro’s high dynamic range, the music sounds slightly more full-bodied.

The best audio, however, can be found on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which has a more powerful high-fidelity six-speaker sound system with force-canceling woofers. I’m not an audiophile, but the loud laptop sound system ended up being one of my favorite things about the 16-inch MacBook Pro when I tried it last year. It makes me envy that it’s not available on the 13-inch model, although I can imagine that putting a more powerful sound system into a more compact computer would be a challenge.

When it comes to video chat, it’s best to rely on your iPhone when you can. The new MacBook Pro, like the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the new MacBook Air, and many Windows laptops, is equipped with a 720p resolution webcam. This may have been easily overlooked in the past, but at a time when many people have been working from home for months and socializing through video, the lack of quality built-in webcams has become more apparent.

The 720p webcam on the MacBook Pro is sufficient for video calling, but I notice some graininess and noise. This is especially true when compared to FaceTime calling on the iPhone SE, which has a 7-megapixel front camera capable of 1080p video recording which enables clearer video calling.



If there’s one thing you should know about the differences between the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro and the newer model, it’s the latter’s new keyboard. The revamped Magic Keyboard represents a complete redesign from the one found on its predecessor, which feels flat and superficial compared to the new iteration.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the new keyboard is exactly like what you should get from a premium laptop like the MacBook Pro. For what you’re paying, you shouldn’t have to compromise with a keyboard that feels stiff and lacking in depth. Or worse yet, numerous customers and technical reviewers have reported cases where the keys simply didn’t work properly in the past few years since the Butterfly keyboard was introduced in 2015.

Apple has launched a free keyboard repair program to target customers with affected machines, but has now taken the boldest step of ditching the Butterfly mechanism entirely.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro also has the Touch Bar just like its predecessor and the 16-inch model, one of the main features that sets it apart from the MacBook Air. The Touch Bar still feels a little free – it’s nice to have it, especially now that you don’t have to pay extra, but you don’t necessarily need it. I have occasionally found it useful for browsing tabs in Safari, but I don’t find myself using it for other shortcuts.

Performance and battery life

The performance of the MacBook Pro, aside from the Touch Bar, is the most important factor that sets it apart from the MacBook Air. All models are equipped with a quad-core processor with a higher clock speed than the Air, which has an entry-level dual-core processor. The higher-end variants of the MacBook Air also run on processors with a lower clock speed than the MacBook Pro. A processor with more cores generally means it is better equipped to juggle more tasks.

What is perplexing, however, is Apple’s decision to keep Intel’s eighth-generation processors – the same previous-generation chips that Intel originally announced in 2017 – in the base model. If you want to buy a model that runs on the latest Intel processors that have become the standard for most competing laptops, you’ll have to go for the more expensive $ 1,800 configuration.

Meanwhile, several Windows competitors are offering 10th Gen Intel chips in machines that cost hundreds of dollars less. Dell’s XPS 13, for example, arrives a $ 1,100 configuration which has a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 chip (and a lower resolution display than the MacBook Pro), while the HP Specter x360 13t is also available a $ 1,200 configuration with a 10th Generation Intel Core i7 processor. That model also has a lower resolution screen than the MacBook Pro, but it does come with support for touch input.

For this review, I tested the $ 1,800 MacBook Pro with a 10th Gen Intel processor, and it runs as smooth and fast as you’d expect. They are able to regularly open dozens of web browser tabs throughout the workday without overloading the machine and sending fans buzzing, as is usually the case when using the thinnest 2020 MacBook Air.

Sometimes, my MacBook Pro unit gets a little noisy before quickly quieting down when I have more than 20 tabs open, but that was the exception rather than the norm. For what it’s worth, I had a very similar experience with Dell’s XPS 13, which at times felt stressed after opening nearly two dozen tabs but recovered quickly.

The performance difference between the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air is also noticeable when gaming. While playing “Tomb Raider” at its maximum resolution on both systems, I noticed that the graphics looked a bit smoother and smoother on the MacBook Pro than on the MacBook Air.

The MacBook Pro’s battery life is a bit shorter than Apple’s claims of 10 hours, but it’s still enough to get through a full working day. In my experience, the laptop lasts about eight hours before you need to plug it in, but it’s important to remember that battery life always varies depending on factors like screen brightness and the types of programs you’re running.

The bottom line

Lisa Eadicicco / Business Insider

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is somewhere in between the Apple laptop range: it offers more power than the less expensive MacBook Air in a design that’s just as portable, while the more expensive 16-inch Macbook Pro is more suitable for those looking for for greater desktop replacement.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro isn’t a major upgrade, but the addition of the much improved Magic Keyboard finally makes the 13-inch Pro worth recommending again.

Should you buy it?

Apple’s new MacBook Pro is a smart option for Mac loyalists looking to replace their outdated laptop with a powerful, lightweight machine.

But, as is usually the case with Apple products, it’s not the best deal compared to the competition. For example, you have to pay extra to get the latest Intel processors, as the base model comes with older chips. If you’re not partial to Apple, there are other interesting Windows options to consider as well, like the Dell XPS 13, which offers a newer processor for the same price.

However, if you stick with Apple’s Mac ecosystem and want a portable work machine, there’s no question that the new MacBook Pro is what you’ve been waiting for.

Pros: Excellent keyboard, fast performance, quality audio

Cons: old processors in the base model


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