13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) vs 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019): What's the difference (and should you upgrade)?

MacBook Pro in low light
MacBook Pro in low light (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

On the surface, there's not much of a difference between the 2020 and 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro. However, the differences are on the inside, where you'll find significant upgrades on the newer model, starting with a new keyboard. So, which is the better buy, and should you upgrade? Let's take a look at what makes these MacBooks tick.

Break it down

The 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro model offers 10th-core Intel Core chips and a better graphics card, in most cases. You'll also find double the memory and double the storage on the newer models. The top new feature on this year's model, however, is almost certainly the Magic Keyboard. Already on the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) and MacBook Air (2020), the new keyboard is an improvement on the heavily criticized butterfly mechanism found last year's 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The choice you make between these two models comes down to whether you can live with the older keyboard design. If you can, and you find a great deal on last year's model, go with it. If you're all about the Magic Keyboard, take a look at this year's model and consider maximizing your RAM, storage, or both, depending on your budget.

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Header Cell - Column 0 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020)13-inch MacBook Pro (2019)
Starting price$1,299$1,199
Display13.3-inch Retina display with True Tone13.3-inch Retina Display with True Tone
Processor1.4GHz quad-core 10th-generation Intel Core i5; upgradable to 2.3GHz quad-core 10th-generation Intel Core i71.4GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5; upgradable to 2.8GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7
GraphicsIntel Iris Plus Graphics 645 or Intel Iris Plus GraphicsIntel Iris Plus Graphics 645 or Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
RAM16GB, 32GB8GB, 16GB
Storage256GB SSD (up to 4TB SSD)128GB SSD (up to 2TB SSD)
PortsTwo or Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) portTwo or Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port
Battery lifeApprox. 10 hoursApprox. 10 hours
Weight3.1 pounds3.02 pounds
Camera720p FaceTime HD720p FaceTime HD
KeyboardMagic KeyboardButterfly mechanism

As you can see, the main differences between the 2020 and 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro boil down to a better keyboard on the newer model and double the RAM and storage. The processor is also better, which is a significant improvement to note.

Should you upgrade?

If you own the 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro and aren't having any problems with the keyboard, and don't need more RAM or storage, stick with the one you have. If you have something else or need a new laptop, you should first decide whether you'll be happy with a 13.3-inch screen. If you want something bigger, you should consider the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019) or wait until the fall when Apple could release its first 14-inch MacBook Pro.

Assuming you like the size of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, consider the differences between the 2020 and 2019 models before making your decision. If scoring a discount isn't essential, go with the newer model. Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with saving some cash and going with the 2019 model.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.