16-inch MacBook Pro — Clickity-clack, the good keyboard is back!

16-inch MacBook Pro on Box
16-inch MacBook Pro on Box (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

It's here. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro. No, I'm not messing with you. It's not a dream. You didn't wake up in an alternate reality. It's really here. Bigger screen. All-new keyboard. 8 TB storage and 64 GB memory options. Here. Here. Here. Really. I swear. And I jumped on a plane, got it, and am about to go all hands-on with it for you. Right. Now.

Now, I'm super excited because I love new technology and this new MacBook Pro checks so many items off my wishlist. But, caveat upfront, despite how excited I am now, all of this stuff still has to be tested and some of it will need long term testing. So, I'll share what I find a week or so out, and a month or three out as well.

For now, I've spent a day with the 32GB, 2TB version of Apple's new 16-inch MacBook Pro and here are the first 5 big things, and a ton of little details, that you need to know.

1. 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019: The Display

Apple has made higher density Retina displays, wider gamut P3 displays, and dynamic cast True Tone displays for a few years now. But they haven't made physically bigger displays. Not since they sank the old 17-inch battleship. Not until today.

16-inch MacBook Pro display

16-inch MacBook Pro display (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Now, the new MacBook Pro comes with a 16-inch screen but crammed into a 15-inch chassis. Well, almost. It's a millimeter thicker at 0.64 inches — and yes, I did just switch scales there, thanks America! And about a third of a pound heavier at 4.3 lbs.

It's also 500 nits of P3 color at 3072-by-1920 pixels, 226 ppi. And you can adjust the refresh rate in System Preferences to match any video you maybe editing. Which, yeah, hoorah.

16-inch MacBook Pro Refresh Rate

16-inch MacBook Pro Refresh Rate (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Yes, it's exactly the same play Apple made with the iPhone X and the latest iPad Pro. Because people want bigger screens. They just don't want bigger devices.

My first modern MacBook Pro was 17-inches. I loved the expansiveness of the screen. I hated carrying it around.

As someone who spends most of the day in Final Cut Pro X, and needs to use it on location a bunch, that's literally music to my eyes… and back.

Add Sidecar on an iPad or up to two — two — Pro Displays XDR and you've got everything from a mobile rig to a mobile workstation.

2. 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019: The Keyboard

Yeah, forget the screen, right, this is the part everyone wants to know about? Well, after three years and three generations of butterfly keyboards, with issues from no taps to double taps, and a feeling that some portion of the MacBook customer base just hated regardless, Apple has gone back to the typing board and come up with something old-is-new again.

16-inch MacBook Pro Keyboard

16-inch MacBook Pro Keyboard (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

A lot of people aren't going to believe it until they use it, and go a year or several without any issues. But, mechanically, functionally, typing on it right now, I'm tactile-ly optimistic that Apple has finally put the butterfly behind them.

Apple says they started with the iMac's magic keyboard, something that almost everyone using it adores, if not considers it Apple's best keyboard ever. And, yeah, something I've been suggesting and hoping for for a couple of years now.

Then, they re-architected it to provide the same experience while flat and embedded on a laptop.

16-inch MacBook Pro Arrow Keys

16-inch MacBook Pro Arrow Keys (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

That includes a return to the scissor-switch mechanism we all know and love, which gives another millimeter of travel. A new rubber dome that kicks back harder, and can lock into the new keycap at the top of travel to keep the stability that many people, including myself, legit preferred with the butterfly keyboards.

The keys are every so slightly smaller, like 0.5 millimeters, but I can't see or feel the difference.

Also, hold onto your code, developers, the dedicated escape key is back, and it's mirrored on the other side with a dedicated Touch ID power button, like on the MacBook Air. The Touch Bar now sits between them, though unfortunately still not taptically force touch so.

Better still, the arrow keys are now back in the blessed inverted T formation, so you can feel which key you're hitting instead of hopes and prayersing it… like an animal.

I'm pretty much keyboard agnostic. I can type well on the old MacBook keyboards, the new ones, even the iPad Pro smart keyboards. It took me all of a minute to adjust to the new ones. It'll take a little longer to figure out if I prefer it or not.

Likewise, it's going to take months if not a year before every drop of confidence is restored. But, it feels like Apple has made a huge stride in that direction.

Typing fingers crossed.

3. 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019: Ports & Peripherals

Three years ago, Apple deleted USB-A from the MacBook Pro. And HDMI. And the SDHC card slot. RIP SDHC card. I miss you ever day. And… nothing has changed here. The ports on the new 16-inch are the same as the previous 15-inch. Four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 and a headphone jack.

16-inch MacBook Pro Ports

16-inch MacBook Pro Ports (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

The camera is still 720p, which is honestly a disservice to the rest of this machine. I get that the lid is super thin but I would low key give a big old bump to get a 4K camera in there.

It would be overkill for conference calling but emergency/on the road production would be great Same reason as why the new mics are so great. (More on those in a minute.) I would take really good 1080p, but 4K would give a little more room to edit around the tougher framing.

I could imagine sitting down in front of the Mac and just recording an entire talking head video. I can't do that at 720p, but I could easily do that at 1080 and even better at 4K.

Also, Face ID.

16-inch MacBook Pro FaceTime

16-inch MacBook Pro FaceTime (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

The technology isn't small enough yet. But since Apple has made so many of my other wishes come true, that's now moving pretty much to the top of the list.

Same with Wi-Fi, which didn't get the WiFi6 bump the iPhone 11 got and is still stuck at 802.11ac.

Bluetooth, though, got bumped up to 5.0.

4. 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019: Performance

The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts off with a 2.6GHz 6-core i7, turbo boost up to 4.5GHz. But, if you want more cores you can go to a 2.4GHz 8 core 19, turbo boost up to 5Ghz. That's 9th generation Coffee Lake refresh for anyone still trying to keep track of them at home.

16-inch MacBook Pro vs. 15-inch MacBook Pro

16-inch MacBook Pro vs. 15-inch MacBook Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Graphics start with AMD's new 7 nanometer Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, and go all the way up to Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory. They've got 1.5 times more performance per watt and a wider architecture with more compute unites and stream processors.

Apple says that tops out at 80% faster performance than the previous Radeon Verga Pro 20.

And, yeah, Apple still has their own, custom silicon inside as well. Same T2 chip as before, and as well as handling authentication for Touch ID, it's also still doing things like accelerating HEVC encoding beyond what standard laptop processors can do alone.

To support all this, there's a new thermal architecture with larger impellers, more blades, and new fans that improve airflow by what Apple says is 28%.

There's also a redesigned heat sink that has 35% more surface area and greater efficiency to dissipate heat more effectively. And all of that combines to sustain up to 12 additional watts of power during intense workloads.

16-inch MacBook Pro Geekbench

16-inch MacBook Pro Geekbench (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Storage starts at 512 GB, which is better than the 256GB of the last generation, but still super lean in the modern era. But, now you can take it all the way up to 8 TB — I'll say it again — 8TB of 3.2GB/s storage.

As someone who posts a new 4K video almost every day… and has been experimenting with 4K RAW, that's literally a dream. A super expensive dream, yeah. But for anyone billing purchases to clients, a literal dream.

So is the memory. It starts at 16GB of 2666Mhz DDR4 but you can take it all the way up to 64 GB if you have the budget. Which, again, will be a dream for anyone doing pro video, audio, graphics… anything that pays for itself in productivity speed.

Powering all this a new, bigger, 100-Wh battery — the largest allowed on a plane by the FAA. It'll do an hour more on Apple's reference — 11 instead of 10, and still 30 days of standby. And with a new 96w charging brick, you can go from zero to full in about 2.5 hours.

5. 16-inch MacBook Pro 2019: Audio

Now, I didn't think I'd have a section on this, but that fancy audio lab Apple built outside Park for the AirPods and HomePods is showing up in pretty much every device now, including the new 16-inch MacBook Pro.

16-inch MacBook Pro Speaker & Esc Key

16-inch MacBook Pro Speaker & Esc Key (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

For speakers, there's a new Hi-Fi 6 speaker surround system that sounds like a HomePod was flattened out and shoved on either side of the keyboard. It's got force canceling woofers and back to back drivers, so if the MacBook is rocking… you don't have to worry about any knocking.

And, it's bananas, but it supports Dolby Atmos and it seriously fills a room.

The mics are even more interesting. They're in a 3-mic array that Apple is calling studio quality. Their goal was to make the MacBook Pro have such a high signal to noise ratio that it would rival recording with a stand-alone USB mic like a Blue Yeti.

It's not meant to replace a proper podcast or interview set up by any means. But, if you get stuck while traveling or otherwise without your proper setup, it's meant to be there for you as a backup.

To test it out, I recorded all the hands-on in the video above using the new 16-inch MacBook Pro mics. So, tell me what you think.

16-inch MacBook Pro 2019: More to come…

I've said this since it launched in 2016: That generation of MacBook Pros were the most divisive MacBook's in history. Some people loved the speed of the new ports and the feel of the new keyboards. Others hated the dongles and the feel. And no one liked the keyboard issues. And, if you only have one vendor making macOS laptops, that's untenable.

Well, the ports are the same, but USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are three years more mature now. The keyboard, though... that doesn't just feel reverted. It feels reverted and then leaped forward. And the power, well...

If the new Mac Pro is functionally like a server room in a box, then this new MacBook Pro feels like a workstation on your lap. No hyperbole. The hardware, from Intel and AMD to everything Apple customized, and the software, come together to let you crush workflows on the road, in the air, on location, at events, everywhere, that you never could before.

More devices in the simulator, more models for game developers, real-time workflows for animators, more instruments and plugins in logics, real-time 8K and 3D render effects in Final Cut Pro X, and the list goes on and on.

It's totally in keeping with Apple's mantra of making the mobile devices so good they push hard up against the desktops and force those to fight back.

But we'll get to the Mac Pro and it's new 8TB option come December. For now, this the MacBook Pro's time.

And, for me, the biggest surprise here is that Apple is introducing the new 16-MacBook Pro not as something extra in the lineup, something more expensive. No, Apple is replacing the current 15-inch MacBook Pro with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, and at the exact same starting price. $2399 in the U.S. Which pretty much makes it the best value ever for the top end portable Mac.

Again, this is me at max excite, fresh first love mode. But, in addition to editing this whole thing on the new MacBook Pro, I'm going to be pushing it hard for the weeks and months to come, and giving you a much more sober set of reviews as soon as inhumanly possible.

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.