MacBook Pro is the most techy and expandable laptop Apple has ever made

Dongles (Image credit: Rene Ritchie/iMore)

MacBook Pro 2016 shows Apple is increasingly in a no-win situation when it comes to narrow product focus intersecting the widest possible audiences. If they spec bump and spec bump alone, they're no longer innovating. If they make larger changes, they're abandoning the traditional pro market.

Somewhere between a solid block of aluminum and Homer Simpson's MacBook Pro, though, Apple has made something incredibly interesting.

Adam Geitgey, writing on Medium:

But in some ways, the new MacBook Pro is the most techy and expandable laptop Apple has ever made. They are trusting their pro users to wade into murky USB-C waters in search of the holy grail of a universal, open standard for moving data and power between devices.I'm not here to change your mind about the MacBook Pro. Yes, it's probably too expensive and more RAM is better than less RAM. But everyone posting complaints without actually using a MBP for a few weeks is missing out on all the clever things you can do because it is built on USB-C. Over the past week or two with a new MacBook Pro (15in, 2.9ghz, TouchBar), I've been constantly surprised with how USB-C makes new things possible. It's a kind of a hacker's dream.

I think history — and customers — will look back more favorably on the MacBook Pro than tech Twitter would have many believe. Yes, dongles are a drag, but we've been dealing with them forever. At least with four USB-C / Thunderbolt 3, I can plug in to any of them to charge, and I can plug any dongle into any of them, meaning I can make any port be anything I want.

Just how far in will Apple go with USB-C, though? Neither the Magic accessories nor the Siri Remote charge via USB-C, but by Lightning.

On iPhone and iPad, Apple wasn't patient enough to wait for USB-C. Instead, they drove forward with the similar-though-proprietary Lightning connector and got out a few years ahead.

It's slimmer and Apple doesn't have to wait on standards bodies to debate changes. But it doesn't benefit from the momentum that's turning USB-C's way.

Many people were outraged by the switch from 30-pin to Lightning after just a decade. How many would be outraged by the switch from Lightning to USB-C after only 5 years?

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.

  • And Way Overpriced! Sent from the iMore App
  • If by expandable you mean spreading like a hentai octopus tentacles with all the dongles that's needed, you're spot on.
  • You do realize dongles are only temporary, right? USB-C accessories will be aplenty soon enough. I'd rather have a laptop designed for the future than one stuck in the past
  • So you want a laptop that is so futuristic (ironic since its rocking the RAM of its 3 year old predecessor) that, without turning it into an Atlantic Octopus, is incompatible with most current USB accessories and yet will be a previous-generation MBP model by the time USB-C accessories become the norm. Great logic.
  • USB-C accessories will most likely be very available in a year's time, people tend to use Macs for 3-4 years on average, so as much as the Mac will be a "previous generation" in a year's time, most people will still be using said generation, especially people who don't want to pay full price for the latest generation
  • I remember 10 years ago being told not to worry about flash as HTML 5 was going to take over. Still, the majority of the internet is flash based. With respect to usb-c, I suspect usb 3.0 will be here long after Apple gives up on Macs all together and concentrates on IOS. Assuming that moron Cook is still around.
  • What year did you write that comment in? 2014? The "majority of the Internet is Flash based"? Thats news to those of us who access the internet from our mobile devices (an actual majority) where there is no such thing as Flash.
  • True flash is no longer prevalent but mobile versions of websites are incredibly dumbed down. It's brutal. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • That has nothing to do with Flash though, that's to do with crap web devs who have no idea what they're doing, and Apple holds no responsibility for that
  • "Still, the majority of the internet is flash based. " Flash is used by 7.5% of all the websites.
  • It's considered really bad to use Flash on a website these days. Search engines will also down-rank you if Flash content is detected, especially from a mobile device, Google aren't going to recommend you pages that aren't going to work with your device. Anything Flash can do, HTML5 can do better
  • if u attach a hub to that, than ya.
  • You realize that 95% of those "hentai octopus tentacles" are the cables you're already using to connect your devices, the dongles just add a few extra inches at the end, right? Talk about making a mountain out of an ant hill.
  • Its useless with all the extras that are easy to lose. They realized their error and lowered the prices on dongles to and even 90000000% of their cost. Thanks Apple lol
  • Easy to lose means that you don't care for your technology. They're not easy to lose unless you're stupid. Store them with your laptop like a normal person and you won't lose them
  • Kind of sad that the best thing one can say about the new MBP is that is has USB-C
  • Or, you know, the rest of the new features that the MBP has:
  • Umm hello!! It's thinner and lighter too!!! Lmao Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • And many other things, as shown on Apple's website linked in my comment above
  • No, other than Usb-c there is nothing new and exciting. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • In your opinion…
  • It's not even an opinion, it's just trolling.
  • I have to agree with the article. I think I'm going to be living on this laptop for a very long time. It cost a lot, but it's a flexible professional tool with long legs.
  • laptops don't have legs... (yet)
  • I'm still using my late 2011 MBP for intensive tasks. The only thing I don't like about the new MBP is the inability to upgrade RAM. That is very short-sighted.
  • How is any of this a "hackers dream"? I see no mention of bash scripts, buffer overflows or code vulnerabilities in the article.
  • I would of called it more a hobbyist to mix and match dongles. like putting together a jigsaw. Perhaps 'hackers dream' meant the excuse to code for something like the Touch bar and opens up more opportunity u could never do before. That's a hacker ?? ick..... Times sure have come a long way.
  • It's not, no matter what these idiots tell you.
  • Lawd-a-mercy, Apple must be putting all those un-taxed off-shore billions to good use by paying for this ebullient and enlightening piece.
    If Apple is so forward thinking, seeing as they removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, why did they keep it on the new MBPro's? Why not send out audio via the USB-C ports then?
    For crying out loud, if i walk out of an Apple store with a 2016 MBPro and an iPhone 7, out the box both can't even connect to each other.
    I mean it must really really hurt their phatasmagorical margins to include at the bare minimum a USB-C to USB-A dongle in the box, seeing as we're paying for last year's Intel CPU's at today's premium prices.....
  • I don't know why somebody 'minused' you. You noticed the biggest problem I have with Apple now - the premiere of iPhone preceded MacBook just by a few weeks, yet no one considered that out of the box you can't connect iPhone to MacBook. Which for me is ridiculous when you leave a store having payed 3-4k and still having to remember to buy a cable for $20. I am loosing words to decsribe that...
  • You don't have to connect the two. You are not in the Android world where you have to define your junk as "USB storage device" or "camera" first, then plug to your PC junk to recover your precious selfies. iPhone backs up to iCloud, not to the Mac since many years, and since macOS Sierra, iPhone reaches your Mac documents over iCloud. None of these requires a cabled connection. If you absolutely have to, then you just buy a USB to Lightning cable. But if you really were to pay 2-4k, you wouldn't mind to pay $20 for that cable, would you? I wish many 2-4ks to you asap...
  • I'm not sure why you feel i need to connect my android to a computer at all. Never have in fact and all my files are safely backed up and accessible from anywhere i need. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • You have to do more with an iPhone to a computer than you do an android to a computer. I mean iTunes..... Not to mention if you really want to nitpick, Google backs up your pictures to the cloud just like iCloud...
  • Wow.. you mean people still physically connect iPhones to MacBook Pro's? What for? I've never connected my 6 or 7 to mine.. why would anyone need to?
  • It's you and not everyone Sent from the iMore App
  • Oh they will, trust me. With Apple's history of iOS updates borking iPhones, requiring them to connect to desktop iTunes to perform a restore, it's really not a matter of 'if' but 'when' it happens to you.
  • Actually, it's more of an "if", since in the history of using iPhones and other iOS devices since the iPhone 3G, I have never ran into an update that has "borked" my phone, not even when installing the Public Betas
  • Leave enough empty space in your iPhone, plug it in, find a good wi-fi reception, do not temper with the iPhone while the software downloads and nothing bad will happen during the iOS update. If you've jailbroken your iPhone then that's a different story. FYI it never happened to me, I have four iOS devices and all are routinely updated over the air. If life doesn't care about you and you find yourself unfortunate on this matter, then your neighbor PC repair shop will give a USB-C to USB adapter for free. You've already got the Lightning to USB cable free with your iPhone.
  • You don't need any cable by the way. What you need is not a cable but USB-C to USB adapter, $9 at Apple. Lightning to USB cable is included with your iPhone.
  • i think Apple's changed their game here. Once u would have said "upgrade internal" to mean just that .... now Apple is talking about "most up-gradable" in terms of buying as many dongles as possible.... Ya, i agree to that
  • Dongles are temporary, there will be an abundance of USB-C devices soon enough. That means, no dongles!
  • Dongles are for people with older tech to stay relevant temporarily. Dongles are not for people with the latest tech to get by for a year. That's idiotic. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • So users would only use dongles as a mid way point ? Maybe, and maybe not.. Apple will never go dongle-less. They have a good thing going here.... and while more hardware becomes available with the new connector, that still leaves the burden of having to upgrade just to it with a new phone.. And if Apple just provides more USB-C connectors on a Mac, this only reduces the need for more dongles, it does not eliminate them..
  • "Dongles are for people with older tech to stay relevant temporarily" And USB-A devices are older tech. If you have USB-A, and USB-C, which one is legacy? Legacy means old, and like you said, older tech needs dongles
  • If Google or Microsoft released a notebook without any usb ports and called it 'Pro', I bet Rene would do a joke or two about it. Wait, can you imagine if Google or Microsoft released a flagship smartphone without realizing that you can't connect it to the **** notebook right out of the box? Is this Steve Jobs legacy? It's not! "It just works", remember this? Sent from the iMore App
  • Thankfully Apple released the MacBook Pro with USB ports. Unless you somehow don't realize that USB-C is still USB (the clue is in the name).
  • Please, tell me you're joking.
  • I thought you were joking, surely you realize that USB-C is still USB? It's the next generation of USB
  • I NEVER said USB-C and USB-A are the same thing. GabrielGreca stated that the MacBook Pros were released without USB ports, which is incorrect, they're still USB ports, but a newer version, which is a different shape so yes it requires different peripherals or an adapter. Adapters "adapt" old technology to new technology, it makes sense
  • He's not, lol. He actually believes the crap he writes defending every moronic decision Apple makes. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Do you believe USB-C is not USB as well? Who is more moronic here, when it literally says "USB" on it?
  • Test: go out right now and try to connect an iPhone to a new Macbook Pro without adaptor and then you come here and tell us that they're the same thing.
  • USB-A and USB-C are different, but they're both USB. I don't get what the argument is here, the whole "iPhone not connecting to MacBook" is not a good argument for not putting only USB-C on the MacBook, instead the iPhone should have been provided with a Lightning to USB-C cable in preparation for these new MacBooks
  • Just gonna quote my comment from above: I NEVER said USB-C and USB-A are the same thing. GabrielGreca stated that the MacBook Pros were released without USB ports, which is incorrect, they're still USB ports, but a newer version, which is a different shape so yes it requires different peripherals or an adapter. Adapters "adapt" old technology to new technology, it makes sense
  • Thankfully MS thinks outside the box.. They are in different world, so naturally they will always be the 'big bully' hitting on Apple. Its allot more better bullying the little guy, then just accepting what they do..
  • Hopefully they show some real courage and put USB C on iPhones instead of lighting. Apple is all about user experience according to Rene and hopefully they go all USB C so that it's a better experience.
  • Their real problem lives with the lightning port right now. Ideally iPhone would have USB-C as well. And ideally it would come with EarPods that plug into via USB-C. Sent from the iMore App
  • its just a transition...
  • A hackers dream? What are you, 8? This is overpriced ****.
  • It's overpriced, sure, but it's certainly not ****
  • what a bunch of apple fanboy horseshit. why is it a hackers dream? several of us would love to know. im sure all the 4337 haxors love carrying around 2 dozen over priced dongles so their things can connect to their expensive fashion statement.
  • Dongles are temporary, soon enough there will be USB-C devices aplenty
  • Exactly. That's not a bad thing. The new MacBook Pro came with new USB ports instead of legacy ones. So adapters/dongles are there to adapt your legacy technology to the new MacBook Pro
  • Pathetic!!! Sent from the iMore App
  • I wish it was the cheapest as well... Sent from the iMore App
  • :/ Sent from the iMore App
  • Not sure why a Pro laptop would be the cheapest… but they are overpriced.
  • Apple makes a Pro laptop again???? Or do you mean Facebook Pro? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Hilarious, I guess that's why Apple advertise the MacBook Pro being able to do so many things, but they don't show Facebook.
  • All this year, the Apple blogosphere hasn't been writing about how good the products are; they've been leaping to Apple's defence - and doesn't that just speak volumes? They've had a lukewarm year all round (9.7 inch iPad Pro, iPhone 7, MacBook Pro all very much "meh" for a lot of people). And that's fine, really. They aren't doomed. They are just another tech company. It's fine to admit they've dropped the ball a bit recently - nothing's going happen to you.
  • Defence it is! Sent from the iMore App
  • In my years of using MacBooks I've not really had any scratches, and most certainly no dents. That sounds more like treating your laptop badly rather than a problem with the material used. It also doesn't suffer from problems that some other laptops have, such as the letters wearing off the keys, or the trackpad staining
  • Love how someone downvoted this, as if I'm blind. Ok then…
  • It might not take too much to scratch them, but I always put my Macbook in a case when I'm done with it, and I don't put it with any sharp objects. Dents sound like they've been dropped, which I've never done
  • People are probably better at Mac's.. They tend to drop/dent phones much worse.. To me, that's still to excuse not to learn a lesson from... iPhones are just more limited, pocket technology devices. yet we hurl them round our heads tired to an elastic band, thinking we can use them as a weapon.
  • Except they haven't "dropped the ball", they've just done things a few geeks on the internet don't like. Totally different ball park.
  • I was expecting a combination of an abrams tank and a porsche, as was expected from a macbook PRO machine. instead, I see a glorified ipad with a keyboard as if the battery life is the most important thing. It is not even a thing, let alone the most important thing. I work mostly on a desk and on AC. I couldn't care less about that thingamagic strip, in fact i'd pay up to $50 not to have it and have regular keyboard buttons. I'm not even blind but I think physical buttons with ever changing functionality is a terrible thing. Removing magsafe is so stupid I can't even begin to describe. It was the most beautiful thing and saved my laptop so many times. It seems like Apple is in the business of producing slim shiny objects that can enter smiley into a chat with one button for long hours. For more serious tasks I, UNFORTUNATELY, have to move to more serious products. I really hate to see macbook pro turning to crap and not being able to do programming on it anymore.
  • If you feel unable to do programming on the new Macbook Pros maybe you should not do any programming at all... No one can help you in your bizarre case. You destroy your battery by keeping your Macbook plugged-in all the time. Your physical function keys are still there, on the new 13" MBP without the Touch Bar. Magsafe is removed to save your monies, because MagSafe plug eventually breaks under heavy use and it costs $79 to replace, yours may be intact but there is a sh*tload of broken MagSafe cables. Abrams tank and Porsche hybrid does not exist in Apple, you're on the wrong page, go to Surface pages.
  • Bizarre case my derriere. In 2016, if you are unable to give 32/64 ram option on a pro machine/mobile workstation just don’t call it “pro”. Call it “clown”. Macbook Clown. If I need to emulate my production environment in my mobile workstation, I need to run cassandra, mysql, rabbit, etc. at the same time and easist way of doing this is containers. I don’t care about battery life or the battery’s good health, and mentioning 13” with even more inferior specs is a joke I presume. Magsafe was pretty reliable on my 2010 mbp, never failed once. Even if it did, $79 is still way cheaper than the cost of the laptop, even worse, my work. Abrams and porsche hybrid did exist up until 2016 mbp, and if they just updated the specs, gave the option of 32/64 ram, I’d still be their customer and forgo the stupid crap that is touchbar, I’d still miss magsafe deeply. And what’s the point of touchbar anyways. It is just hardware version of a software toolbar. If you are using an app, it’s toolbar is already visible on the screen, and keyboard shortcuts are more than enough for being productive. Surface, or any MS OS is not an option, I’d never go back to that s**t. Mbp was almost perfect (although they never got discrete graphics work properly, I’d pay $100 to disable it for good) and I am sad to see it gone. I hope it is a temporary absence.
  • There is no 32/64 Gb version of true mobile LPDDR3 RAM. Go buy a PC laptop built with desktop components. Do you need Xcode to program your containers? No. So you don't need a Mac, you can already do these on a PC laptop. And you can sell your current Macbook with a good price as well. Since keyboard shortcuts are more than enough to make you productive then why are you whining about the lack of function keys? Build your keyboard shortcuts on the Keyboard Preference pane and go... And give us some peace...
  • Of course I can do my job on a Windows or Linux laptop that is built with desktop components. I don't need the mbp, I love the *******. I get emotional when they don't get it right. Gimmick like touchbar is like seasoning in the dish where both meat and the potatoes are missing. 2016 mbp is all fluff no substance.
  • I really like the new MacBook Pros. The world is moving towards USB-C. For me, I don't use any peripherals. I also believe that they should offer more ram. I also believe that Apple needs to listen to their customers or the may follow the same path as companies like Sears. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Rene, I love these new machines, and couldn’t care less about the legacy ports, but my goodness this analysis is ridiculous. USB-C offers convenience, but doesn’t make anything new possible. Any "expansion" to this laptop vis a vis peripherals was possible on USB-A. And a motherboard with a soldered-on SSD is by definition less expandable than one with a modular SSD. Oh, and though I never had use for the SD slot, devices like the "Nifty Minidrive" could be used to tack on another internal drive. That was a very cool expansion option that is no longer possible.
  • Apple is following the principle taught in sales classes. Gain more customers and customers satisfaction will follow. They do not care about the few "pro" customers who need the extra RAM and the connectivity. They want to expand the market as that is more of a revenue market. There is very little in the form of true innovation coming out of Apple now. More disjointed products, where one will not connect to another without a dongle or two. Have you tried connecting your iPhone 7 plus headphone to your new or for that matter you older Macbook without a dongle? Or tried charging iPhone 7 plus with the new MacBook without a dongle? Rene has not written a single critical piece about Apple in more than 2 years. Even argues against the fact that the new MacBook Pro is not as recyclable as the previous one. No one can be unbiased and fail to see the path that Tim Cook has chosen to take- the one towards to ensure higher profit rather than one of innovation. Sent from the iMore App
  • The laptop is still designed for Pros, I'm not sure why you're saying this isn't for Pros. There's a reason the RAM doesn't go to 32GB, it's explained here: There's still just as much connectivity, USB-C allows for data transfer, video, audio and more. Maybe there's not much innovation, the main new thing on the MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar but you're right, it's not revolutionary. The iPhone 7 Plus is pretty much just spec upgrade with a few extras (stereo speakers, water resistance), so I do agree with you on the innovation part. The connectivity issue wouldn't have been a problem if the iPhone 7 used USB-C, hopefully it will eventually, but yeah it's a bit of a mess at the moment. As for whether Apple are putting profit over innovation that's all down to each person's opinion, but I can see why it would look this way
  • The main new thing on the Macbook Pro is the NVMExpress SSD. It is not easy to implement that in a notebook, because it produces a lot of heat and the only available external model comes with fins to provide air circulation and to prevent throttling. What Apple has done with NVMExpress SSD is a big achievement. Touch Bar is an auxiliary interface element, but it is not totally useless, because it is integrated with TouchID. Touch ID and Apple Pay are much more important than a silly useless function key. When you consider TouchID and Apple Pay you cannot deny how innovative Touch Bar is. iPhone has no connectivity issue, Lightning is already a standard supported by all the third parties in the iOS ecosystem. So the iPhone doesn't need USB-C. Did Apple remove the iPhone charger? Then why one would need to charge the iPhone from the new Macbook Pro? That is silly, no, lamenting about that is silly.
  • My head hurts from all this spin... By your definition, any computer with a USB-C port is just as expandable. You can't even "expand" the internal SSD or RAM. Apple under Jobs prided itself on recyclable computers, this is the opposite. I can't even upgrade parts to get a little more life out of older hardware. I can't get 8gig now, then later on as 16gig becomes really cheap upgrade then. Why do we need this spin? The Cheese-grater Mac Pros had hundreds of times the expandablity of the Trash-can ones, yet you spun that too. Apple is going away from expansion and customizing and going towards the 1984 ad they said they were against. Why try to make it seem as though they aren't?
  • You cannot upgrade the new Macbook Pro because there is nothing upgradable in it. The true notebook LPDDR3 RAM has no removable variant. The SSD has a custom Apple controller, so it is not upgradable either. In exchange you get the fastest SSD in the industry, with NVMExpress. You want to sacrifice power to satisfy your tinkering enthusiasm with little science projects? Then there are a lot of PC laptops out there built with desktop components. Apple is not in this business..
  • My point was, this is in no way the "most expandable". I was not commenting that Apple should do different, I meant it as the article says it's something it isn't. I like how you're over defending Apple all over these negative comments. Steve Jobs might have done differently, but this is in no way "the most expandable". Sent from the iMore App
  • It would be nice if they had created an Apple Dock for the new MacBook Pros, since they cancelled the Apple Displays. That would help the end users attach legacy peripherals and displays and be independent sale from the MacBook. Dock >> Dongle
  • Apple could do many things, but it seems they don't even try anymore. Most of these things are just boring like faster printers and copiers.
  • Well written article. Great points as always.
  • If Apple switches from Lightning to USB-C for the iPhone 8 I'd be more upset than if they would have made the change with the iPhone 7 or even 6s. This would also make their decision to remove the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and ship lightning headphones very perplexing. I would love to have an iPhone that used USB-C instead of lightning, but at this point it would probably lead to even more backlash. Sent from the iMore App