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MacBook vs. MacBook Pro vs. MacBook Air in pictures

Apple's new MacBook represents nothing more nor less than the next stage of evolution of the laptop, at least how Apple imagines it. With a 12-inch screen, it should be slightly smaller than both the 13-inch MacBooks Pro and Air, but it manages to be much smaller, thinner, and lighter, all while packing in a high-density Retina display.

Even though it's smaller the unibody is even stronger. The metal doesn't just come in space gray, gold, and silver now — it goes all the up the back. Where previously there was a black backed hinge, now there's just back. The logo is metal now as well, and yes, that means it no longer lights up when the screen does.

There's also just one port on the left side, a USB-C which is set to become a new standard. On the right is a headphone jack and the dual microphones. That's it.

Close up of USB-C port on MacBook

Close up of USB-C port on MacBook (Image credit: iMore)

The keyboard is full size but the keys are even fuller, with new butterfly switches replacing the old scissors. The keys go almost to the edge. They're also closer together now, and individually backlit. The left and right arrow are full height, and the escape elongated.

Then there's the Force Touch trackpad. It doesn't look different from previous generation trackpads and it doesn't feel much different either. That's what makes your mind break just a little when you find out it has no mechanical parts.

All in all, the new MacBook is, unsurprisingly, an incredible piece of engineering. It's an object even more than unibodies past, and yet another new standard for manufacturing at scale.

But that's the outside. Next we'll look at how it fares within.

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Rene Ritchie
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.

29 Comments
  • "There's also just one port on the left side, a USB-C which is set to become a new standard. " Just like THUNDERBOLT?
  • Unlike TB, USB-C is an open standard, and not proprietary to Apple
  • Thunderbolt actually wasn't exclusive to Apple, it just didn't see much use since it was essentially mini displayport "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • You had to pay Apple to use Thunderbolt. That is how it is exclusive to Apple and made it extra expensive for third parties to use it. Some tried it on their laptops and people didn't use it so it was dropped — too few accessories, and those devices cost more. People, particularly those who don't own Apple devices, are more driven by lower price than speed or quality.
  • Oh, I didn't know you had to pay them to use it. I just remembered seeing it on a few Windows laptops. Thanks for the info m8 "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • Thunderbolt is a standard developed by Intel that was basically mini-DisplayPort plus an extremely high speed data bus tacked on. Oh, and power too. It uses... eSata I believe? Not sure. Anyways, basically USB-C before it was cool, and again: Developed by Intel, not Apple. Initially not adopted by anyone other than Apple because USB3.0 was the hip new thing, and no motherboards at the time could support Thunderbolt and USB3.0 at the same time. Windows OEMs opted for USB3.0, Apple just kept the older USB2.0 ports and opted for Thunderbolt. Then when the motherboards came out that could support both, Apple immediately supported USB3.0 alongside Thunderbolt. Some Windows OEMs like Acer shipped some high end ultrabooks with Thunderbolt, but it never took off, and so it just slowly faded from the Windows camp. Thunderbolt is technically a (very expensive) industry standard that anyone can license, it's just not that many do. Honestly, the only device that ships with Windows that I can think of right now that uses Thunderbolt is the Surface Pro 3's charging port. And even then, it's not a real Thunderbolt port, because it's been mutilated and can only be accessed by the Docking Station.
  • This is a ridiculous trolling type of comment. There are hundreds and hundreds of thunderbolt devices out there and it's a very popular connection. It's also a very very high speed connection, so it wouldn't make any sense for it to be used for all the kiddie crap that USB is used for. It's for hard drives, monitors and inter-device networking, it's HUGELY popular in exactly that area and basically "rules" in any kind of industry that uses these kind of devices. A better example (if you're looking for it) of an Apple standard that has completely *failed* because of the licensing issue is "AirPlay" which is a superior in every way standard, but was choked to death by fees from Apple.
  • Would the 11.6 inch MacBook Air not be a better comparison? Ever so slightly small and lighter (by 160 g) but with a much better screen.
  • My new Macbook is lighter than my original iPad with Apple case, with a nice size screen. I'm amazed and eager for it to arrive. Trying one at my local store, then coming home. My 2014 13 inch rMBP looked silver, clunky, and industrial. The Macbook will replace my iPad Air 2 and my rMBP and a Surface Pro 3 if it can run Parallels and Windows ok for work stuff.
  • I love the Force Trackpad. I lust the keyboard after trying it. If my main mobile use case could handle the slower processor I would have purchased the Macbook without blinking. With some regrets I bought the new 13" Macbook Pro instead, because I needed a laptop and I needed a minimum recommended 2 GHz dual core processor. At least I got the Force Trackpad.
  • On paper the macbook is horrible but when i used it for surfing the web and general stuff and even games at the Apple store it was pretty fast. But i end up getting a macbook pro with force touch instead
  • I thought the MacBooks all said MacBook or MacBook Pro at the bottom of the display. Apparently that's not the case. Because my new MacBook Pro with ForceTouch says nothing. I guess all you need is the logo now?
  • Apple removed the "MacBook Pro" branding on the bezel with the release of the Retina models in 2012. The original thought was that it eliminated a distraction, but interesting that they decided to put it back for the new "MacBook." I kind of prefer it there.
  • Same here
  • Is it TweetBot 2.0 on the 10th picture ? :D
  • I thought the new MacBook wouldn't let any light out from around the keys on the keyboard..
  • The new thing for the keyboard backlight is that each key has its own dedicated LED, vs the old style that was a single or several LEDs then dispersed to the keys via fiber optic cables. Sent from the iMore App
  • Ok. What is the benefit of this? :)
  • No bleed, maybe power savings, they don't let you light up specific keys only, but if they did this would help. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • What do you mean by no bleed? We can see the light coming out from the sides of the keys in these screenshots, which I'd assume is "bleed". Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't understand the place that the MacBook Air is suppose to take now that the new Macbook is here Sent from the iMore App
  • It will likely go away when the current stock is depleted. Sent from the iMore App
  • More likely when version 2 of the macbook releases. And when people's mindset changes towards the single port thing. Apple will have to hold the Air until the industry is fully ready for it and all current air owners will consider it an upgrade (As of now some are scared of the single port thing and the processor)
  • I agree with DurfMobile. It's more likely that the next gen of MacBook Pros will be so similar to the MacBook Airs, that the Airs will be deleted. However long the MacBook Air lingers, I don't see them making any new models of them, that's for sure.
  • I think I agree with u
  • For users who want a super light computer but still want it to be fast. When this thing gets faster they'll definitely get rid of the air. Sent from the iMore App
  • Don't forget the Air still had full ports. So for roadwarriors that actually need to connect to stuff. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • Since the macbook is so thin already it cant be any thinner till they come up with better materials.
  • How come the air in the middle looks wider than the pro?? Shouldnt they both be 13.3" ?