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Magic Trackpad 2 review

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Force Touch may have been announced first with the Apple Watch but it shipped first on the new MacBook and, in so doing, brought the next generation of interactivity to the laptop. Now, the Magic Trackpad 2 aims to bring the same pressure sensitivity to desktop. Once again, it's multitouch made multidimensional, but this time for the iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro.

And while Force Touch—and Force Click—are the headline new features, the Magic Trackpad 2 also sports a new design and with it, a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Yet all of these updates come at a price—$129. So, is the Magic Trackpad 2 worth it?

For people who want:

  • Force Touch on the desktop
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery

Not for people who want:

  • A mouse
  • A cheap input device

Bottom Line

The new Magic Trackpad 2 is better than the old Magic Trackpad in every way. It's bigger, it's sturdier, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery is built right in, and it supports the same next-generation Force Touch technology found in the latest MacBooks. But all of that comes at a cost. For $129, you have to really want it.

$129 - Buy now from Apple (opens in new tab)

Magic Trackpad 2 Table of Contents

Magic Trackpad 2 Design

Superficially, the Magic Trackpad 2 is a rounded rectangular wedge, lower in front, higher in back. It's 0.43 inches (109 mm) at its tallest point, 4.52 inches (1149 mm) deep, 6.3 inches (16 cm) wide, and weighs 0.51 pounds (0.231 kg). On the back there's an on/off switch, Lightning port, and plastic window to allow the Bluetooth signals in and out. Other than that, it's all aluminum and white glass.

The surface of the Magic Trackpad 2 is larger than the previous generation. Apple says by 29 percent. That makes it feel almost like a small touch-tablet, through stripped of everything but the touch. Because it no longer needs to hold AA batteries, it no longer needs the roll at the base. Because it does need to house the Force Touch and Tapic Engine assemblies, it no longer has the empty space beneath it either.

The result is something that feels remarkably solid. Indeed, it is solid and in a way beyond even the much thinner Force Touch trackpads in the new MacBook and MacBooks Pro. It feels exactly like them, though. Just more expansive, free even of the shallow cutout of the unibody.

The white color is stark, though. It's glass, and I know intellectually it won't discolor or get dirty the way other white finishes might, but emotionally it causes me stress. I initially wished Apple had kept the aluminum finish of the original Magic Trackpad, but now I'm not sure. Now I'm leaning towards wishing they'd gone with silver, space gray, and gold, like the MacBook.

I know it wouldn't match and iMac or Mac mini or Mac Pro, but neither does the white. The white matches only the white of the keys on the Magic Keyboard and the plastic on the Magic Mouse, and I'd prefer all of them be black or matched to Apple's more fashionable product lines.

The new footprint does take up more space on the desk, but the new feeling and functionality make it worth it. Especially since it's offset by the smaller footprint of the new Magic Keyboard.

It's another example, perhaps one of the purest examples ever, of Apple's "inevitability" aesthetic. When it comes to design, it is exactly what it is, and in the best way possible.

Magic Trackpad 2 Functionality

The Magic Trackpad 2 is rechargeable now. Plug it in over the supplied Lightning cable—the same one that charges iPhones, iPads, and new Apple TV remotes—and it'll not only instantly pair to your Mac, but it'll replenish itself enough to last you over a month of regular use. Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about Force Touch.

The greatest trick the new MacBook ever pulled was making you think you could click its Force Touch trackpad. Then, when you turned it off, you realized just how thoroughly you were being tricked. Just how great a lie your fingers were telling you. The Magic Trackpad 2 is exactly like that, but more so.

Because the Magic Trackpad 2 is just a wedge, when it's off it feels it really feels like just a wedge. Unmoving. That, if you tried to click it like it had a button, it would laugh at you. Then you turn it on and not only does proprioception make it feel like it's clicking, it makes it feel like it's clicking at different depths as well. It's ingeniously maddening. It also allows for a range of new functionality.

It's not necessary functionality because most people still don't have a Force Touch or Magic Trackpad, so Apple can't make OS X reliant on one being there. But it's convenient functionality, which can be extremely valuable. Similar to 3D Touch on the iPhons 6s, you can press deeper in links, data detectors, icons, avatars, and more to "peek" into other views and other apps.

  • Force Click on a Dock icon to Expose the app's windows, a file icon to Quick Look it, or a file name to edit it.
  • Force Click on a word to look it up in Dictionary or Wikipedia, an address to get a Maps preview, or a location to drop a pin.
  • Force Click on a date to add it to Calendar, an event to see details, and an invitee to preview their contact card.
  • Force Click on a link to preview a web site, an image or PDF to invoke Markup, or an iMessage conversation to see details.

You can also get the same type of pressure sensitivity out of it as you can 3D Touch, though sadly Apple's new Notes app doesn't include the Sketch functionality on OS X that it does on iOS. Apple is providing developer access to the Force Touch trackpad on OS X, though, so hopefully art, music, and other apps will soon start taking advantage of it.

There are already some interesting applications in Apple's apps. You can press harder to accelerate fast forward and rewind in QuickTime, for example, or to zoom in and out in Maps. And you can receive Taptic feedback so you "feel" when a slider is at its neutral or extreme points.

Force Click everything

The way Force Touch works on the stand-alone Magic Trackpad is identical to the way it works on the Force Touch Trackpad on the MacBooks. There are four sensors inside the trackpad that register how hard you press, and an electromagnetic Taptic Engine that returns haptic vibrations in response.

Crudely put, the Magic Trackpad is returning horizontal force that our fingers, because they're really not as discriminating as we think they are, are interpreting as vertical force. Even the sound of the click is partially faked—you can mute it in Settings if you prefer.

But Apple's not doing Force Touch to fool us or simply to be clever. The company is doing it so that they can fit fully operational trackpads into ridiculously thin laptops, since the mechanisms no longer have to stack beneath the surfaces. And provide fully functional clicks from top to bottom, since the mechanism no longer has to depend on an anchored physical switch.

It's science and engineering that feels like magic, and it's fascinating. The way in which it's being done, though, and even that it's being done, doesn't really matter. All that matters is that the magic totally work.

Magic Trackpad 2 Bottom Line

The minute Apple showed off the Force Touch Trackpad on the new MacBooks, everyone with a desktop or docked Mac wondered when it would be coming for them and theirs. With the Magic Trackpad 2, it's here. And it's glorious.

I'm not a huge fan of the color, but I like the new size and new design. And I love that I can now have a consistent experience between MacBook and iMac. That's incredibly important because Force Touch isn't currently a requirement for OS X. It's a convenience. And if it's not on all your devices, you'll never build up enough habit and enough muscle memory to really benefit from that convenience.

With the Magic Trackpad 2, though, I'm not just using Force Touch for the first time on my iMac, I remember to us it more often on my MacBook as well.

I'm not a fan of the mouse, and have never much enjoyed Apple's mouses, so whether or not those who love the mouse should switch to the Magic Trackpad 2 I can't say. If you have a Force Touch trackpad on your MacBook and want a consistent experience on our desktop Mac, however, you should consider it.

For those who have the original Magic Trackpad, the ability to recharge simply by plugging in is terrific, and the Force Touch, to me, makes it absolutely worth it.

And yes, that's taking into account the $129 sticker price, which is really high by input device standards. The future never comes cheap, especially Apple's vision of it, but if you can spare the cash you're in for a treat.

$129 - Buy now from Apple (opens in new tab)

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.

36 Comments
  • The price is 129$ US, in Canada it's 169$ CAD . The good news is: wait for it... It works perfectly with old Macs .
    Of course with an external Bluetooth 4.0 dongle (I used GMYLE for 10$CAD on amazon). So enjoy.
  • The white matches your Airport Extreme, and your white watch Sport band, and the white front of your various coloured iPhones, etc... I'm glad Apple aren't allowing their heavenly backlit white cleanliness to evaporate completely. Having come from PCs in the last few years, I quite like that there's a lot less black involved. Kind of feels like joining the good guys.
  • I would say that it's probably worth paying an extra 50 and getting the trackpad over the worthless mouse when buying an iMac. But I probably wouldn't get either if that was an option and just knock off 79.
  • Finally I get the new technology for my iMac that was only available on portable devices before. Some people might grudge the price of the upgrade, but $250 is money well spent on a $4000+ 5k iMac to upgrade the experience. I hope Apple continues to innovate desktop peripherals for desktop. Next I want Apple pencil for iMac.
  • "The white color (sic) ... emotionally it causes me stress." Puhleeze! "Emotionally it causes me stress?" Seriously?
    You should be embarrassed to write that.
  • Remember, this is designed to be as much of a fashion statement as it is a trackpad. If you're paying that much for a fashion statement, you'll want to be sure it lasts. Giving the various coating Apple uses, I think it will resist most stains (until the coating wears off, at least)
  • I worry about spilling things on it and otherwise getting it dirty, which I never did with the aluminum colored one. I'm only embarrassed when I write unnecessarily rude, empathy-void replies to people :)
  • Ha!
  • Congratulations. You've just added the straw that broke the smug, self-righteous camel's back. I have removed any RSS feed I had associated with this site and will no longer be looking to iMore for news, forums, etc.
  • It's sad when a plea for politeness and generosity, already couched in humor, gets that kind of reaction. With sincerity, you'll be missed and we look forward to having you back!
  • If it was just this one time, it wouldn't bother me. But this attitude is something I've seen becoming more and more common by from you as well as from other writers on this site. If you want to run a blog site where people splatter opinions against the wall without any thought then so be it, but that isn't for me. I started coming to this site a little before Verizon got the iPhone and genuinely enjoyed the articles and posts. Now, those posts are becoming less news and more exercises on demonstrating that the author is superior to any and all readers. If this site ever goes back to reporting the news and facts, then I would likely return. However, nothing I have seen in recent months gives me any faith in that happening.
  • Rickydross: What a stupid, non-sensical rant. He responded politely to a troll (Gazoobee) that consistently makes hateful and insulting comments on this site, and again another unnecessary one in this thread. And the author doesn't have the right to respond, even as mildly as he did? For you, that "broke the camel's back"? Nobody believes that you won't be visiting anymore, especially since you made a follow-up post just after that. Maybe get a thicker skin, since a mild comment by an author in a comment section makes you write off a site forever- but somehow, you're fine with all the troll posts. Something makes me think you're a troll to begin with, with your irrational reaction and attack against this site and Ritchie. I've been reading his stuff for a long time, and there's nothing "self-righteous" about his writing or posting.
  • Have you used it yet?
    It's hideous. It looks and feels like a child's toy. Psychologically, I had to look-away to be able to touch it.
    Nothing looks cheap and nasty like a rectangle of white plastic, and whatever it's made of, it looks and feels that cheesy. Retro turn-of-the-century technology that, like Flares, should never be seen again.
    The aluminium look&feel of the current trackpad… just feels like a solid 'work' device.
    Space Grey may be brown, but it would have been a more modern look than this. The Keyboard is not much better. One look at it and, again - I didn't want to touch the thing! I took to the MacBook keyboard immediately and I was hoping for the same keyboard here, to unify the experience. The keys are a completely different spacing on the MacBook and truly feel like the future. Apple missed a chance to standardise here. The Magic Keyboard seems to have different spacing again to both MacBook and Wireless Keyboard and it sucks. That 'I'm finally home' feeling you get when you use a Mac… is just missing from the new peripherals. Now I only feel 'at home' on my MacBook, and these peripherals may as well be a Windows device. The place for the charging port on the Mouse was on the side, as the top and bottom surface go right down to the desk. Aesthetically that sucks, but putting a hole on the bottom is just inviting dust & gunk. Speaks to the drop off in the use of the mouse. If you had to use it all day, you'd never go for the new mouse! This set of peripherals will go down in Mac history as bigger missteps than the hockey puck mouse. They should be replaced next year, or sooner, like the iPad 3, but given how long this update took, I'm not holding my breath. I'm normally a fan of Apple peripherals, but this is a doozy of a stuffup. Apple drops the ball. iMore picks it up, calls it gold and swears allegiance to the Emperor's New Clothes… yet again. Worthy of a Windows computer. No Stars. Really takes the shine off looking for a new iMac. Thanks Apple
  • Used the keyboard and the trackpad yesterday loved them both. I was thinking I would probably get the corded keyboard with number pad, but after using the new magic keyboard, I'm getting that and the trackpad with my new 27". The trackpad does not look or feel cheap in any way.
  • One of the most crazed, sensational, exaggerated, dramatic rants I've ever read- and all for an accessory update. Wow. "Really takes the shine off looking for a new iMac". Really? Honestly, there's something wrong with you if you actually believe that statement. Because, you know, no other options exist if you hate these so much, right?
  • I totally agree. That was really dumb.
  • My current trackpad sticks all the time and I'm looking forward to having one that won't.
  • As someone that only has used the MagicMouse on my iMac, aren't there more gestures available with the Trackpad? You did not mention any of those benefits. How would this work as a mini graphics tablet with apps like Photoshop?
  • Get a Wacom tablet instead of this overpriced Apple dung.
  • These products are the latest in a long line of completely useless Apple input devices. Apple keyboard? C'mon… you're kidding, right? Chiclet keys, no number pad etc. $129. Buy a Logitech Solar Keyboard K750. Usually can be had for about $60(US). Works great, NEVER needs charging. Basic Microsoft mouse about $12. Works like god built it himself.
  • Totally pointless comment - how do any of the examples you list provide a large trackpad experience which utilizes all of OS X's great trackpad gestures? How is a $12 basic mouse going to let you use OS X's gesture controls? You don't own a Mac of any kind do you and just got busted trolling...
  • What useless troll post. Also, just looked up that KB, and looks like complete shit. Maybe aesthetics mean nothing to you, but that doesn't mean everyone else is ok with ugliness. Also, I (and many others) do not need a number pad, so that just massively increases the size for nothing. Also, who are you trying to convince? I think everyone here is aware that there are like 50,000 other KBs and mice available made by other companies. Buy whatever the hell you want, but stop insulting others for their buying choices.
  • Love the size.
  • My kingdom for a magic keypad! The trackpad is great. I bought one for my imac, plugged it in, and was off to the races. Then I unplugged it and it stopped working. After a quick trip to the settings to figure out what was going on, I realized my iMac was still running Yosemite. One 6 gig download later I was force clicking all over the place. It's a weird experience getting a new input gesture. It's like the first time I got a mouse with a scroll wheel (life changer) only the use case is less obvious so I just have to try it in different programs and see what happens.
  • Tried it out in the store yesterday. The trickery it does on your sense of touch is amazing and I personally like the white color. I think I'll be ordering the 27" soon.
  • Hmm...
    After being talked into getting the magic keyboard, I'll have to give this magic trackpad 2 another look. I'm not put off by the color. "...Spill something on it"? Really? I would prefer black keys on the keyboard (and backlighting), but all this white is just fine. Beats the beige everything was when I first started using a Mac.
    .
    I'm locked into my iPhone 6 until next year so I don't get to play with Live Photos or 3D Touch yet. Gotta wait for the iPhone 7 (which is going to be just phenomenal!!)
    Maybe I'll play with Force Touch until then...
  • I hate that it's white and the keys on the new keyboard are white, new white mouse...it used to work when Apple sold white MacBooks and aluminum & white Macs (Mac Mini, iMac), but, there is no white in any of apple's products, only some accessories (...but why???). I'm very disappointed that apple couldn't just make the change and go with the MacBook's look, black, BACKLIT keys, silver, gray and gold colors for these new accessories. Instead they opted for the same decade OLD colors. (I've always hated white plastic). what happened to "think different", apple?
  • +10 for the use of "proprioception" Sent from the iMore App
  • Good review, but that statement about being stressed over the white color is kind of dumb. Also, is there a rule against proofreading a iMore?
  • It's not that dumb. White stuff discolors, and for something you'll be touching all the time, it's a valid concern. Not sure why Apple can't make their accessories match their devices (ie. silver/black) or at least as an option.
  • Does this new trackpad work for iPad too?
  • Not to be an @$$, but did you really think that question through? Of coarse the track pad works with the iPad, but only on the Air, unfortunately it's not compatible with the iPad mini.
  • So let me get this straight; 0.43 inches (109 mm) and 4.52 inches (1149 mm) deep. I do believe they're typos!
    1 metre = 1000mm. Also don't mix your mm and cm; stay consistent.
  • So, if I get this for my MBP 2012 I will gain Force Touch functionality?
  • One question on using it with old (pre Bluetooth 4.0) Macs – how will battery life be? I find with my late 2013 iMac with BT 4.0 it indicates usage of about 10% of battery per day (indicated in System Preferences).
  • I posted this in the Magic Mouse review too, sorry to double up but would really appreciate the community's help: I just received a new Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Keyboard yesterday-they look great. But I've had trouble with all 3 on a 2015 iMac 27" Retina-El Capitan: the Magic Mouse 2 causes reproducible kernel panics every time I disconnect it from the lightning connector, the trackpad only works with all functions when it's connected to via lightning to the computer and the keyboard's functions keys don't work! I updated to 10.11.1 and had the same issues as with 10.11, so no fix there....anyone else having these problems? I did provide feedback to Apple..thanks