Insight on the Keyboard, Speakers + Performance of the All-New 16-Inch MacBook Pro

From the return of the escape key to substantial spec upgrades inside and out

With today’s debut of Apple‘s all-new 16-inch MacBook Pro (an evident upgrade from the previous 15-inch iteration), the design team once again maximized functionality in conjunction with size (now 16.2mm thick) and weight (4.3 pounds). Hot off their announcement of the world’s best Pro Display XDR and an advanced Mac Pro machine, both available this December, Apple’s latest laptop strengthens their line-up in the pro sector to its strongest ever. Several upgrades contribute to the new MacBook Pro’s enhanced value—especially regarding its keyboard, speaker system and all-around performance. Of course, there’s the captivating 16-inch Retina display (of 3072 by 1920 pixels at 226ppi) with 500 nits of brightness and P3 wide color gamut. But that superior visual experience is only part of what impressed us while we toyed with the product.

A quick glance at the keyboard reveals the return of the escape key (set beside a more refined touch-bar). For this alone developers may delight, but that’s not all that’s noticeable. Apple has moved away from their butterfly keyboard and pushed the essence of their Magic Keyboard further and incorporated the results. The keys here have been reconfigured based on several human factors and—with regard to key design—acoustics, accuracy and tactile perception all play a big role. For this, a new stable key was invented, based upon a reimagined rubber dome and a redesigned scissor mechanism. When touching each, or simply typing away at many, there’s a satisfying physical response—but it’s much quieter than expected. As we compare it alongside 2015’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, the typing experience is far more finessed.

Six internal speakers deliver a swell of sound that’s louder, clearer and deeper than expected. Part of this pertains to the fact that Apple has placed the laptop’s woofer drivers back-to-back, allowing each to cancel out the others’ vibration force. This is a patented system and definitely merits attention as laptop sound systems generally distort songs. The MacBook Pro has one other audio development: the inclusion of three studio-quality mics. With technology that rivals that of professional digital microphones, the notebook picks up clear sound with natural hiss-reduction. This should be beneficial to podcasters and recording artists alike.

As expected, the MacBook Pro features a laundry list of performance upgrades. There’s a reimagined thermal architecture inside that increases airflow and delivers 12 more watts of power. From the six-core and eight-core ninth-generation processors to the 64gbs of memory and up to 8TB SSD storage, capabilities and speed increase. There are also AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics. Apple claims that the battery (the largest ever in a MacBook Pro) will offer 11 hours for both wireless web and video usage. This, too, sets a new standard. During our time with the computer, we weren’t able to test that claim, but can attest to the machine’s speed and clarity—and its ability to handle several exceptionally large tasks at once. The only thing that hasn’t changed: the four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Though, now they can handle two simultaneous Pro Display XDRs.

The 16-Inch MacBook Pro is available to order today and will be rolling out by the end of the week. Primary configurations will start at $2,399 and $2,799—with options for further customization. It’s worth mentioning that Apple also offers a trade-in program for MacBooks at their retail stores.

Images courtesy of Apple