New MacBook Pros get powerful new M1-based chipsets, new design, MagSafe and more; new AirPods lean towards the AirPods Pro when it comes to design, features but miss out on foam tips and ANC 

Close to a year ago, Apple announced that it was at the beginning of a 2-year journey that would result in the entire Mac line-up adopting Apple developed ARM-based silicon. It started with the M1 which powers the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini. Earlier this year, Apple added the new 24-inch iMac to the list. Today, Apple has announced two new Pro models – the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro. 

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While a model refresh was in the offing, the important thing to note is that these two laptops get the option of two heavily upgraded versions of the deeply impressive M1 – the M1 Pro and the M1 Max. Both get 10-core CPUs with 8 high performance cores and 2 high efficiency cores. The M1 Pro gets a 16-core GPU(with up to 32GB of unified memory), while the M1 Pro Max gets a 32-core GPU(with up to 64GB of unified memory). Apple is making some bold claims with regard to the performance of these new chipsets. But considering how the M1 practically blew all competition away and, for the most part, delivered on what it promised, not many would bet against Apple here. For starters, Apple claims that these new processors are 70 percent faster when it comes to CPU tasks than the M1 with the M1 Pro and M1 Max being two and four times faster on GPU tasks respectively. 

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Both the 14-inch (14.2-inch screen size) and 16-inch (16.2-inch screen size) MacBook Pros can be had with either the M1 Pro or the M1 Max. Unlike last year’s M1-powered models, Apple has gone for a comprehensive update here with changes to the design, display and more. Encased in an enclosure made of recycled aluminium, the MacBook Pros get rounded edges with a number of ports currently missing on the MacBooks they replace. There are now three Type-C Thunderbolt ports, a MagSafe port(bringing back memories of MacBooks of old), an HDMI port and an SD-card reader. With all the performance under the hood, the new MacBooks are understandably bulkier – the 14-inch Pro weighs 1.6kg and the 16-inch Pro weighs 2.1kg. 

The displays now feature Liquid Retina XDR with mini LED technology like on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro along with Pro Motion (adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz) like on the Pro iPhones this year. Apple claims that the display panels can maintain 1000nits of sustained brightness which should help when using the laptops outside. Towards the top of the screen, you will see an iPhone like bathtub notch which houses the new 1080p camera. Interestingly, even with the updated camera module, there is no support for Face ID. Instead, you can log in to your device using the Touch ID on the keyboard. Speaking of the keyboard, Apple has ditched the Touch Bar that, unfortunately for Apple, never found mass acceptance. In its place is a full row of function keys. 

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Both the MacBooks pack in a six-speaker sound system comprising of two tweeters and four woofers under the grilles on the side of the keyboard. Also, doing duty are some studio quality mics. Even with all the added performance and the high-res OLED panel, Apple’s commitment to its ARM-based silicon has allowed it to extract extraordinary battery life with the 14-inch model boasting of 17-hours of video playback and the 16-inch model stretching that to 21 hours. To make things even better, these two MacBooks get fast charge capability with 50 percent charge achieved in 30 minutes. 

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Apart from the differing footprints and corresponding battery/screen sizes, the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch MacBook Pro can pack in the same internals, if optioned accordingly, giving power users the choice to pick a size that they are comfortable with, something that was not possible before. Both models come with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage by default and start at Rs. 1,94,900/- for the 14-inch model and Rs. 2,39,900/- for the 16-inch model. 

With these two models, Apple has made an important distinction when it comes to the size, with the 13-inch models(Air and Pro) now targeted towards most users and the larger MacBooks meant for people with far more demanding workflows. 

Apple also announced the new 3rd gen AirPods at its ‘Unleashed’ event. While it received significantly less air time, the AirPods are arguably a far more important product for Apple that caters to a much larger section of Apple customers. 

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For the new AirPods, Apple seems to have drawn inspiration from the AirPods Pro. There is now a new design with shorter stems. Sadly, Apple has decided to give the foam tips of the AirPods Pro a miss. There are pressure sensors on the stems for controls just like on the AirPods Pro. The 3rd gen AirPods also get a new custom driver with a high dynamic range amplifier which should theoretically improve bass and help with the highs respectively. 

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The new 3rd gen AirPods, like the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max get spatial audio (essentially support for Dolby Atmos – an important addition for when you will be watching movies). The AirPods Pro’s Adaptive EQ also makes it in to the AirPods. These new AirPods also get sweat and water resistance for ease in use while working out. A wireless charging case comes as standard with support for MagSafe. On the battery front, the AirPods get an additional hour of playtime taking battery life to 6 hours with an additional 4 full charges in the case. The new AirPods are priced at Rs. 18,500/-. Interestingly, the 2nd gen AirPods will also be available, albeit at a lower price point. 

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Both the MacBook Pros as well as the AirPods can be ordered starting today. They will be available from October 26, 2021.