Today marks the fifth anniversary of the MacBook Pro 2015. In the five long years that have passed since then, Apple has struggled to replicate its success, highlighting a succession of laptops that excelled in some ways but which were hopelessly faulty in others.
Only the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro has been universally appreciated, but it’s expensive and too big for most people. After so many years of successful products, the 2015 model was the last truly excellent 13-inch MacBook Pro we’ve ever had.
With the anniversary forcing us to take a nostalgic look back in time, we thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on what the 2015 MacBook Pro 13 did so well – and what future models can learn from it.
A tough laptop
They say you don’t know how much you got until it was gone, and this is perhaps nowhere clearer than with the MacBook Pro 2015. It had a fantastic keyboard , a vibrating screen, numerous ports and an excellent touchpad, all associated with the manufacturing quality of the Apple brand and impressive performance under the hood. It was the quintessential Apple laptop.
These features weren’t revolutionary at the time, but we still liked them. The keyboard was one of the most comfortable you could find on a laptop, offering plenty of travel and excellent backlighting. The Retina display was crisp, beautiful, and color-true, and the trackpad was way ahead of its rivals, and these were rightly considered major attractions for the MacBook Pro.
But most importantly, the 2015 MacBook Pro was a “tough” laptop. The latest MacBook Pro to come with MagSafe, the popular magnetic power port. It was the last to come with ports like USB-A, HDMI and a full-size SD card slot. It was the last to offer the magic keyboard until its glorious return at the end of last year, and the last to be equipped with physical function keys.
It marked the starting point before Apple left its comfort zone and headed for unknown territory with the 2016 MacBook Pro.
When Apple decides to go in a different direction, there is no half measure. It does not crawl and does not crawl towards the new horizon, it slams on the pedal and the plant. Experienced Mac users will remember all too well that the company has abandoned floppy disks, Ethernet ports and CD drives of yesteryear.
In 2016, this feeling became too familiar.
One step forward, two steps back
The problem of the leap forward in the future? People are left behind. Especially with the MacBook Pro 2016, it was anyone who frequently used USB-A devices with their laptop.
Admittedly, people said the same thing when Apple abandoned the floppy disk. And, of course, Apple’s decision has caused the computer industry to kick and shout in the future USB-C. But a floppy drive can only accept one type of input. A USB-A port works with a wide range of different products, from mice to USB sticks to external storage, all of which would require adapters. The downside was huge, although USB-C was more attractive on paper due to its reversible nature and support for super-fast Thunderbolt 3.
Even the iconic Apple logo on the cover had lost its luster.
But it was much more than the ports. The redesign changed almost everything that was familiar with the old design. There was a new Force Touch trackpad and the entire Function line was replaced by the Touch Bar. Even the iconic Apple logo on the cover had lost its luster.
The most noticeable changes in the 2016 model – the Touch Bar and the new keyboard – seemed shocking and very different from those that preceded it. The Touch Bar was well, but still has not found that a killer is using or fully convinced of its usefulness. The butterfly keyboard, on the other hand, attracted strong criticism, with shallow movements and an unpleasant tendency to sticky keys. The changes only highlighted what had been sacrificed compared to the 2015 model.
The butterfly switch keyboard would end up being the only damaging error that Apple couldn’t take back. Something that every MacBook user took for granted – a quiet keyboard that’s durable and comfortable to use – no longer existed in the world of MacBook Pro. Apple has repeatedly tried to adjust and adjust the butterfly keyboard to no avail; the keys may have been larger and more stable, but they weren’t nearly as reliable.
This strikes at the heart of what made the MacBook Pro 2015 so great: all of its features felt good, whether new or improvements to past inclusions. It was the first MacBook Pro to be equipped with a Force Touch trackpad, for example, but this innovation seemed natural and frictionless.
Combine that with the faulty butterfly divider keyboard and you have a recipe for disaster. In past transitions, Apple has eased the pain by providing users with a device that may not have the features they were used to, but that has compensated for it with exciting new replacements or a brilliant user experience.
With the MacBook Pro 2016, we got nothing.
Legacy of the 2015 MacBook Pro
Apple was never going to fully revert to the MacBook Pro 2015. It’s not a company that ever flips, and even small policy reversals happen incredibly rarely. But faced with the problems of the butterfly keyboard, the legacy of the 2015 version was unavoidable: Apple had to bring back the Magic Keyboard.
Despite its name, the Magic Keyboard of MacBook Pro 16 is not the same as that of MacBook Pro 2015. Instead, it is rather an evolution that combines everything that was great with the magic keyboard to the former with the progress made in terms of stability by the butterfly keyboard. Ultimately, it’s an extension of the 2015 keyboard heritage, updated for a modern MacBook Pro.
We won’t have to wait much longer for another great 13-inch laptop from Apple.
We mentioned earlier that the MacBook Pro 16 is the first time that Apple has successfully returned to the heights of the 2015 MacBook Pro in the years after its debut. We hope, however, that we won’t have to wait much longer for another great Apple 13-inch laptop.
Apple is rumored to be planning a spring event where it will unveil a host of products, including a 13-inch version of the MacBook Pro 16 (or a replacement for a 14-inch screen). Like its big brother, it seems that the glasses are thin, the magic keyboard modernized and a thermal architecture redesigned to allow better performance. That’s exactly what we’ve been asking for since the 16-inch model made its long-awaited debut.
After seeing the fanfare that hosted the MacBook Pro 16, Apple would be foolish not to bring its advances to its small professional laptop. If that became a reality, it would make 2020 an incredible year for Mac fans. The long wait for a 2015 MacBook Pro 13 successor could finally be over.