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Hands-on review: 13-inch MacBook Pro - the butterfly keyboard is finally dead

19 Jun 2020

After the success of the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the refresh of the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro fans like myself have been waiting for this refresh. Two months after the MacBook Air refresh, Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with better storage, keyboard, and processor improvement options. 

The Magic Keyboard

I have talked about the Magic Keyboard when I reviewed 16-inch MacBook Pro and the 2020 MacBook Air. This refresh brings the magic keyboard to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which was the last device supporting the old butterfly keyboard. 

I had a good experience with the butterfly keyboard on the MacBook Pro but faced problems with it on the MacBook Air. This lack of reliability with the old butterfly keyboard is the reason I am so happy with this change. 

The magic keyboard uses a scissor mechanism that enables 1mm key travel. This results in a smooth and satisfying typing experience. Each key sits on top of a rubber dome that helps it be more responsive, while also preserving more energy than previous designs. 

The magic keyboard also brings back the inverted-T arrow keys. This is supposed to make it easier to navigate through spreadsheets – however, I honestly never saw that as a problem. 

Another very welcome change was the addition of the separate escape key next to the touch bar. While this may seem like a minor change, it makes a big difference and shows that Apple listens to the needs of its fans. 

For the sake of comparison, I tried to go back to the butterfly keyboard after spending three weeks with the magic keyboard. I don’t know how I ever managed – I could feel the downgrade and missed the satisfying key travel. 

Performance

The MacBook Pro lineup is usually targeted towards creators and professional users that require a little bit more power from their laptop. 

This year the new MacBook Pro had significant spec bumps. Outside of the Keyboard change, the only other change was internal improvements. The MacBook Pro 13 inch is now available with up to 10th-generation quad-core Intel Core i7 processor as well as 32GB of memory. This boost results in up to 80% graphics performance (at least that’s what Apple claims).  To test this out, I tried to export a 20-minute 4K video and the laptop was able to do so faster than my older model. 

I also tried to open projects in Photoshop and Logic at the same time, left them open in the background and then opened and Apple Arcade game. The MacBook handled it like a champ. I was expecting to see that little beach ball pop up, but it did not.

Everything else 

I jumped to the 2020 MacBook pro from the 2019 model and I'm very happy that everything I need has been improved. The internals that were already great are now better, and everything I loved stayed! 

The unit I have is equipped with four Thunderbolt ports - perfect for plugging multiple accessories at the same time. The screen is still as amazing, as we have come to expect from Apple. The trackpad, speakers and Touch ID also do not disappoint. 

However, the camera is still very average and doesn’t support Face ID, but those two things will remain on my wish list for the 2021 MacBook Pro. 

Verdict

If you are in the market for a compact but powerful laptop then the MacBook Pro 2020 is perfect.  Having a MacBook Pro means you can shoot something on your iPhone, AirDrop it to your MacBook and then edit it in Final Cut Pro. 

With the typing experience improved and the insides bumped up and the Apple ecosystem now better than ever, the MacBook Pro is now an even more reliable tool for professionals.