For the past two years, users of the professional Mac laptop and desktop line-up have been seething with anger and frustration that has led many into the Windows PC market, even long-time Mac fans. Apple’s close review of their quality control and R&D teams for the Mac line must have led them stumbling in the wrong direction when it comes to looking for what professionals want out of a 2018 computer. They’ve either forgotten the Mac, or forgotten how Steve Jobs envisioned its future. Only Apple knows.
There have been many failures of the Pro line-up. The most obvious is the keyboard, of which numerous issues and complaints have been reported, such as the touch bar being a necessity when you upgrade to the higher models, which many dislike and don’t find as productive as the traditional function keys. Many have reported sticky keys, with crumbs and dust easily making their way through the keyboard, preventing users from typing. Also, annoyingly, the keyboard is too loud when you type.
This has also led to controversy over what customers want from a professional laptop. With Apple no longer including MagSafe, an SD card reader, USB 3.0 ports, and Thunderbolt, and replacing all that with USB-C ports, this led 2016 customers to believe that this would be the new norm for accessory companies to adapt to, creating peripherals for these connectors that may offer a better experience in the future. Yes, you can argue that USB-C is the future, providing a single port for data, transfer, external displays, and power, but getting rid of so much at a time where there are other technologies out there for these purposes is a deal breaker for consumers of the Pro laptop line.
Videographers and editors like myself need to buy an additional adapter to use an SD card. That’s ridiculous since you are already paying that hefty ‘Apple tax’ on everything Apple has ever produced.
Now it’s July 2018, and Apple has fixed a few problems with the keyboard. They’ve used a silicone membrane underneath each key with the new iteration of the MacBook Pro, supposedly eliminating the problem of sticky keys, loud typing and potentially increasing the operating lifetime of the keyboard due to preventing dust and crumbs entering it so easily.
The USB-C ports are still around, as is the touch bar. It’s almost as though Apple wants to keep this. It was, after all, the MacBook Pro gimmick of 2016.
However, many like myself do not enjoy having to use a swipe shortcut to control the volume, and many developers haven’t even jumped on board the touch bar bandwagon, nor even considered adding support for it in their apps. The way I see it, developers can see that the average professional consumer will not stand for the hefty price, let alone the other vulnerabilities that Apple has introduced into the MacBook Pro. Therefore, customers will go elsewhere due to developers thinking that the mass market of Mac users won’t be using the touch bar.
Now with this refreshed MacBook Pro, it always seems to end up with Apple fixing one problem that leads to another problem to solve. Having fixed the keyboard problem, the new Intel i9 processors have been causing heat issues. this isn’t an issue with the processor itself, but with how the laptop’s thermal engine is not powerful enough to cool it properly! This is called heat throttling on a CPU, and when upgrading from the i7, costs a whopping £300 extra to fix.
The 15-inch machine, all spec’d out, will set you back £6,700. For a computer, even a laptop like this, to have an issue as big as this would surely leave customers fuming! According to Apple, this has all been patched, but I disagree! Popular tech YouTuber Jonathan Morrison had compared the rendering times of a 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with the i9 before and after the patch.
The i9 barely shaved off any render time when the Adobe apps or Final Cut Pro X were used to render high-quality video, despite the same CPU being use. Essentially, the i9 is a waste of £300 of an upgrade. Final Cut, however, made the biggest impact, as the i9 shaved off 4–5 minutes when exporting a 4K ARRI 4K PRORES 422 HQ>4K.H.264, 3M 44S TIMELINE. I predicted better results than that, unfortunately. I guess Apple needs to redesign the thermal engine.
Another chip being used is Apple’s T2 chip, which has been in the iPhone since the iPhone 6, with the T1, which enables “Hey Siri” support, handles security for the SSD so it runs even faster, and manages the Mac system overall. Now, this chip has actually been reported to crash the entire system.
According to VentureBeat:
“Apparently, the Bridge OS crashes cease when the T2 chip’s functionality is disabled, though Apple has offered a variety of other solutions while its engineers quietly updated the Bridge OS software. In some cases, the company has blamed and replaced hardware — without fixing the issue — while in others it has suggested wiping the computer’s hard drive and beginning fresh. Other workarounds include disabling FileVault and Power Nap, features that use the T2 for storage and power management.”
UPDATE — 9 Aug 2018: A month after the release of the new 2018 MacBook Pro’s. Users are now experiencing crackling sounds from the laptop’s speakers. After several users reporting to Apple’s support communities and other online forums. Apple has been focusing on the sound with this refresh that improves the overall audio quality, though some macs are being hit with the crackling annoyance. The issue is affecting both the 13-inch & 15-inch models when listening to music or watching videos. Yet Apple has been silent on this one — pun intended. No fix has been made. So far the 2018 MacBook Pro’s, yet again hasn’t had a good rep.
What is going wrong for Apple? Have they lost that spark in quality control or have they forgotten about the Mac for so long that now they’ve lost their way or are trying to play catch-up? Personally, I just want the touch bar as an option for professionals and not forced upon us, the ports to be back to what they used to be, with maybe one or two USB-C ports, and for Face ID to be implemented—Windows Hello is a far easier way to unlock your laptop than a fingerprint sensor.
It’s a confusing time to be in the market for a new MacBook Pro. Apple seems to show appreciation by releasing adverts for their new “Behind the Mac” campaign, new MacBook Pros, and patches for what they’ve essentially screwed up on many occasions.
Professionals out there are relying on Apple’s handiwork to provide them with quality machines. We rely on them for our work here at Techmanity. The way I look at it, the MacBook Pro is not a pro machine anymore. That was what Apple was known for being good at, but I don’t see it now.