Before you begin reading this review, please be aware there may be some harsh language throughout. Of course the editing stage may limit the language to only a few instances.
I am 32-years-old, and this is the first time I have ever thought the words, ‘Fuck, Apple!”
This week, Apple held an event showcasing the new MacBook Pro lineup. As rumours for the past few months had suggested, a smaller frame with increased power was revealed along with a better, brighter display and faster SSD. This new MacBook Pro came with a larger trackpad and even removed the light up Apple logo on the rear of the screen. Apple also included the new butterfly keyboard which means, goodbye click sounds when you type.
As an owner of a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, this was all the more enticing to me, but since my laptop is only three years old, I’m not in the need to upgrade anytime soon. But I was very happy watching this event and seeing the direction was moving toward.
That was until the reveal of the USB-C and Touch Bar.
Deep breath. No, Apple, just no.
For years I have been a big supporter of your products from the first generation iPod Shuffle right up to the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I use your devices on a daily basis and was proud to be an Apple consumer. However 2016 has been the year where I feel they have just about lost the plot.
iPhone 7 was released with a build almost identical to the iPhone 6s, yet included water proofing but removed the most basic feature of all, a 3.5mm headphone port. Every single day I use the headphone port to connect to my car radio, which although it has bluetooth connectivity, it is only for calls. So again, the headphone port is important to me. Everyday when I go for a walk or jog, I connect up via the port on my iPhone 6 without the fear of wear and tear on my headphone port. Everything just worked previous to the iPhone 7, yet Apple decided to remove the port because they were ‘brave’.
I mean come on, removing a basic feature and claiming you’re brave for doing so is like Ford removing seats from their newest cars because they were brave, and also wanted to save space. Well, of course it saves space removing a headphone port from a phone, but something that has been around for over 100 years and then suddenly deciding to banish it, is just crazy.
Look, Apple is all about saving space and giving us a thinner phone with each new incarnation, but where is the increase in battery size? Every year I hold out hope the next one will improve the battery to at least 24 hour minimum usage. Nope, not this year.
The standard battery in the iPhone 6 to 7 has gone from 1810 mA-h to 1960 mA-h battery. This is over the space of a two-year gap and improvements in battery technology. Even brand new, my iPhone 6 wasn’t able to last more than 10 hours with standard internet, music and phone usage. The iPhone 7 improves that by roughly a few hours, but still needs to be charged daily. With the removal of the 3.5mm headphone port, I would have thought Apple could have increased the battery size.
The iPhone 7 released with a depth of 7.1mm, but I would happily have sacrificed thickness of the body for a larger battery. Simply put more battery in it (more on that later). I hear people screaming for me to just buy the Plus model of the phone, and I will come back with, NO. I don’t need a phone that big, nor do I need a top of the range camera technology packed into it. Also on that, why can’t the iPhone 7 model have the battery camera to begin with, why do consumers need to move up a few hundred dollars to get an improved camera? The smaller form factor of the iPhone fits perfectly with my daily habits and most important of all, my hands.
Again, removal of the headphone port, tiny increase in battery and a push for bluetooth headphones. Don’t worry, I know that Apple includes lightning port headphones to use, or even a connection from lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack in the box, but again I will direct you to the above comments. I do not want to continue to plug and unplug into my lightning connection multiple times a day for fear of ruining the connection. The connection is flimsy and has been prone to breakage in the past. also, if I have my headphones plugged in and I need to charge my phone because of the battery, then I require an accessory to split the lightning connection up, and then need to connect the lightning to headphone jack so I can plug in an expensive pair of headphones with deeper base. Now my new iPhone 7 ends up looking like a Frankenstein creation just to charge and listen to music.
Oh, but why not just buy bluetooth headphones and connect up wirelessly? Because I don’t want that. Not going to lie, I have been looking at some wireless headphones with decent battery life for the past few months. I knew Apple would eventually kill the headphone port from the iPhone 7, but so far, the only really decent set would be costing $250 plus and that’s for the most basic. The more expensive you go, and the headphones suddenly decide not to include a mic for voice calls or basic controls for volume.
Again I wonder, what was Apple thinking?
Don’t get me wrong, the battery life and removal of the headphone port are forgotten by many because they can shower with a waterproof iPhone 7. And as cool as it would be to tweet while having a shower, there is a time and place for things like that. A shower isn’t one of those places.
Now we arrive at the latest Apple Event; the MacBook Pro reveal where Apple gave everyone the Touch Bar. No, this isn’t some sort of fetish nightclub where you are free to touch whoever you want, this is Apple attempting to give us a touchscreen experience without the touchscreen itself. I have a theory about this actually, and it’s really silly, but what else am I going to do on my blog?
My theory is if Apple gave us a touchscreen display on the MacBook Pro, then it would remove need for the iPad Pro range of products. We all know the tablet market has gained traction year after year even with a few minor dips. More than that, people seem to be okay with purchasing a new tablet every 12 to 24 months, where-as a laptop is more of 36 to 48 month cycle. So with this in mind, if the MacBook Pro came with a touchscreen display, than it would be in indirect competition with its own products and could potentially cannibalise its own sales. I know the theory is pretty far out there, but just something I have been thinking about especially when you consider the iPad Pro 12.9-inch with a Smart Keyboard stands up against most laptops.
Let me get stuck into the Touch Bar though. Replacing the function keys usually found above the numeric keys, the Touch Bar is a OLED bar with multi-touch capabilities and touch unlock features. It adapts to whatever the user has on-screen and gives extra commands to provide extra screen real estate for editing and creating.
I for one have always found it difficult to click the BOLD icon in a Pages document, and eagerly await the ease of just reaching up a few inches to press BOLD. So much easier than realigning my hand to click on it with the trackpad. Apple, you have done it again.
In case you can’t tell, the above was sarcasm.
Only days before Apple held the MacBook Pro event, Microsoft held their own event for their line of Surface products. Although expensive, one laptop held enough power to be used as a gaming laptop, and had a staggering 16 hour battery life. The comment the Microsoft representative used, “We put more batteries in the product.”
It is as simple as that. No need to slim down the product anymore, just throw more batteries in and give people a longer lasting product. Everyone is all about form factor and weight these days, and don’t get me wrong, I prefer a laptop that’s easy to carry around and doesn’t with me down, but at the end of the day I want portability. Microsoft’s new Surface Book performance laptop with 16 hour battery life has a beautiful form factor with a touchscreen display and a removable one at that, also comes with pen support for the screen. Most important of all, it weighs in at 3.68lbs where as the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar weighs in at 3.02lbs. Mind you it only has 10 hour battery life. No touchscreen. USB-C ports only. See where I’m going here?
This is all mind-blowing when you really stop to think about it. I have been locked into the Apple ecosystem for the past 10 years or so. Even longer when I take into account the iPod’s I have owned. As of current I own the following; iPhone 6, iPod Classic, iPod Nano, iPad Air, iPad Pro 12.9-inch and MacBook Pro with Retina Display and an Apple TV. I find these to be the easiest products to manage and use in the market, bar none. Android has always seemed like an easy to pick up OS, but since my laptop is Apple, the decision has always been easy to stick with them. Recently though, I’m second guessing that choice.
The more I hear about the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, the more I begin looking at other OS and how I can migrate my entire everything over. The removal of the SD card slot is a big thing, as is ditching the MagSafe connector in favour of USB-C. It makes sense with it comes to power, but the magnetic lock when it came to charging saved my laptop many times from falling off tables. And frankly, it was just a good indicator of when the laptop was charged with tiny LED light.
I know this entire blog has been nothing but me ranting about a large electronics company changing and adapting to the future. I know that USB-C will be the new standard across all devices within a few years, but forcing a high price for your products, and then making consumers shell out even more for adapters that should have already been included with the final product, is just laughable and greedy.
Not only that, but killing the MacBook Air 11-inch model and eventually killing off the 13-inch, forces those people who wanted a cheaper MacBook to now spend nothing less that $1999aus. This is just utterly disgusting. My girlfriend has been in the market for a new laptop for a while now. Currently she is using an 11-inch MacBook Air from 4 years ago. For her to upgrade, she can either buy a 13-inch MacBook Air for $1549aus with outdated technology from over two years back, or spend the extra $500 for a MacBook. Mind you, she would then need to spend a few hundred more just to have basic connections which she already has on a 4-year-old laptop. Did I also mention the Air range came with a 12 hour battery life as compared to the MacBook having 10 hours?
Since the Apple Event, I have been attempting to persuade her to go with a Microsoft Surface Pro or Surface Book, or simply stay in the Apple family and grab an iPad Pro 12.8-inch with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. This would clock in at $1689aus, a full $310 cheaper than the MacBook. You could even add an SD Card reader for $45aus and Lightning to USB 3 for $59aus. All this for $1793aus and still $206aus cheaper than a base model MacBook. I can personally only see the benefits of moving toward the iPad Pro especially because you get full touchscreen support, a direction Apple appears to be very apprehensive about moving toward for fear of making products redundant.
To finish this rant off, damn you Apple. you make gorgeous and easy to use products and although I am completely against your direction of sticking solely USB-C, I doubt me complaining will have a serious effect on their hardware sales going forward. Now the big question, will I continue to support Apple in all their future endeavours even with the crappy Touch Bar and lack of headphone port on the iPhone? Yes, I will. I’m an idiot and can’t help it.
Just one more thing.
For those saying you’re just a fanboy of Apple and you’ll buy everything Apple releases, that is not entirely true. Although the Apple Watch has been on sale since April of 2015, I am yet to own one for many reasons.
The first is the Apple Watch is not something I want sitting on my wrist during work days. You see, I’m a forklift driver and deal with chemicals at work. This requires me to constantly have gloves on or has me washing my hands every time I encounter said chemicals (not dangerous). If I owned an Apple Watch, it would mean that for 9 hours a day, the watch would be kept in my car or at home only to be used when going for my walk after work. It would be pointless to spend upwards of $579 (series 2) for that type of device. Also, the battery is another ‘all day’ type and needs to be charged at night.
Instead, I use various Fitbit products. My main Fitbit product is the Blaze. A smart watch which is more robust than an Apple Watch, has a 5-6 day battery life and even tracks my sleep patterns. It gives me notifications for all sorts of apps meaning that when I’m walking or jogging, my phone can stay in my pocket. Most important of all, it doesn’t require me to take out a bank loan to purchase it. It sells for $299aus and has put up with knocks, bumps and bad weather without an issue.
For my day-to-day work life though, I use a $50aus Fitbit Zip which I purchased on sale. It clips to my pocket and I forget its even there. So this combination is still cheaper than an Apple Watch and gives me all the features I need for a fitness tracker/smartwatch.
I don’t like the Apple Watch, it doesn’t appeal to me and frankly, I find that it looks rather disappointing and bland. I’m more a fan of the Samsung Gear s2 or s3. The design is more in line with a regular watch with smart features. Not the leapfrog toy that Apple released.