The moment many a Mac power user has been waiting for has finally arrived: Apple today announced its new ARM-powered 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros, including an all-new design and superpowered versions of Apple’s M1 chip, dubbed M1 Pro and M1 Max. There were a few other announcements too; here’s what you need to know.
Apple Music Voice Plan
Apple today announced the Apple Music Voice plan, which is basically a $5 discount to try to get people to actually use Siri. For $4.99 a month, users can access Apple Music’s entire catalog of music, podcasts, playlists, and stations — including unlimited skips. The caveat is… you have to ask Siri to play the music.
Voice Plan aside, Apple says it’s adding a bunch of playlists curated to for different moods; you can say stuff like “play something chill” or “play the dinner party playlist.”
The Apple Music Voice Plan will be available later this fall in 17 countries. Naturally, it’s only available for devices that support Siri.
The HomePod Mini gets new colors
The HomePod Mini now comes in orange, yellow, and blue. That’s nice.
The new colors are available in November for the same price of $99.
It finally happened: Apple announced the oft-rumored AirPods 3. The new design looks a lot more like the AirPods Pro, and offers many of the same features. Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ are both onboard, allowing for an immersive experience that’s better tuned for your ear. However, there’s no noise canceling, and the headphones don’t use silicone tips to provide a seal (which some people prefer).
The new AirPods also offer 6 hours of listening per charge, with a total of 30 hours when you include the case. You can also get an hour of use with a 5-minute charge, and wireless charging is now included in the case.
The AirPods 3 are up to pre-order today for $179, and will be available next week.
M1 Pro and M1 Max
We got not one, but two new chips from Apple today. Rather than the long-rumored ‘M1X,’ we got ‘M1 Pro’ and ‘M1 Max,’ and they are essentially increasingly larger versions of M1. As expected, they appear to be ridiculously powerful while maintaining excellent efficiency.
Apple made a big show of how powerful these new chips are, comparing it to the M1 — which is already one of the most powerful notebook chips available.
Specifically, the M1 Pro has 33.7 billion transistors, leading to 70% faster CPU performance than the M1 and 200% faster GPU performance. The 10-core CPU packs eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores, while the GPU packs 16 cores. The M1 Pro supports up to 32 GB of unified memory.
The M1 Max, meanwhile, packs 57 billion transistors. While CPU performance appears to be roughly the same as the M1 Pro, with the same 10-core setup, the GPU doubles in size with 32 cores. It supports up to 64 GB of unified memory.
When it comes to its Windows competition, Apple says M1 Pro and Max are “up to 1.7x faster than the latest 8-core PC laptop chip,” specifically comparing it to the Intel Core-i7 11800H, which is one of the best laptop processors around. Perhaps more notably, Apple claims it matches the 11800H running at full throttle using 70% less power.
The GPU claims for the M1 Max are particularly impressive: Apple claims it can provide “comparable” performance to “the highest-end GPU in the largest PC laptops while using up 100 Watts less power.” In other words, Apple is saying it can nearly match the laptop version of the Nvidia 3080 in a far slimmer and more efficient package.
14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros
Based on the above, we already know the new Mac Pros are going to be super powerful, but they also offer an all-new design… including a notch. On a laptop.
Once you get over that quirk, the new MacBook Pros look like an exciting update for Mac power users. The new laptops come in 14 and 16-inch screen sizes, although thanks to slimmer bezels (and that notch), they are pretty much the same size as the earlier 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros.
Notably, both laptops can be configured with either the M1 Pro or the M1 Max, so you’re mainly paying for a bigger screen and battery with the 16-inch model unless there are thermal limitations to the smaller models we’re unaware about.
Speaking of those displays, they now offer even higher pixel densities and the same Mini LED technology in the iPad Pro for greater brightness and contrast. Apple says the screens can reach 1000 nits of sustained brightness and 1,600 nits peak. The speakers have been improved too, with two larger tweeters and four woofers that provide “80% more bass.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise is how Apple is once again embracing ports for Pro users. You get three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, and an SDXC card slot. Even the headphone jack has been improved, with enough power to support high-impedance headphones. And just as rumored, MagSafe has returned as well.
Battery life also gets a massive improvement compared to their Intel predecessors; Apple claims 17 hours of video playback for the 14-inch model, and 21 hours for the 16-inch model. They also charge much faster too — up to 50% in 30 minutes.
The new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros are available to pre-order today starting at $1,999 and $2,499, respectively. The models will be available beginning Tuesday, October 26.
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