MacBook Pro (M2, 13-inch) review: Is the M2 chip worth the upgrade?
MacBook Pro M2, 13-inch: 60-Second Review
At a glance, it might seem like nothing has changed with the new MacBook Pro 13-inch, but under the bonnet, there’s one mighty upgrade that’ll knock your socks off. Apple has added its all-new M2 system-on-a-chip, which helps it breeze through even the toughest tasks without a hint of a stutter. The M2 is around 35 percent faster than the 2020 MacBook Pro running the M1 chip, but it keeps the same price tag – that might make this one of the best MacBook Pro deals out there.
Thanks to that improved M2 silicon, there is also support for up to 24GB of faster, unified memory, which makes things feel even faster and more fluid. Along with oodles of power, that new processor is also super-efficient meaning you can head out for the day and not worry that the battery is going to run dry.
There’s no question that the new MacBook Pro 13-inch is a highly capable machine, but it does stick out like a sore thumb in Apple’s range of laptops. All of the Californian firm’s latest machines, including the upcoming MacBook Air, boast edge-to-edge screens, MagSafe charging, and real function keys rather than the controversial Touch Bar found on the MacBook Pro 13-inch.
At £1,349 this might be the cheapest MacBook Pro you can buy, but if you want all of the very latest innovations and best features from Apple, you might want to check out the upcoming MacBook Air or splash a little more to get the redesigned 14-inch MacBook Pro.
MacBook Pro 13.3-inch full review
The MacBook Pro 13-inch is one of Apple’s most popular laptops and it’s not difficult to see why. This notebook has long offered a way to take enormous amounts of computing power with you on the road.
The new model, which launches later this week, comes packed with the very latest M2 chip under its bonnet which is over 30 percent more powerful than Apple’s previous M1 brains. That sounds impressive, but what’s this MacBook really like to use and is it worth your money? Express.co.uk has been putting to the test and here’s our review
– that might make this one of the best MacBook Pro deals out there.
The Pro is still light enough to use on the road
If you’re expecting some radical rethink, you’re going to be disappointed. The new MacBook Pro 13-inch hasn’t had the same redesign as the recently launched 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros or the upcoming MacBook Air (also powered by the M2 chip).
It means you’ll get a laptop with pretty chunky bezels around the screen, just two USB-C ports (no MagSafe to be found here!) and the controversial Touch Bar – a feature that’s been ditched from all other models. Apple has clearly kept things the same in a bid to make sure the 13-inch Pro remains affordable, but that also means it’s simply not as impressive or exciting as other laptops in the range.
Even the new MacBook Air, which is £100 cheaper, gets a more expansive 13.6-inch screen, upgraded webcam, new MagSafe charging, and more ports (on both sides of the notebook) to plug-in accessories.
There’s nothing physically wrong with the new 13-inch MacBook as it still boasts the market-leading Force Touch trackpad, a nice Retina screen, and solid keyboard …but those who want the very best features will need to splash some more cash and upgrade to the new 14-inch/16-inch models, which include the all-screen design, MagSafe, SD Card reader and HDMI ports, and other much-needed extras for professionals.
Apple’s all-new M2 system-on-a-chip is mightily powerful and incredibly efficient
M2 Processor and Battery Life
The latest MacBook Pro 13-inch now features Apple’s new M2 silicon and if you want a portable PC that offers premium performance you’re in for a treat. This new chip is supremely powerful and can munch through tasks with undeniable ease.
We’ve been running professional video and photo editing software on the new MacBook and there’s not been a hint of a stutter.
A quick Geekbench 5 test also reveals that it beats the older M1 chip when it comes to single and multi-core performance and there’s no doubt this laptop will cope with most takes that users will throw at it.
The entry-level machine gets an 8-Core CPU and 10-Core GPU, which helps it produce some mightily impressive graphics. With Apple announcing plans to boost its gaming credentials in the future this M2 upgrade should make sure the Pro can keep pace with the upcoming titles such as Resident Evil Village and No Man’s Sky, which will launch soon on macOS.
The base machine also gets 256GB of SSD storage with users able to upgrade to 512GB for an extra £200.
Along with being far more powerful, the new MacBook Pro is also way more efficient. Apple is boasting that users could see 20 hours on a single charge when performing simple tasks.
That’s probably not far off the truth as we’ve been working and playing on this machine from morning until night and managed that without it needing a refill. That incredible efficiency also means this laptop stays cool no matter how hard you push – that’s something that can’t be said for thigh-melting Intel-powered machines.
Unlike the new 14-inch and 16-inch models there’s no edge-to-edge screen
The Touch Bar Is Back!
The Touch Bar has been a Marmite feature from the moment it was unveiled. Some people still love this ever-changing display that runs across the top of the keyboard whilst it’s left others far from impressed.
We’ve always quite liked this mini screen that switches depending on the application you are using but even Apple clearly felt it wasn’t working as the firm has removed it from the new 14-and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
With it gone from all but one MacBook, we can’t imagine that the Touch Bar is top of Apple’s to-do list and it seems unlikely that any new features or upgrades will be coming to this screen in the future.
There’s nothing wrong with this technology (we actually quite like it) but it’s a little strange the MacBook Pro 13-inch is still sticking with the Touch Bar when it’s been ditched from every other new design to leave the R&D labs in Cupertino.
The new MacBook Pro 13-inch is the only laptop left with a Touch Bar
Extras worth a mention on the MacBook include some very good Stereo speakers, fast Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, and a slight improvement to the FaceTime HD webcam.
Sadly, this video call maker hasn’t been upgraded to full 1080p found on the upcoming MacBook Air and 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the 720p quality is still better thanks to the M2’s advanced image signal processor. If you spend all-day in video calls, you might want to look at another model in the Apple line-up.
Apple MacBook Pro review
UK Price and Availability
The ageing hardware design of this MacBook Pro might not be to everyone’s tastes, but one big advantage of Apple keeping things exactly the same is that it’s able to keep the price low. You can pick up this new machine for £1,349 – that’s over £500 cheaper than the 14-inch Pro. The price certainly feels very good value, and that’s sure to be one of its biggest attractions when customers walk into the Apple Store.
If you want to get a discount on your brand-new MacBook Pro, we’ve rounded up the best MacBook Pro M2 deals in a comprehensive guide.
MacBook Pro M2, 13-inch review: Final Verdict
The refreshed MacBook 13-inch is an absolute beast, thanks to Apple’s new supercharged M2 processor. There’s very little this notebook can’t cope with, so don’t be afraid to launch humongous Photoshop projects, edit hours of footage on Final Cut, or code the next iOS sensation on your lap, desk, or train seat.
Better yet, the efficiency gains of the new M2 ensures your lap never gets too hot and you won’t need to constantly check you’re near a plug.
What We Loved
- All-New M2 Processor Is A Beast
- Great Battery Life
- No Price Increase With M2
What We Didn’t Love
- Design Feels Incredibly Outdated
- No Magsafe To Save Your Laptop From Flying Off The Table
- No Edge-to-Edge Screen Design
- Touch Bar Remains Controversial
At £1,349, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch is surprisingly good value, especially since you’ll benefit from Apple’s market-leading build quality, years and years of software updates and security patches, and the impressive Force Touch and Magic Keyboard.
It’s hard to fault the Macbook Pro when it comes to performance …but it’s a real shame that owners of this £1,349 machine will be stuck with an ageing design that feels incredibly dated.
The Retina display lacks that stunning bezel-free appearance (which enables the 14-inch MacBook Pro and all-new MacBook Air to squeeze bigger screens in an almost identical size case), you’ll only find two USB-C ports (both on the same side, which makes plugging into power and displays as you hot-desk much more of a nuisance), the webcam has fallen behind every other MacBook, and MagSafe charging (which magnetically detaches when someone trips over the cable and saves your pricey notebook from flying across the room) is nowhere to be seen.
If you love the Touch Bar – it’s great news as this is the only MacBook that gets this technology, but even that seems slightly odd as Apple has ditched this design from its more premium machines. As such, we can’t imagine many new software innovations in macOS or third-party developers coming to this OLED touchscreen.
And yet …if you’re desperate to own a MacBook Pro and don’t want to spend a fortune, this new laptop won’t let you down. It’s fast and has great battery life.
However, before you buy it just make sure the new MacBook Air wouldn’t be a better choice, or you can’t save a few more pennies and grab the brilliant 14-inch MacBook Pro.