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New notch, more ports, MagSafe charging: 5 big changes in the new MacBook Pro 2021 vs last year's model

By AYIE LICSI Published Oct 19, 2021 5:54 pm Updated Oct 19, 2021 6:00 pm

This year, Apple made major changes to its MacBook Pro line—and it's not just because of the more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets. The tech giant made a lot of power users happy by bringing back a lot of fan-favorite features to the 2021 lineup that people have been clamoring for a while now.

Let's compare this year's models with the first 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, which was launched last year, and see some of the biggest changes between them.

Notched display

This is probably the change that most people will notice first. The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set apart from previous MacBooks with the notched display. This was done to reduce the size of bezels and give the device a bigger screen.

In addition, the new Apple notebooks are also the first from the brand to use Mini-LED screens and have an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. And compared to last year's M1 laptop, the new ones have a higher peak brightness of 1,600 nits.

Goodbye Touch Bar

Since its introduction in 2016, the Touch Bar was met with mixed reviews among Apple users—though most people hated it. While it sounded great as a concept, not many users were able to use it intuitively, and macOS updates didn't really improve upon it. This year, the tech giant ditched the strip of screen above the keyboard for physical function keys.

The return of ports and MagSafe charging

Aside from the Touch Bar, there was another controversial move that Apple made in 2016: removing most of the ports. This caused many MacBook users to rely heavily on USB-C dongles to plug in HDMI cables, flash drives, SD cards, and more.

Thankfully, Apple brought back these much-needed ports for improved connectivity. Users will get three Thunderbolt 4 or USB-C ports, an HDMI port, an SD card slot, and an improved 3.5mm audio jack.

In addition, MagSafe charging also made a comeback. Apple reintroduced it to the new generation laptops so they could be capable of fast charging and to give users an alternative charging option.

This magnetic power plug was first rolled out in 2006 and phased out in 2015 in favor of USB-C charging. Users found this propriety feature a lifesaver—if you tripped over your charger, the connector would simply pop out and not bring down your whole laptop crashing to the floor in the process.

Immersive audio experience

During the Unleashed event, Apple boasted that the new laptops would have "the best audio system ever in a notebook." While the 2020 M1 MacBook Pro was equipped with stereo speakers, the 2021 models take audio to another level with a six-speaker system capable of spatial audio. Whether users will watch movies or listen to music, they can expect a theater-like experience with the virtual surround sound feature.

Game-changing performance

Finally, the feature that really makes these pro MacBooks made for pros: the chipset. The 2021 models are fitted with either M1 Pro or M1 Max, which both boast a more powerful performance than last year's impressive M1 chip.

Apple claims that the M1 Pro will offer 70% faster CPU performance and two times faster graphics thanks to its 16-core GPU. On the other hand, the M1 Max scales up on the Pro chip's capabilities with a 32-core GPU, which Apple says is capable of four times faster GPU performance compared to the first M1.

Here's a side-by-side comparison to see how they differ.

MacBook Pro 2020 (13-inch)

MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch)

MacBook Pro 2021 (16-inch)

Display

13.3-inch Retina display 14.2-inch Liquid Retina display (120Hz) 16.2-inch Liquid Retina display (120Hz)
Size 1.56 x 30.41 x 21.24 cm, 1.4 kg 1.55 x 31.26 x 2.12 cm, 1.6 kg 1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81 cm, 2.1kg
CPU 8-core Apple M1 10-core Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max 10-core Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max
GPU 8-core GPU 32-core GPU 32-core GPU
RAM Up to 16GB Up to 64GB Up to 64GB
Storage Up to 2TB SSD Up to 8TB SSD Up to 8TB SSD
Connectivity 2 Thunderbolt, Touch Bar, Touch ID, 3.5mm audio jack 3 Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, SDXC, 3.5mm audio jack, Touch ID 3 Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, SDXC, 3.5mm audio jack, Touch ID
Audio Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos 6-speaker sound system with Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio 6-speaker sound system with Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio

Camera

720p FaceTime HD camera 1080p FaceTime HD camera 1080p FaceTime HD camera

Battery life

20 hours 17 hours, MagSafe 3 21 hours, MagSafe 3

Price

P71,990

P116,990 (M1 Pro)

P170,990 (M1 Max)

P146,990 (M1 Pro)

P206,990 (M1 Max)