Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch Hands-On: The Wait Is Over
December 6, 2019 Andrew Cheng

One of the biggest complaints against newer MacBooks over the past few years is the butterfly keyboard design. Not only does the flat keyboard offer very little key travel, quite a number of MacBook users report of reliability issues with the butterfly switch. Well, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro solves all of that.

Enter the new Magic Keyboard. Instead of a butterfly design, the keyboard uses a more traditional scissor mechanism, which should be much more reliable. On top of that, the keyboard layout sees some important changes too. If you’ve been waiting for Apple to fix the MacBook’s keyboard, this is it.

But beyond the new keyboard, is the 16-inch MacBook Pro any good? Let’s find out.

Right, so what’s so great about the new Magic Keyboard of the 16-inch MacBook Pro? As mentioned, it now uses a scissor mechanism, which offers 1mm of key travel; that’s about 0.5mm more than the older butterfly keyboard. Thanks to the longer travel, it doesn’t feel quite as jarring to type on.

That being said, I still consider this a pretty shallow keyboard. After all, only 1mm of key travel is hardly impressive. While the new Magic Keyboard isn’t quite as flat as the controversial butterfly keyboard, it doesn’t exactly offer a “pillowy” typing experience.

However, despite the short key travel, I actually enjoy typing on this keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, it still feels shallow, but the good tactile feedback and quiet nature of the keyboard make for a pleasant typing experience. Plus, there’s a physical Esc key now, along with the “inverted-T” arrow keys.

And then there’s the trackpad, which is absolutely huge. It looks a little odd, but I do appreciate the sheer size of the trackpad. There’s more than enough space for comfortable use, the simulated click is as refined as ever, and like any other MacBook trackpad, it can track my fingers very accurately.

Beyond its input devices, the other noteworthy hardware of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the…16-inch Retina display. It’s a 3072 x 1920 IPS screen, and as expected, it also supports Apple’s True Tone technology. Retina displays had always been colour-accurate and pleasant to look at, and the same still applies to this new MacBook Pro.

Design wise, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is largely similar to the now-discontinued 15-inch model; it’s just ever so slightly bigger than the latter in all three dimensions. At a glance, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two machines.

Build quality of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is unsurprisingly good too. After all, Apple products typically excel in this area. It feels rock solid, there are no rough edges, and I can lift the lid with only one finger. That being said, it’s worth noting that this is not exactly a lightweight laptop, tipping the scales at 2kg. But measuring only 16.2mm thin, it’s quite a slim machine.

Connectivity options of the new MacBook Pro is unchanged from the 15-inch version. It still has four USB Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, and nothing else. You still don’t get a dedicated card slot with the 16-inch MacBook Pro despite the fact that it is meant to appeal to creative professionals.

Speaking of which, under the hood of the 16-inch MacBook Pro are pretty beefy hardware. It can be configured with a 9th generation Intel Core i7 hexa-core processor; a reasonably powerful chip. But if you need the extra power, you can go all the way up to a Core i9 octa-core processor from the same generation.

In the graphics department, this MacBook Pro can be customised with an AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU, or a beefier Radeon Pro 5500M GPU – both come with 4GB of GDDR6 memory. Of course, there’s an option to get the 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6 memory instead, though you’ll probably have to fork out quite a bit of money for that piece of upgrade.

Rounding out the specifications of the 16-inch MacBook Pro include 16GB of RAM (upgradable to 32GB or 64GB), at least 512GB of SSD storage – you can configure it up to a whopping 8TB if you so desire – and of course, the Touch Bar with Touch ID authentication.

For the Malaysian market, there’s still no word yet on the exact availability of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the starting prices of the laptop have already been announced. The base model with a Core i7 processor paired with 16GB of RAM, a Radeon Pro 5300M GPU, and 512GB of SSD storage retails at RM10,499.

A tier up is the Core i9 model with a more powerful Radeon Pro 5500M GPU (4GB memory), 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD; this variant is set to go for RM12,199 in Malaysia. Without a doubt the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is a costly machine, but that has always been the case for MacBooks of this calibre.

If you need the size, power, and better typing experience of the 16-inch MacBook Pro – and you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem – I imagine you’ll be very happy with this machine. Sure, it commands a premium price tag, but you’re getting an equally premium laptop too. Hopefully, it’ll be available in Malaysia very soon.