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RIP Butterfly keyboard as Apple updates its most important Mac for creators

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Sahil Gupta is the founder and editor of warpcore. He has spent his entire career in mainstream media including stints at Gadgets 360, BGR India, India Today and more recently the Times of India Group where he led international franchise publications like Gizmodo India, PCMag India, TechRadar India and TechSpot India. Apart from having deep insight into consumer electronics trends and tech, he's also a music aficionado and pioneered the concept of thematic indie music events in New Delhi, India's capital. warpcore is a culmination of his career which has been spent on the intersection of technology and music.

Apple’s butterfly switch keyboard debuted in March 2015, it’s May 2020 and it is dead as it updates arguably its most important Mac product. Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro is its most important Mac as it cuts across both “pro” customers and more normal users who are looking for a savvier notebook. Hence this update to the butterfly keyboard is a welcome change and a huge deal considering the MacBook Pro has had the same keyboard for almost 4.5 years. 

Firstly, the good news is that Apple hasn’t changed the screen size in contrast to what the rumours suggested. You still get a 13-inch panel which is perhaps the optimal size if the notebook strives to attract all kinds of users. Apple has stuck to this and thank god for that. 

But the biggest problem with this machine was always the shallow and unreliable keyboard. More so on the “pro” models than the MacBook Air which got updated to the butterfly switch only in late 2018. By then Apple had refined the design of its butterfly keys making them quite reliable. The broader problem was always for the 13-inch MacBook Pro users as it was always the entry-point for a modern Mac. 

So for people like myself, who type a lot, and need to do light heavy-lifting via applications like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and tons of browsing this laptop now makes a lot of sense for the first time in years. For creators as well, this update is full of goodies – the base storage gets updated to 256GB which was pittance before this update. More than the amount of storage you are getting it is also worth noting, the speed of the SSD here — up to 3GBps of read and write speeds which is faster than the SSD on the soon to be released Xbox Series X console. It is also more than 3 times faster than the SSDs you will see on comparable Windows-based notebooks.

People will baulk at the 8th generation Intel Core i5 CPU, but the reality is that the difference in the main CPU of the 8th generation and the new 10th generation models is minuscule. Any Apple more than makes up for that performance deficit with the faster SSD. The main advantage of 10th generation is the GPU.

For users who need more heavy-duty processing, it will make sense to invest in the model starting at Rs 1,74,900 which now includes the Intel 10th generation processor alongside 16GB of DDR4X RAM as opposed to the 8th generation Intel CPU and 8GB DDR3 RAM. This is a huge jump in tandem with some software-based optimisations.

Arguably, musicians who depend on a lot of software that works seamlessly on Apple’s platform could benefit from this notebook. You know people like DJs and producers – who don’t need the graphical grunt provided by its 16-inch sibling.

Apple also notes that this notebook will deliver 10 hours of battery life which is an impressive number when one takes into account that the Cupertino-based company is very accurate about its battery figures. 

While all of these are nice things – the big thing to note is that this isn’t a radical update. Heck, most people wouldn’t even consider it to be an update if it weren’t for the inclusion of the magic keyboard which people awaited with bated breath. In essence, this is the same minor 2020 iPad Pro type leap which points to the larger question of a new MacBook redesign coming later this year? 

Apple has been rumoured to launch a new redesigned 16 and 14 inch MacBook models for 2020. Now that Intel’s new silicon is also available broadly chances of this happening is even likelier. Chances are the current models of the MacBook Pro will populate the entry-level of the notebook line while the new redesigns will take centre stage. 

For those who are in dire need of a new notebook, that too a Mac, this will make for a pretty sweet upgrade despite the expensive price. Why? Because apart from the design one shouldn’t expect a massive jump in usability — a larger display will not achieve that, nor will a sightly faster processor with in-built GPU. But what may happen is that the top-end version of this notebook may disappear in for newly redesigned models which will almost certainly be more expensive. So, this might be the only time you will get a top-tier 13-inch MacBook for less than Rs 1,75,000 affording the latest Intel chipset with 16GB RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. 

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