Thoughts on the 14” MacBook Pro
Well, my normal work MacBook Pro, a 2021 16” MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro inside had to go into shop this week so I seized the opportunity to give a 14” MacBook Pro a spin as my work laptop for the last week. In many ways the 14” MacBook Pro is simply a smaller, more portable version of the 16” MacBook Pro in the sense that it has the same design language and ports of the battleship of a laptop that is the 16” model, but that seize difference does make the machine infinitely more portable.
Screen: It’s funny, but I do find the extra inch on the 14” MacBook Pro versus the 13” MacBook Air to actually make a difference. The edge-to-edge nature of the machine makes it feel like the content is floating in the air in front of you when you’re working on it and I really enjoy that effect. Maybe its because I’m used to working with a larger canvas, but I find myself using MacOS’s fullscreen mode a LOT more on the smaller laptop. I can normally have an iPhone-sized application floating to the right of what I’m working on with the 16” MacBook Pro. You can do the same with the 14” MacBook Pro, but I do find that I end up collapsing toolbars and hiding applications.
Notchbar: I use a LOT of menubar applications and Bartender/Vanilla are one of the first applications that I install on my laptop. I have found because of the smaller screen size and notch I have to be a bit more aggressive about apps hiding themselves. Its not a deal-breaker, but its just something to keep in mind. I much rather have the extra screen hide that the notch allows for by putting the menu bar up there, but if you have a lot of menu bar apps its a small adjustment you will need to make.
Portability: The weight on the 14” MacBook feels a lot more centered towards the center of the laptop. The machine is a lot less awkward to just pick up with one hand and walk around than the 16” MacBook Pro. The 16” MacBook Pro is so long it feels like you really need to put it in a bag to be safe, but the 14” when it shuts is just so solid feeling like you’re picking up a completely solid block of metal. If you’re used to carrying an iPad with the Magic Keyboard the weight will feel similar. The current 16” MacBook Pro got both thicker and heavier in the last revision. The 14” MacBook Pro feels much easier to just grab and go.
Power and Battery Life: I have not really stress tested the 14” MacBook Pro, but it does feel just as responsive as the 16” MacBook Pro, but I have noticed that the battery life is not quite as good. I can work for hours on the 16” MacBook Pro on battery and not notice much of a drain, but not so on the 14” MacBook Pro. I think the battery is simply bigger on the larger laptop. That’s one sacrifice for portability I support. The battery is still better than a lot of other laptops I’ve used over time, but I guess the 16” MacBook Pro has just spoiled me.
Final thoughts: I think I may make this laptop my next personal Mac in the fall next time I’m due for an upgrade. I like the power of the 16” MacBook Pro while being in a more portable package, which is great when you’re going to a cafe or working from the couch. I still prefer the 16” MacBook Pro as my workhorse at work simply because of the larger screen real estate and longer battery life. If I’m working behind a screen for 8+ hours a day I feel like the 16” MacBook Pro is just more comfortable and I have to do a lot less window management and full-screens apps than the 14” MacBook Pro. I’m often multitasking at work, jumping between multiple projects, chat apps, emails, etc, but when I’m traveling or at home I’m typically just working on one thing at a time. I can see how most people like the 13” and 14” Macs, but as somebody who has always had a 15” or larger laptop it just feels a little cramped to me. Honestly, if you need a Pro Mac the 14” MacBook Pro is probably the machine you should look at first. It has the ports that you want and a great mix of power and battery life for most projects. I think the average person should start with the MacBook Air or iPad Air though. The M1 processor is more than powerful for what most people do at home and honestly most people simply do not plug in a lot of accessories into their Macs and most home-based operations can be done wirelessly these days, including video out, data transfers, and more. There are so many good choices these days in Apple’s lineup that I feel like it can be hard to go wrong (Except the 13” MacBook Pro with Touchbar…please don’t get that machine…you will be sad). With all that being said, that was my experience with the 14” MacBook Pro over the last week. I’m happy I got to try it out and experience what I imagine is the most popular MacBook Pro for most people.