What are all the differences between the 15-Inch “Late 2016” MacBook Pro models? What are the differences between these models and the “Mid-2015” models replaced? Which is best for my needs?
All “Mid-2015” and “Late 2016” MacBook Pro models have been discontinued. However, this Q&A is up-to-date and can be quite useful for anyone buying or selling one on the used market.
There are five 15-Inch “Mid-2015” Retina Display MacBook Pro models – the MacBook Pro “Core i7″ 2.2 15” (IG), “Core i7″ 2.5 15” (IG), “Core i7″ 2.8 15” (IG), “Core i7″ 2.5 15” (DG) and “Core i7″ 2.8 15” (DG) – and three “Late 2016” Touch Bar MacBook Pro models – the MacBook Pro “Core i7″ 2.6 15” Touch Bar, “Core i7″ 2.7 15” Touch Bar, and “Core i7″ 2.9 15” Touch Bar.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (15″ MacBook Pro Late 2016)
With just a cursory glance at the 15-Inch “Mid-2015” and “Late 2016” MacBook Pro models, it is clear that there are major feature and connectivity differences, but there are internal differences that are not obvious and that are just as important.
As a result, only a detailed comparison can truly help you decide which is best for your needs.
The 15-Inch “Mid-2015” and “Late 2016” MacBook Pro lines each use essentially “sealed” aluminum and glass cases that are uniformly thick, but the “Late 2016” models are thinner, smaller, and even more disposable.
The “Mid-2015” MacBook Pro models are 0.71 of an inch thick, 14.13 inches wide, and 9.73 inches deep and weigh 4.46 pounds (2.02 kg) whereas the “Late 2016” models are 0.61 of an inch thick, 13.75 inches wide, 9.48 inches deep, and weigh 4.02 pounds (1.83 kg).
Both lines are available in a silver finish, but the “Late 2016” models add a “Space Gray” color, a first for the MacBook Pro series, too.
The 15-Inch “Mid-2015” and “Late 2016″ MacBook Pro lines both have LED-backlit 15.4” widescreen 2880×1800, 220 ppi “Retina” displays, but the “Late 2016” display has a wide color gamut (P3) and is an Apple reported “67% brighter” with a brightness rating of 500 nits.
The 15-Inch “Mid-2015” and “Late 2016” MacBook Pro models have effectively the same 720p FaceTime HD webcam. Other exterior features are unique: Both lines have a full-size backlit keyboard, but the “Late 2016” MacBook Pro keyboard is much thinner with limited travel distance when you press the keys; integrated stereo speakers, but the speakers in the “Late 2016” models are much louder; and “Force Touch” trackpads, but the trackpad in the “Late 2016” models is twice as large.
The “Late 2016” MacBook Pro models also have three microphones and a new integrated “Touch Bar” that replaces the traditional function keys (and the escape key) with a touch-sensitive control that adapts for different applications and provides Touch ID login and Apple Pay support. The “Mid-2015” models, by contrast, have dual microphones and “traditional” function keys.
Connectivity is a major point of differentiation between the “Early 2015” and “Late 2016” MacBook Pro lines. In fact, the only connectivity that they share is 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
The “Mid-2015” MacBook Pro line packs two USB 3.0 ports, two “Thunderbolt 2” ports, an HDMI port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack that supports digital/audio line out, an SDXC card slot, Bluetooth 4.0, and a “MagSafe 2” power connector port.
On the other hand, the 15-Inch “Late 2016” MacBook Pro models have minimal connectivity. They have four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, a traditional analog only 3.5 mm headphone jack, and Bluetooth 4.2. Power is provided by using any one of the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, which unfortunately lack “MagSafe” capability.
It is possible to differentiate just between the 15-Inch “Mid-2015” and “Late 2016” MacBook Pro lines themselves by Model Number. The “Mid-2015” models are A1398 whereas the 15-Inch “Late 2016” models are A1707.
However, because the A1398 Model Number also is shared by earlier notebooks, Model Identifiers, in software, and EMC Numbers, externally, are better for unique identification.
Just as the site has done for more than two decades, EveryMac.com has diligently hand documented these details from the hardware itself for your convenience:
15-Inch (Mid-2015, Integrated Graphics)
15-Inch (Mid-2015, Dedicated Graphics)
15-Inch (Late 2016, Touch Bar)
Additionally, EveryMac.com’s Ultimate Mac Lookup feature additionally can uniquely identify each one of the Touch Bar MacBook Pro models by their serial numbers, which are listed in software as well as on the bottom of the system.
Both the “Mid-2015” and 15-Inch “Late 2016” MacBook Pro lines are sealed and essentially intended to be disposable, but the “Mid-2015” models have removable “blade” SSDs, and therefore, much more upgrade potential compared to their successors.
These two lines are effectively completely different from one another on the inside. The “Late 2016” models use the newer “Skylake” architecture rather than the earlier “Haswell” architecture (although Skylake is not much faster), as well as newer graphics processors that provide better external display support, faster RAM and faster SSD storage both soldered onboard, but batteries that are physically smaller and that provide fewer watt-hours of runtime.
Both lines have batteries that are unfortunately glued in place. However, as first discovered by iFixit, at least the “Late 2016” line does have an easily removable trackpad, unlike the particularly wasteful “Mid-2015” design that forced a professional repair person to throw away the trackpad in addition to the battery as part of the replacement procedure.
Apple estimates nine hours of runtime for the “Mid-2015” MacBook Pro and ten hours for the “Late 2016” MacBook Pro.
The major differences between the 15-Inch “Mid-2015” and “Late 2016” MacBook Pro models are summarized below. Please refer to the specs page for the model of interest for complete details:
15″ Mid-2015 15″ Late 2016 Processor Speeds: 2.2 GHz 2.5 GHz 2.8 GHz 2.6 GHz 2.7 GHz 2.9 GHz Processor Type: I7-4770HQ I7-4870HQ I7-4980HQ I7-6700HQ I7-6820HQ I7-6920HQ System Architecture: Haswell Skylake Standard RAM: 16 GB 16 GB Maximum RAM: 16 GB† 16 GB† RAM Type: 1600 MHz DDR3L 2133 MHz DDR3L Standard Storage: 256 GB, 512 GB 256 GB, 512 GB Storage Upgrade: Removable Soldered Graphics Processor(s): Iris Pro 5200 AMD Radeon R9 M370X* HD Graphics 530 AMD Radeon 450/455 GDDR5 VRAM: 128 MB/2 GB* 2 GB Ext. Display Support: 3840×2160 (x2) 5120×2160* 4096×2304 x4 Battery W Hrs: 99.5 W Hr 76.0 W Hr Battery Life: 9+ Hours ~10 Hours Touch Bar: No Yes Touch ID: No Yes Thunderbolt: 2 (2.0) 4 (3.0) USB 3.0: 2 (3.0) No HDMI: Yes (1) No Optical Audio: Yes No SD Card: SDXC No MagSafe: Yes No Bluetooth: 4.0 4.2 Dimensions: 0.71 x 14.13 x 9.73 0.61 x 13.75 x 9.48 Weight: 4.46 lbs (2.02 kg) 4.02 lbs (1.83 kg) Order Numbers (US): MJLQ2LL/A MJLT2LL/A MLH32LL/A MLW72LL/A MLH42LL/A MLW82LL/A EMC Number: 2909, 2910 3072 Model Identifier: MacBookPro11,4 MacBookPro11,5 MacBookPro13,3 Intro Price (US): US$1999 US$2499 US$2399-US$2999 Intro Price (UK): £1599 £1999 £2349-£2879 Intro Price (CA): C$2449 C$3049 C$2999-C$3739 Intro Price (AU): A$2799 A$3499 A$3599-A$4569
† RAM is soldered in place and cannot be upgraded.
* The entry-level “Mid-2015” (MJLQ2LL/A) configuration only has a single Iris Pro 5200 graphics processor. This graphics processor has 128 MB of “Crystalwell” embedded DRAM on the CPU package, but these systems do not have dedicated GDDR5 VRAM. These models support two external displays up to 3840×2160 rather than one 5120×2160 display.
For introductory pricing in dozens of other countries, see the “Global Prices” on the specs page for each Mac as well as the “By Global Original Prices” section of EveryMac.com.
So, which is best for my needs?
Although all of these models now have been discontinued, the “Late 2016” MacBook Pro remain a reflection of Apple’s current vision for the future of computing. Waifishly thin, beautiful design, high quality display, high quality audio, large external display support, innovative input, and long-term convenience. Unfortunately, though, this future vision also is one where notebooks essentially are sealed and disposable.
Furthermore, the 15-Inch “Late 2016” MacBook Pro models also have effectively the same performance and battery life as the “Mid-2015” line that they replaced. At the time they were first released, the 15-Inch “Late 2016” models additionally cost more. They also have soldered storage (which will substantially reduce the lifespan of the notebook) and initially required a bunch of inconvenient and often expensive adapters.
Consequently, at least when these models all were new, most users would have been best off purchasing a “Mid-2015” MacBook Pro. Now, the “Mid-2015” MacBook Pro models remain well worth considering. They are well tested in the real-world, have more connectivity, upgradable storage, better battery life, and nearly identical overall performance and runtime.
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