The new Apple MacBook Pro 15 builds on the advantages of the predecessor and is one of the best devices you can buy right now in some respects. This definitely includes the excellent chassis, where the diet did not affect the quality or the stability. Apple was also able to improve the display even further and surpass the previous model in all areas. The trackpad is now much bigger than before and it is still much better than all the Windows rivals.
It is trickier to get a verdict on the keyboard as well as the touchpad. Similar to the two smaller 13-inch models, Apple uses its own second generation Butterfly switches. The result is a very precise key stroke, but it requires some learning period in combination with the extremely shallow travel. We really like the fingerprint scanner inside the power button. The highly advertised Touch Bar was well implemented by Apple, but the usability primarily depends on the software support. In practice, it can even make common actions (like brightness or volume control, for example) more complicated due to an additional touch. In its current state, we think it is more of a gimmick.
A look at the performance parts shows that Apple uses the best hardware in terms of mobile quad-core processor and mainstream GPUs that is available right now. However, with the corresponding Kaby Lake chips and mainstream GPUs from the Pascal generation right around the corner, the MacBook Pro 15 might be outdated pretty soon. This is obviously not a great perspective, especially for a device that will cost at least $2399. We are a bit surprised that the smaller battery capacity was compensated that well. The runtime does take a hit when you really stress the system, but Apple was actually able to improve the runtimes in the practical tests.
The biggest problems besides the price are the bugs and the port situation in our opinion. There are currently issues with WLAN connections in 2.4 GHz networks when a USB-C device is attached. Similar to the smaller sibling, this results in a point deduction from the final rating (- 2%). There can also be problems with the speakers when you install Windows via BoootCamp (our test model was affected) and the graphics card can cause errors. Both issues should be fixed with upcoming or already shipped updates according to Apple.
A point that cannot be fixed by an update is the port situation. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports – all of which can use the full bandwidth unlike the smaller sibling – are very versatile and also future-proof, but this radical approach is just inconvenient in practice in the foreseeable future, because you need corresponding adapters. We think Apple could have found a more elegant and better solution for the customers.
All in all, the new MacBook Pro 15 does feel like an interim solution. Now, we get a new design with some changes, before the next model will (most likely) provide more performance and fix all the issues (which does remind us of the iPhones). The MacBook is still a very good multimedia notebook and many customers will certainly be happy with it, but you can easily skip this model and wait for the refresh next year if you do not really need a new system right now.