A midsummer update to the MacBook Pro 2018 lineup is Apple's gift to Mac fans. The unexpected announcement came on July 12, 2018 and with it, news that Apple was updating its MacBook Pro 2018 13-inch and 15-inch versions with Touch Bar and Touch ID.
This is a significant development in the Apple lineup, since the MacBook Pro hadn't changed much since 2016, when it was introduced. There were tweaks in 2017, but nothing substantial.
SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)
The newly revamped MacBook Pro laptops have updated 8th-generation Intel processors as well as upgrades to RAM, storage, and battery. And all of these changes arrive just in time for back-to-school purchases.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about the updated models of MacBook Pro 2018 laptops.
What is Apple's update to some models of the MacBook Pro 2018?
The update provides the latest version of Apple's MacBook Pro, starting at $1,799 for the 13-inch version and $2,399 for the 15-inch laptops with Touch Bar and Touch ID. Prices go upward from there based on the selected processor, memory, storage, and software options.
- Everything you need to know about buying Apple's 2018 MacBook Pro (ZDNet)
- Apple MacBook Pro surprise upgrade: New Intel chips, better screens, more RAM but no keyboard fix (CNET)
What's new in the updates to these MacBook Pro 2018 models?
The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models withApple's Touch Bar secondary display now have updated 8th-generation Intel CPUs, with 6-core on the 15-inch model. In a press release, Apple said the new processor will result in up to 70% faster performance. The quad-core on the 13-inch model will give up to two times faster performance, according to Apple.
Other updates include support for up to 32 GB of memory and a third-generation keyboard for quieter typing. There is up to a 2 TB SSD on the 13-inch model and up to a 4 TB SSD on the 15-inch laptops.
Also new to the MacBook Pro is the Apple T2 chip. This is a small but mighty component. It was first introduced on the iMac Pro. It's responsible for the Secure Enclave coprocessor to improve security and encryption. In the previous version of the MacBook Pro, Apple used the Apple T1 chip for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, Apple Pay, and a few other features. The T2 chip allows it to do real-time encryption on data. There's support for secure boot, and it operates as a secure controller for other features.
The MacBook Pro now has hands-free Siri. This is the first time "Hey Siri" has been available on the MacBook Pro.
- 2018 MacBook Pro packs way more power into its 15-inch frame (CNET)
- Apple is now playing the long game with Siri (ZDNet)
Why do the MacBook Pro 2018 upgrades matter?
This is the first time Apple has significantly updated the MacBook Pro since its release in 2016, leading many to speculate that Apple was forgetting about the MacBook Pro.
The overall designs are the same—the specs are the focus of this update. It's only the MacBook Pro models with Apple's Touch Bar that are getting an update—the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro model without the Touch Bar is unchanged, as is the rest of the Mac lineup, including the 12-inch MacBook,the MacBook Air, and desktop Macs, according to sister site CNET.
- Apple boosts performance of 13-, 15-inch MacBook Pro 2018 laptops, but won't quell worries about Mac's future (TechRepublic)
- Apple's surprise MacBook Pro update further strains its relationship with pros (ZDNet)
- Why the Mac you know has no future (ZDNet)
Who is the target market for the MacBook Pro 2018 upgrades?
The MacBook Pro refresh is for business users and students, with its powerful performance and new security features. It's perfectly timed for back-to-school purchases, and also for upcoming holiday gifts.
The MacBook Pro is part of a back-to-school promotion that began on July 12, 2018 at the Apple Education Store. The promotion is available to college students, their parents, faculty, and staff, and it includes a pair of Beats headphones with the purchase of any eligible Mac or iPad Pro for college.
Apple is also pushing the business angle, explaining in a press release that the upgraded MacBook Pro is "ideal for manipulating large data sets, performing complex simulations, creating multi-track audio projects or doing advanced image processing or film editing...The new MacBook Pro can compile code faster and run multiple virtual machines and test environments easier than before."
- A full-spec updated 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro will cost you $6,699 (ZDNet)
- Technology in education: The latest products and trends (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- IT hardware procurement policy (Tech Pro Research)
When did Apple announce the upgraded MacBook Pro 2018 models?
The upgrades to the select MacBook Pros were announced on July 12, 2018, which was a surprise to most everyone. Traditionally, Apple has a big fall event, usually in early September, where it announces the newest iPhones. Sometimes, the company also holds a spring event, where other updates are announced. And early in the summer, Apple has its WWDC, which is its big developer conference—sometimes products are introduced at that event.
By not announcing these updates on June 8 at the most recent WWDC, it led many developers and other business customers to assume that no significant changes would be taking place with Apple's laptops, as ZDNet's David Gewirtz explained: "On July 12, exactly 35 days later, Apple introduced an updated MacBook Pro, a MacBook Pro capable of supporting 32GB of RAM, instead of the paltry 16GB most Macs max out at. Many pros have been waiting for this, literally for years."
- Welcome to Apple's year of safe, boring Mac and iPad updates (CNET)
- Blackmagic eGPU: The future of the MacBook Pro is having more stuff tethered to it (ZDNet)
- Photos: All the news you need to know from the WWDC keynote (TechRepublic)
When is the MacBook Pro 2018 available?
The MacBook Pro is available to order now from Apple.
What are the specs of these MacBook Pro 2018 models?
13-Inch MacBook Pro highlights
- Price starting at $1,799
- Quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.5 GHz and double the eDRAM
- Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics 655 with 128MB of eDRAM
- Up to 2 TB of SSD storage
- True Tone display technology
- Apple T2 Chip
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
15-Inch MacBook Pro highlights
- Price starting at $2,399
- 6-core Intel Core i7 and Core i9 processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 4.8 GHz
- Up to 32 GB of DDR4 memory
- Powerful Radeon Pro discrete graphics with 4 GB of video memory in every configuration
- Up to 4TB of SSD storage
- True Tone display technology
- Apple T2 Chip
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
- Top 20 Apple keyboard shortcuts for business users (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Turbo boost your old Mac with high-performance OWC components (ZDNet)
- Apple macOS Mojave: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Will your Mac run macOS 10.14 Mojave? (ZDNet)
- Apple in the Enterprise: A strategic guide (ZDNet)
- Do Macs need antivirus protection? (Download.com)
Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.