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MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Pro SoC First Impressions: A Promising Upgrade for Content Creators

  • The MacBook Pro 16 features a 16.2-inch edge-to-edge display with a 120Hz refresh rate.
  • It is powered by M1 Pro or M1 Max SoCs with up to 64GB unified memory depending on the configuration you choose.
  • Apple has added more ports and support for 140W fast charging using a MagSafe connector.

Apple revamped its high-end MacBook Pro notebooks with a refreshing new design, faster chipsets, better display, and much more. Offered in 14-inch and 16-inch models with prices starting at $1,999, the new notebooks are now on sale, although with limited stocks. We picked up the 16-inch MacBook Pro base model which starts at $2,499, and here are our first impressions.

Unboxing Experience and In-box Contents

Just like the iPhone 13 series, the new MacBook Pros also gets new box packaging, which eliminates the plastic wrap. The back of the box has an adhesive paper tab with the tear-off strip. In a way, the lid cannot come off from the box until it is opened. As it is made from 100% recycled materials, the packaging ensures reducing environmental impact while also offering a nice unboxing experience.

counterpoint macbook pro in-box

Inside the box, you have the MacBook Pro 16 in a thin paper wrap, a 140W charging brick, and a MagSafe cable. It is Apple’s first GaN charger, which supports charging at 140W. The cable has a Type-C connector on one end, which goes in the charging brick, and the other end has a MagSafe connector. The cable has a braided finish and looks very sturdy. Though, I wish it was in black to not look dirty as it attracts dust over time.

counterpoint macbook pro fi 140w adapter

Watch:Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Pro SoC: Unboxing and First Impressions

TouchBar is Gone, MagSafe and SD Card Slot is On

Just like the Time Machine feature that lets you back up your Mac and restore it to the previous state in case something goes wrong, Apple’s move is something similar. After ditching MagSafe, SD Card slot, and introducing a TouchBar nearly five years ago, Apple has now gone back in time to roll back all these to how things were before.

counterpoint macbook pro 16 fi sd card slot

No, you do not get the USB Type-A port back, but the SD card slot and the HDMI port are back. For charging, you can use MagSafe to charge at 140W, or you can also charge using any of the Type-C ports using a PD (power delivery) adapter, but at slower speeds.

counterpoint macbook pro 16 magsafe

The new keyboard feels nice and has good key travel too. The new full-height physical function keys also bring shortcuts to control music playback and volume, enable quick dictation, Spotlight Search, and more. I’m writing the first impressions on the MacBook Pro 16 itself, and the experience is pretty good.

counterpoint macbook pro 16 keyboard

Bright and Vivid Display, Crisp and Loud Audio

Apple switched to mini-LED displays for its iPads which brings certain benefits both from viewing and energy-saving point of view. With hundreds and thousands of dimming zones, the display offers better contrast and black levels like OLED screens. The screen also offers better brightness (up to 1600 nits), which is amazing, especially considering that even smartphones like Galaxy S21 Ultra have 1500 nits peak brightness. They need it for good legibility under direct sunlight, but as the MacBook Pros are built for on-the-go content creators, having super bright display makes sense.

counterpoint macbook pro 16 fi screen

Apple says that the screen can offer sustained brightness of 1000 nits, and while I could not test the claims, the screen does look better. And with LiquidRetina XDR and ProMotion tech (where it can automatically adjust refresh rate between 24Hz to 120Hz), the screen offers vivid color reproduction. In this limited time, I did watch a few episodes of a TV show and some music videos, and I’m impressed so far.

counterpoint macbook pro 16 notched display

But it’s not just the screen, now there is a notch too, which houses a 1080p web camera. Apple says that the notch is a “smart way” to offer users more screen real estate, where the notch area accommodates the menu bar, while still giving you a full 16:9 aspect ratio screen. It sure does offer more screens, but apps need to be updated to optimize the space wisely.

counterpoint macbook pro 16 speaker

The speakers on the MacBook Pro 16 are terrific, offering clear audio, and they can get super loud. These are some of the loudest I have heard on a laptop to date. There are four woofers and two tweeters, together with Dolby Atmos offer a room-filling surround sound experience.

Snappy Performance, While Being Highly Efficient

My MacBook Pro 16 unit is a base model as I mentioned above, which comes with M1 Pro SoC, 16GB of unified memory (RAM), and 512GB SSD. I do see a performance difference over Windows laptops, with app opening times being faster for sure. On my Windows laptop powered by 10th gen Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, opening programs like Adobe Rush CC takes nearly 40 seconds. The same on the new M1 Pro MacBook took about eight seconds.

To test the video rendering performance, I shot the unboxing and first impressions video of MacBook Pro, a total of over five minutes clip after editing. After adding voice-over, music, and transitions, rendering took a little less than seven minutes, whereas the same on Intel-based Windows laptops took 33 minutes.

counterpoint macbook pro lead image

But one of the most impressive feats of the new MacBook Pros is how well the SoCs have been optimized for efficient battery life. To put things into perspective, I charged the MacBook Pro to 100 percent yesterday, after which I listened to music for two hours on 80% volume, then binged watched a series for two hours, some internet surfing, Teams calls, did video editing, which took about two hours, and then around two hours writing these first impressions. With all this usage and screen time of over nine hours, I will have 40% battery left, which is crazy good. I will test more over the next few months to see how the notebook performs in day-to-day usage and talk more in my in-depth review.

Key Takeaways:

  • The new MacBook Pros promise powerful performance with crazy long battery life.
  • With an SD card slot, big and vivid display, the 16-inch MacBook Pro could be the content creator’s go-to laptop.
  • Loud and powerful speakers also make notebooks good for multimedia content consumption.

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Ritesh is a Global Content Manager with Counterpoint Technology Market Research. With over 10 years of experience, he is joining Counterpoint from BGR India where he was the Head of Features. At BGR, Ritesh also used to cover tech news, product launches, and review consumer tech. Ritesh is a science graduate from Mumbai University, with major in Physics. He followed his passion for tech, took up writing as a career and is also a well-known tech journalist in the industry.

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