Posted on Tue 03 December 2019

2019 16" MacBook Pro

I recently wrote about the 2019 15" MacBook Pro I bought and how I was finding it. A very high-level summary: the keyboard was okay, I hated the TouchBar, and the bluetooth was awful.

When the 16" MacBook Pro was announced recently, my 15" was less than two months old, so I was able to talk Apple into letting me return it so I could buy the 16". I'm really lucky—lots of people who'd had theirs a little longer than me weren't able to get a return, and after trying the 16" I'm extremely glad I didn't have to stick with that 15" for the foreseeable future.

The 16" is better in pretty much every way, and since I'm planning on using this MBP as my daily computer for many years to come, I'm grateful to have been able to upgrade when I did.

Here's what I've noticed in the first couple of weeks with the 16":

The keyboard is good

I liked the butterfly keyboard on the 2019 15", which was the best of Apple's butterfly keyboard attempts. But it still had shortcomings. The travel was too short. When I was typing a lot, and quickly, I felt like I was smashing my fingers into the keyboard and it was uncomfortable. But the feeling of the keys apart from the travel was nice. And generally I like fairly low travel—it was just a bit too low.

The keys on the 16" are comfortable to type on while also having most of the nice feeling that the last butterfly keyboard had, so I find it to be a good compromise.

On the new keyboard, the keys are slightly smaller and less close together, which I know some people are happy about. I really enjoyed how big the keys were on the last butterfly keyboard, but this keyboard has found a compromise that's somewhere between the 2019 15" and my 2013 15", which has much smaller keys that are spaced further apart.

Hellooooo arrow keys

The arrow keys were awful on the previous keyboard. Finding the up arrow by feel (I'm a touch typer, and rarely look at the keyboard) was nigh on impossible, and drove me crazy daily. I'm so glad this is fixed.

The escape key is back

Not having a physical escape key didn't bother me much, but I know it bothered a lot of people so I'm glad Apple gave in and brought it back. I hope they keep bringing back physical keys one at a time until the TouchBar disappears...

The TouchBar still sucks

I hate the TouchBar. It's a waste of space that makes my computer worse and doesn't add anything. Again, because I touch type, I never look at the keyboard, so I get no value out of a dynamic screen in the keyboard. But I do find it annoying to not have physical keys for things like media and brightness that I use all the time.

Apple moved the TouchBar further up from the keyboard in the 16" to avoid accidental touches. Maybe they could just keep moving it further up... and up... until it's on the screen, where it belongs.

Bluetooth is fixed!

I'm so happy about this one. The Bluetooth in my 2019 15" was rubbish. It had maybe a 2-metre range for most things, but my Magic Mouse would constantly disconnect and reconnect while it was sitting right next to the MBP. Touching it, even. It was horrid.

Thankfully, the Bluetooth in the 16" seems just as strong as my 2013 15" and I haven't had any issues so far.

16-inch screen

The screen does feel bigger than my 15". It feels wider, in particular, and the smaller bezels are noticeable. It's not a huge difference, but enough to notice and appreciate, especially since the body overall isn't huge.

I'm really happy with the 16" MacBook Pro, though that could just be anchoring based on the 2019 15" I had for a few weeks. Either way, I'm relieved and grateful I was able to swap to the 16" because it's a nicer, more productive daily driver for me.

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