The MacBook Pro is one of the few products from Apple in the slimmed-down Mac range. It's been the choice of many professionals for years, but how has it changed since it was first introduced?

Let's look back at the MacBook Pro to understand its origins, the changes Apple has made over time, and how it has remained so popular.

Introduction to the MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro was introduced in 2006 and is based on Apple's innovative PowerBook G4 laptop. This laptop is a high-end model designed for professionals and people who need a little more power on their device.

It tops the consumer-facing MacBook Air models and is currently sold with 13- and 16-inch screens; 15- and 17-inch versions were sold from January 2006 to January 2020 and April 2006 to June 2012, respectively.

Now up to the sixth generation and with rumors of a redesigned sixth generation MacBook Pro, the MacBook Pro is one of Apple's most enduring devices in its design and technology. Let's see how.

Improvements after the PowerBook G4

A color-coded timeline of how all Apple Mac laptop devices developed from 2006 to 2022Image source: Wikipedia

The MacBook Pro model that Apple released right after the PowerBook G4 – another groundbreaking Macintosh laptop – has made some major tweaks in terms of speed and ease of use. According to many reports, the Pro doubles or triples the speed of the G4 in the areas of video processing and playback, gaming and universal application operations.

With a new dual-core Intel processor powering the device, plus features like a built-in iSight webcam, a brand new magnetic (or MagSafe in Mac language) power port, and improved WiFi range, there were plenty of positives .

However, the thinness of this new model brought some drawbacks. Even with a slower optical drive, battery life only on par with the G4, and no FireWire port, it was still a big step forward for power hungry users. MacBook Pro models in 2008 would introduce a unibody design, an all-click trackpad, more powerful Intel i5 and i7 processors, and Thunderbolt ports.

2012 – the year of the most successful and traditional model – would see an even thinner device with solid-state storage and an HDMI port, as well as a livelier Retina display. If you're interested, check out our 2012 article on the redesigned MacBook Pro for an idea of ​​the response back then.

gift macbook pro

The 2016 revision introduced USB-C as well as the controversial Touch Bar, which attempted to add more functionality to the top row of buttons. There were minimal improvements in 2019 and 2020, with the implementation of the Apple M1 "System-on-a-Chip" processor being the most significant.

What Makes the MacBook Pro So Special?

Put simply, the Pro's performance and design make it an extremely useful device for personal and professional use. It's powerful enough to run demanding apps like Photoshop at high speed, and its display is nice and rich. The trackpad is easy to use, while the entire laptop is thin, portable, and well built.

It also takes advantage of other Mac computers. MacOS 'user interface is sleek and effective, and well integrated with the entire suite of Apple products.

Launchpad in macOS Monterey

In addition, the value of the MacBook Pro is unmatched when compared to other laptops that offer the same performance, flexibility, and utility. We'll touch this down below, but compared to Windows devices, you'd have to convert to a desktop build to improve the Pro in this price range.

Overall, everything looks, sounds, and works really well on the MacBook Pro. Quite a simple argument that helps outline the long and decorated history of this model, right?

MacBook Pro reviews over the years

Close-up of a 4th Generation MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Of course, no device is perfect. To spare the age-old Mac-PC debate, several reviews of the MacBook Pro bring it back to earth. From overarching thematic reviews to specific technical issues, the critics have broken the Pro hard from its introduction in 2006 to the present day.

The first generation in 2006 was mainly criticized because of the underclocking of the graphics card and the excessively high temperature (particularly relevant for laptop users who work on the lap). This temperature criticism continued until the second generation, the first unibody model.

The ports on the second-generation MacBook Pro model were also hit, particularly the implementation of Mini DisplayPort instead of the more popular HDMI output. Ports and connectivity have always been a problem for Apple. This was highlighted by the removal of the headphone jack for the iPhone and the quick swap out of traditional ports on Mac models with USB-C only.

Mac USB-C portImage source: Maurizio Pesce / Wikimedia Commons

Until the third generation in 2012, the best-selling Pro model, Apple left out other features. This included the loss of the optical drive and ethernet port. While some were dissatisfied with this choice, others saw it as a quantum leap, given the general trend away from wired internet and CD / DVDs.

To continue this trend, the fourth generation MacBook Pro switched entirely to USB-C for its ports and saw its price increase quite significantly. But this time around, Apple may have jumped too far.

Some found it frustrating that they only had to use a dongle to plug USB-A devices into the laptop's USB-C ports. This quote from The Verge review sums it up well: "Using (the new MacBook) alienates anyone living in the present. I agree with Apple's vision of the future. I just won't buy it today." The Touch Bar also misses the mark with some users.

The fifth generation of the Pro was announced at the end of 2020. Aside from the integration of Apple's new M1 chip, the improvements were minor. For this reason, as well as the fact that the market had caught up with Apple's leaps at the time, there were few and neutral reviews.

A sixth generation should appear in 2021, rumored to include a redesign; it will be interesting to see what further developments Apple makes with it.

Despite criticism, the MacBook Pro was very successful

Even though it was released over 15 years ago, the MacBook Pro is still breaking records in sales volume. According to Apple's financial records, the Pro had sales of $ 9 billion for its fiscal year ended September 2020, of $ 28.6 billion for all Mac devices. That's almost a third of all sales.

Looking at the product life cycle, the survivability of this model is pretty impressive. It seems that the combination of forward-thinking design, ease of use, performance, technological advancement, and the much-trusted Apple insignia has enabled the MacBook Pro Pro to grow successfully in the marketplace.

A lot has changed over its lifespan, but users – like me – still believe the MacBook Pro is one of the best.

MacBook and iMac on a desk.

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About the author

Elliott Gooding
(3 articles published)

Elliott Gooding is a seasoned digital marketer, aspiring teacher, businessman in the music industry, and a humanities scholar. Despite having embarked on a strange journey through the world of work and education, he has left a wealth of experience in many different digital fields. With many years of study, his writing is inviting yet concise, effective and fun to read and is sure to captivate you.

By Elliott Gooding

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