Review: Apple's 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro is fast and quiet, but ultimately unsatisfactory

Apple's M2 MacBook Pro
It's got the tech giant's new silicon onboard, but should you be purchasing one? Photo credit: Newshub

Apple announced the first hardware powered by its new M2 silicon chip at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in early June.

The introduction of the M1 chip in 2020 saw a big boost in performance over computers using other chips, with the M2 promising more of the same.

While the forthcoming MacBook Air got a redesign, the MacBook Pro 13-inch got the M2 chip and not much else.

So should you be looking to add one of the latter to your tech collection?

I've been using the 13-inch Macbook Pro with an M2 chip for a couple of weeks now and here are my thoughts.

The good

As we've come to expect from Apple's own silicon, the new MacBook Pro is blazingly quick.

The 8-Core CPU, 10-Core GPU and 8GB of Unified Memory offered by the M2 ensured there were no issues with intensive tasks like batch image work, editing of video and my usual 'many tabs open at the same time' browsing experience.

It's also a very nice and accurate keyboard to type on - one of my favourites on the market. The travel of the keys suits my typing style and there's not many others out there that give me the same level of feel and accuracy.

And it stays thankfully cool while using, certainly compared to one of the old Intel versions which used to turn my legs bright red due to the heat. It's virtually silent too, unlike the fans that used to drown out whatever I was watching on my old one.

The screen quality is also excellent, with the 13.3-inch backlit screen offering a 2560x1600 resolution and 500 nits of brightness.

Apple's M2 MacBook Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

Throw on your favourite movies or streaming television shows and, providing you have a decent internet connection, you'll be able to bathe in the beautiful full colours. Watching anything on it is a treat, frankly.

The battery is also seriously impressive. Apple claims up to 20 hours of battery life - frankly I'm too old to try and see if it'll last that long in one go.

However, you can comfortably use one for an entire day of work and then an evening in front of the television and still be assured you've got enough juice in the box. Throw it on charge while you're having a rest and you'll be good to go again the next morning.

The biggest difference, chip aside, is the ability to have more RAM compared to the M1 version, topping out at 24GB instead of 16GB this time around.

There's not many out there barring serious professionals who need more than that in their laptop, even today.

Lastly, I'll admit to some fondness for the Touch Bar - perhaps one of the most divisive pieces of technology I've ever read about.

Apple's M2 MacBook Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

My previous MacBook Pro didn't have one and so this is the first time I've experienced its joys and, while not perfect, I think it got a bit of a bad press.

I especially loved it when I opened a new tab and the icons of my favourites appeared and I was able to touch the button instead of moving the mouse to open it up.

Am I unnecessarily attracted to colourful and shiny things instead of standard black function buttons? Probably. It's still not as bad as it's made out to be.

The bad

It's quick, looks good and delivers everything you'd expect from a Mac - yet it's still somewhat unsatisfactory.

The biggest issue for me is the M2 MacBook Air that's scheduled to be released very soon.

Not only is it cheaper than the MacBook Pro by $150 in Aotearoa, it also has an updated design (albeit with the notch holding the webcam that has bothered some) and an overall better specification.

It's lighter, thinner and available in more colours as well as having, essentially, an extra port with the two Thunderbolt/USB-C ports free because of the return of MagSafe charging.

Apple's M2 MacBook Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

That's not all - the webcam on the Air is 1080p versus just a pretty ordinary 720p on the new Pro model.

Do you want more? How about a four-speaker sound system instead of the stereo system. Or the slightly bigger screen which is a Liquid Retina Display as opposed to the Retina Display on the Pro?

Webcam (and possibly the Touch Bar aside, depending on your thoughts on that much-maligned technology) there really isn't anything inherently bad about the MacBook Pro.

If you're happy with what is, essentially, a new chip in an older device, then go for it. I was just a little disappointed by the overall form compared to what's coming.

Oh, and the cost is high too - $2299 for the 256GB SSD version or $2649 for the one with the larger 512GB SSD.

Apple's M2 MacBook Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

The verdict

This might be one of the strangest products I've ever had to review.

It's clearly a very quick and capable device - but it also feels like Apple is asking for a premium price for an out-of-date product, despite the M2 chip.

With new, bigger MacBook Pros expected out later this year and the much-updated MacBook Air due out soon, it's not exactly clear who this particular laptop is designed for.

Me? I came up with only two types:

  • Early adopters who need/want that M2 power right now and don't want to wait and
  • those who love the much-criticised Touch Bar and want to update their laptop.
Apple's M2 MacBook Pro
Photo credit: Newshub

I surprised myself by actually enjoying using the Touch Bar, despite every bad thing I've heard about it. I guess I've always been a bit weird.

Ultimately, this goes down as one of the first Apple MacBooks that I haven't instantly fallen in love with. I feel kind of sad having written that sentence.

If I wanted a 13-inch laptop, I'd be holding on for the new Air to launch soon. It just has more that appeals to me and I love its form. If I wanted bigger, I'd wait for the new MacBook Pros with the M2 chips expected later in 2022.

Your mileage may vary - just be careful you understand exactly what you're getting.

Newshub was supplied with a 13-inch Macbook Pro with an M2 chip for this review.