Apple’s cheaper 14-inch MacBook Pro is killing the old 13-inch version

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Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro, gone but not forgotten.

NEW YORK—Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro lineup earlier today, and there was one surprise that the rumor mill hadn't anticipated: a new base model of the 14-inch MacBook Pro with a plain-old M3 chip in it, starting at $1,599. That new 14-inch MacBook Pro is totally replacing the old 13-inch MacBook Pro in Apple's lineup.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro still used the same basic design that Apple had been using since 2016, when Apple redesigned the MacBook Pros to make them thinner and lighter and to replace all of their ports with Thunderbolt. The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros backtracked on several of those design decisions, but the 13-inch model stayed as it was, complete with the regular notchless display and the Touch Bar.

This effectively means that the MacBook Pro is getting a price increase from $1,299 to $1,599. But the $1,599 Pro includes many features that were never included in the 13-inch Pro, including the larger high-refresh-rate ProMotion display, the contrast-boosting and bloom-reducing mini LED screen technology, the MagSafe connector, the 1080p camera, and the return of the HDMI port. Apple also now sells a 15-inch MacBook Air at that $1,299 starting point, giving people another option in between the mainstream 13-inch Air and the Pro lineup.

The death of the 13-inch MacBook Pro also means the death of the Touch Bar. Apple pitched the Touch Bar as the Mac's answer to the increased popularity of touchscreens in Windows PCs—by putting a dynamic, adjustable touch surface near where your fingers already were, you could (the thinking went) make it faster to interact with and cut down on arm fatigue.

In practice, this didn't work out. Third-party developers largely ignored the Touch Bar entirely, and many users complained about the lack of a fixed, physical function row; these were widespread enough that later Touch Bar iterations made room for a physical Escape key on the left side. The Touch Bar never came to more popular devices like the MacBook Air, and by the time the Apple Silicon MacBook Pro was introduced in 2021, the idea was dead. Apple's press release for the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro neither depicts nor mentions the Touch Bar, sweeping it under the rug despite its continued presence.

It probably doesn't help that the Touch Bar was so closely associated with Apple's ill-fated and breakage-prone butterfly-switch keyboard.

Apple is said to be working on touchscreen Macs, though this would run counter to over a decade of vociferous public objection to the very idea of touchscreens in computers. They may (or may not) arrive in 2025, after a tasteful mourning period for the Touch Bar's passing.

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