Non-pro look at the entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro

In November, Apple launched the MacBook Pro 2021. Available in two sizes (14- and 16-inch), the company also introduced two new chips, the M1 Pro and the M1 Max. While I thought this new Mac would be overkill for me — I didn’t need the ports, ProMotion, miniLED, or the processor — I recently broke my 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro and needed a replacement.

Between buying the entry-level 2020 M1 MacBook Air and the new 14-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro, I decided to go with the latter. Here is my review of this computer from a heavy but non-professional user perspective.

First impressions of the MacBook Pro 2021 design

At first glance, I wasn’t a big fan of the notch on the MacBook Pro. I also thought the whole black keyboard was weird when I saw it in the store. Plus, I really liked the Touch Bar (for all the wrong reasons — it’s so convenient to send emoji with it). But as the days go by, I’m just super into this new design.

Getting from a 16-inch to a 14-inch isn’t that big of a deal. The screen is big enough for me to open and work two Safari windows side by side. Not only that, but weight was super important in my decision, and the 14-inch is much lighter than my previous Intel Mac.

I find the keyboard and trackpad very reliable, Touch ID always works great, and I really love this miniLED display with ProMotion. Switching between my iPhone 13 Pro and this Mac is just very smooth.

Last but not least, the reason I’m not typing from the Intel Mac anymore is that I tripped over the charger and completely wrecked the computer. With the new MacBook Pro, it adds the MagSafe connector again, and wow, I didn’t realize how much I missed this feature that was once available on my 2010 MacBook Pro.

Is the entry-level M1 Pro enough for me?

As I told you at the beginning of the article, I was in between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. The difference is huge: MacBook Air comes with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD, while the M1 Pro Mac comes with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD.

If Apple had already introduced the rumored new MacBook Air, I probably would have gone for that, but between these two existing models, I decided it was worth spending an extra $1,000 to have the latest and greatest technology with the new MacBook Pro.

I am not a pro user, but I am a heavy user. This is why I recommend Jeff Benjamin’s review of the 2021 MacBook Pro (if you want to talk specs). Here I want to give you a perspective of someone who types all day, occasionally edits images with Pixelmator Pro and also must have iMessage, Mail, Slack and WhatsApp open all the time.

For these tasks, I don’t have to say that everything works like a piece of cake for this powerful computer. Not only that, but it’s also very quiet, doesn’t get hot (at least on these tasks), and opens everything up in the blink of an eye.

It’s important to say that I’m pretty sure I could do the same with the M1 MacBook Air, but I’d probably upgrade it with dual RAM and storage to feel more secure with it over the years. That said, these were the reasons I didn’t get to the Air version:

  • Old design;
  • Lack of MagSafe connector;
  • Terrible webcam;
  • The screen looked a bit too small.

Final question: Does this MacBook Pro have an all-day battery?

2021-m1-pro-macbook-magsafe-9to5mac

While the first batch of M1 MacBooks were praised for their perpetual battery life, I was concerned that a Pro chip would consume a lot more power and that I would have to charge the Mac more than once during the day.

To my relief, the entry-level MacBook Pro 2021 holds up very well when I use it for the tasks I mentioned above. That said, it can easily handle 10 hours of non-stop use, but I think it’s possible to stretch it a little more to 12 hours.

Again, having both MagSafe and USB-C options to charge this machine is also a handy experience.

Conclusion and final considerations

There’s a lot I didn’t mention in this mini-review of the 2021 entry-level MacBook Pro. The reason is simple: we’ve already tested this machine. If you want an in-depth look, you can find it here.

What I’m trying to answer for this piece is whether this MacBook Pro is a good deal for a heavy (but not a professional) user. To which I say, yes, absolutely. The miniLED display with ProMotion is beautiful. You honestly don’t even notice the notch — just like when Apple introduced the iPhone X. Having more ports is great, although having a MagSafe connector is the most important. Keyboard, trackpad and Touch ID are reliable as ever. Last but not least the battery life is great which works well for me as this was another feature I really needed.

Will I change my mind if Apple releases a new MacBook Air? Could be. But since we can’t predict exactly when or what this MacBook Air will include, I can say that if you need a machine now and want it to last for years to come, the entry-level M1 Pro MacBook is more than enough.

Adjust it if you need a little more power or storage, but rely heavily on iCloud and only use essential apps, I don’t see why I’d need more RAM or storage right now – or in the years to come.

You can find the 2021 M1 Pro MacBook Pro on Apple’s Amazon store here.

Do you own this computer or are you planning to buy one? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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