The Force Touch trackpads that debuted in Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro in March 2015 have now made their way to the larger 15-inch model of the MacBook Pro, along with the faster flash storage that has already appeared in some other MacBooks. Apple also promises up to one extra hour of battery life from the updated 15-inch Pro.
The Force Touch trackpad is a new version of Apple’s glass-topped touch interface. In it, the traditional top hinge has been replaced with a series of four corner sensors, and the Force Touch pad doesn’t physically click down like its predecessor did. In an earlier hands-on feature on the technology, we described it as follows:
“The four sensors allow you to click anywhere on the pad’s surface with identical results, and the Force Click effect, which combines the sensors with haptic (or taptic) feedback, allows you to have two levels of perceived clicking within an app or task. That deep click feels to the finger and brain like the trackpad has a stepped physical mechanism, but in fact, the movement you feel is a small tactile haptic tap, which, even when fully explained, still feels like you’re depressing the trackpad two levels.”
None of this should be surprising, because at Apple’s March 9 event for the Apple Watch and 12-inch MacBook, the company also announced very similar updates to the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. While these new 15-inch MacBook Pro models look to be sticking with the previous generation of Intel processors for now, at least according to Apple’s website, the Air models received newer fifth-generation Intel Core i5 processors (also known by the code name Broadwell), while the 13-inch MacBook Pro received the new generation of processors, and also the same Force Touch trackpad as the 12-inch MacBook.
Based on our previous benchmarks with both OS X and Windows computers, moving to those fifth-generation Core i-series CPUs from Intel will have only a modest impact on application performance, but could potentially add more than the one hour of additional battery life Apple is promising from the new 15-inch MacBook Pro, for a total of about nine hours.
In the 2015 version of the 13-inch MacBook Air, we noted: “The performance boost, as in most Broadwell systems, is slim to negligible, but the greater power efficiency of those new chips pays a significant dividend.” The 2015 version of the Air ran for 18 hours on our video playback battery drain test, which was about 90 minutes longer than the 2014 version, and the 2015 update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro ran for 15:46 in the same test.
Also updated is the 27-inch version of Apple’s all-in-one iMac with the 5K Retina display. The system originally launched at $2,499 in October 2014. One new configurations is now available at $1,999 and the original version has seen its price drop to $2,299. Both still use last year’s fourth-gen Intel Core i-series processors. The biggest difference between the two configurations is the included graphics card, with a faster 3.5GHz CPU and an AMD Radeon R9 M290X in the higher-end version and a 3.3GHz Core i5 and AMD M290 in the less-expensive one.
The 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at the same $1,999 as previous versions, and is available to order now in the US. We’ll update this preview with international prices and ship dates when available.