M1-powered MacBook Pro heading this way

Four months ago, I posted an article about how Apple are forcing me to upgrade my MacBook hardware. With the recent release of Big Sur and the new M1-powered MacBooks, I'm now at the sharp end of deciding what to do.

For most of the things I do these days, I could get by with my 12.9-inch iPad Pro. I believe the iPad Pro is Apple's offering of best value and it's all the computer most people will need. Add a stand and a keyboard and you're good to go. You can even use a mouse with it now. If somebody asks me what they should buy as a good all-round computer — and they have no specific requirements that would dictate otherwise — I recommend the iPad. Sure, it's a learning curve if you're not used to doing most of your computing on that platform, but it would be my first choice.

The problem is, I'm a recovering software engineer and, despite following a robust 12-step programme of therapy, I cannot resist the urge to write code. Coding is one of the few things you cannot do on the iPad. There's no iPad xCode and I really can't be without a macOS device of some sort.

I am still a bit old-school too. There are things I can certainly do on an iPad but years of conditioning mean I do them much more efficiently on a laptop. Things like image manipulation feel much more natural to me on macOS. I accept that's laziness on my part. I could learn to be more efficient on my iPad — and for 90% of things I've done that — but, well, I dunno, I'm just disinclined to do so for the outstanding tasks.

I currently use a 15-inch, early 2013 MacBook Pro and it has been a great machine. I've had keyboard issues a few times but, other than that, it has been a solid. It is however obsolete now according to Apple. The differences between the early 2013 model and the late 2013 model, which is not obsolete, are minor but, it seems, crucial. Most telling, perhaps, is that early 2013 models use Intel's Ivy Bridge architecture and late 2013 models use the Haswell architecture. The later models also have a different graphics card.

Apple could still have allowed Big Sur to run on early 2013 MacBooks and I'm sure there'll be third-party hacks of the OS that will run fine on such machines. But Apple also have a policy of calling anything over seven years old obsolete. Presumably this helps them on the way to their next trillion.

This has changed my requirements for buying a laptop. Perhaps it was a throwback to my days of using Windows, but I always used to spec laptops high on the basis that they'd have greater longevity. My current MacBook was specced as high as it could go at the time. If you need the oomph, that might still be a valid policy. But, if you don't, then you need to bear in mind that your MacBook will be obsolete in seven years come what may.

Apple's graphic for the M1 chip.

I have thus bitten the bullet. It tasted a little sour but I've ordered an M1-chipped MacBook Pro. I had to decide whether I should wait to see what the 16-inch laptops look like with Apple silicon, but a period of reflection suggested that doesn't matter to me. My current MacBook is already powerful enough for my needs and I would imagine even an entry-level M1-powered MacBook will blow its underpants off. Yes, I'm going for a smaller form-factor but (a) I'm used to that form-factor with my iPad and (b) I've been thinking about getting a monitor to plug into my MacBook for some time, so there's always that option down the line if I want more screen space.

The order is in and Apple tells me it will be delivered in mid-December, although, as has been the case with some of the M1-powered laptops people have already ordered, I hope it will arrive a bit sooner.

I'll post a review and a comparison between my 2013 MacBook when I've got my head around the new machine.

In the interim I'm just going to grant Apple carte blanche with my bank account so that they're free to dip in and out of it as they choose. It would save a lot of hassle. Once I've finished this article I'll be packaging up the shirt off my back to send to them too.