Hands-on review: Updated: New MacBook 2015

Apple’s new Macbook is all about style, while still combining it with oodles of power. This is apparently the ‘notebook redefined’ according to the Cupertino brand, and it certainly does push the envelope in one area: the lightness of this thing is insane.

The specs are pretty goshdarn good as well, with the new Macbook coming in at just 13.1mm thin and weighing 2 pounds (or 900g). That’s insane when you consider there’s a battery in there which has 35% more capacity than previous models, and also offers up to 9 hours of web browsing too.

The new notebook comes with a 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.4 GHz, 8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300. If you want to turn the power up a little, then you can go for 1.2 GHz dual-core option, with Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6GHz, 8GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300.

There’s already been a bit of fuss around performance of the Intel Core M CPU following a supposed benchmark that crept onto the internet. A Geekbench result that has since been deleted found that the new MacBook’s CPU is practically the same strength as the one in the 2011 MacBook Air.

Whether that’s true or not, the cheaper configuration will cost $1299 / £1049, and the latter $1599 / £1299… not cheap despite the boosted specs and design. Speaking of which…


The new Macbook is so light you could mistake it for a half-empty sheaf of papers. Holding it in one hand is quite unnerving, as you feel you could snap it without holding properly.

New Macbook 2015 review

The balance is excellent. Yes, you can feel it tipping towards the screen ever so slightly, but the overall feel is of a well-weighted laptop that you could type on with one hand.

The screen doesn’t extend too far back – possibly 50 degrees beyond straight – but it’s acceptable. Plus you’ll just push it over anyway, such is the lack of weight.

New Macbook

The edges of the Macbook are smooth and pleasant, with no sharpness to be found. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t want to see if it would bend in front of the stand bunnies at the Apple launch, but I didn’t get the feeling that was a mistake Apple was going to make twice.

The keyboard has been retooled to include a ‘butterfly hinge’ underneath each key. This means they’re massive and to be honest, lacking in travel. I’m sure that’s the sort of thing that after a while will become a genius idea for some, but in my brief time with it all I could think was ‘man, these are some big ol’ keys’.

The travel was pretty minimal though – having come from typing on a Macbook Pro, with one of the easiest keyboards I’ve ever found to tap away on, I wasn’t instantly blown away by the improvement. The keys felt more solid under my fingertips, but that was never an issue I had a lot of problems with before.

It feels like Apple has solved a problem that wasn’t there – but done it well anyway.

New Macbook

The force touchpad is cool, with levels of clicks that aren’t really there. That’s to say that the more you press down, the more levels of haptic you hit – it’s a cool idea but one that requires some sensitivity.

I played with it trying to fast forward through a video with different levels of sensitivity – I got quite adept within seconds, but it did require concentration.

New Macbook

As did remembering that the force touch was there. The idea that you can use it to expand the content you’re looking for (be it more information on words, or a location in an email) is a good one – I’m just not sure the experience is as intuitive as it could be.

The touchpad could do more than just letting you click on things. An app called Inklet by Ten One design lets you use a pressure-sensitive stylus to draw by pressing down on it. It’s the first third-party app to support the force touchpad, and it remains to be seen whether it will be anywhere near as precise as dedicated graphics tablets.

New Macbook 2015 review

The lack of any port bar the USB-C connector for HDMI, power and, well, everything else, is a bold one. Initially I was saddened by the loss of so many ports, but if it makes the new Macbook this thin, I’m all over it.

I don’t think I’ll be able to survive on one port, which means that I’ll be carrying around some connected doohickey for a long while yet. Even ethernet is still needed from time to time, and I’m not sure that’s even supported.

New Macbook 2015 review

There is a headphone jack in the side of the new Macbook, which almost seems to dictate the size of the frame itself. I didn’t think I’d be saying this so soon, but laptops and mobile phones are getting to the point where the thickness isn’t that different.

The new Macbook felt super speedy in tests, but then again with that much power on board I’d worry if it couldn’t perform during rudimentary testing.

New Macbook 2015 review

Shout has to go out to the new Retina display as well – its clear, bright and seems over the top in terms of sharpness already – that’s Apple all over, right?

New Macbook 2015 review

Early verdict

This is a great design from Apple, bringing a 12-inch laptop with a Retina display and stunning lightweight chassis for not much in the way of compromise… apart from the price, with it starting at $1299.

It comes in silver, gold and space gray, all of which look really neat (space gray really is classy) and man… this thing is SO LIGHT.