Apple pulled out every bit of magical marketing it could during the announcement of the 12-inch MacBook. The elaborate and beautifully produced videos are like a crack addiction with Jony Ive’s British accent luring you in. The new MacBook was touted to be revolutionary — no surprise there — and groundbreaking. But did Apple hit the mark with the new MacBook, let’s find out in our 12″ Apple MacBook review.
Whether you’re a fan of Apple or not, its design is usually one of the best things about buying an Apple product and the 12″ MacBook doesn’t disappoint. It’s super thin and super light, coming in at 2.03lbs, which is amazing and easy to carry around all day. Honestly, the machine feels and looks like an iPad Air 2 with a keyboard cover on it.
Speaking of keyboard, the new keyboard design is nice. It will take time to get used to the new, shallower butterfly keys and you may or may not like them. The trackpad design is awesome, as are all MacBook trackpads. This one has the added benefit of Force Touch and that makes it even nicer to use.
Two ports, this is all you get with the MacBook. One headphone jack and one USB-C port. This limits the amount of peripherals you can use with this machine to basically almost none. Unless you get dongles and extensions, you’re looking at very limited interface options. I also have to say that I miss the mag-safe connector. I have five kids and the mag-safe connector has saved my MacBook Pro Retina more than a few times. With the new connector, you’ll have to be more vigilant where you plug-in.
Overall, the design, look and feel of the 12″ MacBook is one of its strongest selling points and Apple really did an amazing job on this one.
The MacBook sports a 12″ LED IPS display with a 2304-by-1440 resolution and 226PPI and it is the second selling point of this laptop. The display is absolutely mind-blowingly beautiful and working and looking at this display is a great experience. Colors are spot on, not oversaturated but balanced. Blacks and whites are great and watching video on this machine is a joy.
Overall the display is a home run, Apple did another great job at making a crisp, balanced and functional display.
Software / Ecosystem
OS X El Capitan has proven to be a nice improvement over OS X Yosemite. Even on my 15″ MacBook Pro Retina it seemingly runs much faster and smoother. If you live in the Apple ecosystem everything will just fall into place nice and smooth. I guess the best way to say this is. Those who hate Apple will hate OS X, simply because they hate Apple. Those who currently use OS X will be happy. Those who’ve never used OS X should know that it is very worthwhile considering it as your operating system.
The 12″ MacBook is running a dual-core Intel Core M processor, which you can configure from 1.1GHz to 1.3GHz. The base MacBook comes with the 1.1GHz and it does a great job at running the basics and then some. Before I go on, let’s be clear, this MacBook is not going to be a power user machine. That being said, the 1.1GHz Intel M processor is surprisingly great. You also get two storage options, 256GB or 512GB.
My reasons for buying the MacBook were two fold; I wanted something light and easy to carry during CES 2016 and I wanted OS X. Some of the other stuff I need it for is photo and video editing. Before I purchased the MacBook I researched heavily. In my research, I found most of the it pointed at this machine being able to handle light photo and video editing and that is indeed true.
I’m not running Photoshop on the MacBook, instead I opted for Affinity as it’s lighter and it runs great on the MacBook. Word of warning though, as I said before, this is not a power user machine so heavy photo editing is probably going to bog it down. Still, I was able to comfortably have a dozen files open in Affinity and the MacBook never flinched.
Running Final Cut Pro also works and rendering 1080p video works pretty well, I wouldn’t even attempt 4K video editing here. I would also stay away from heavy video editing, this is a portable and take-on-the-run laptop, the Intel M is not going to handle huge files very well.
Overall though, the Intel M in the MacBook does surprisingly well. I’m able to run photo and video editing software to do basic, small editing projects. Everything else a computer should do works just fine on the MacBook. Email, browsing, social media etc etc, you’ll have no issues running day to day Internet and word processing type tasks.
Speakers / Sound
In two words — holy crap! I wasn’t expecting great sound from this little machine but the MacBook delivers. Watching movies on this with those speakers is a very enjoyable experience.
In two words — total crap! On the reverse side of the speakers I was expecting the FaceTime camera to at least be a 720p (at minimum) shooter. Instead, Apple went to the dumpsters and retrieved their old stock of 2007 white MacBook iSight cameras.
Apple advertises around nine hours of battery life using the web only. I was able to get around 7-8 hours with my regular use which includes photo editing with Affinity Photo. The battery life is pretty decent and USB-C charges the MacBook fairly fast.
Price / Value
In two words — seriously overpriced! For all the great things the 12″ MacBook brings to the table it’s price tag is the single biggest reasons NOT to buy this machine. Starting at $1,299 and heading close to the $1,800 territory specced out, Apple really got greedy with this laptop. While there’s a lot to love about this laptop, I don’t think it’s enough to justify that crazy price. You can get a better specced MacBook Air for $999, minus the Retina display, which will run heavier apps and be more of a power machine.
The only thing that pushed me to purchase the MacBook was my need for a light laptop for CES 2016 and not wanting to leave the OS X ecosystem to do it. Walking around CES with a full size laptop in a backpack along with other gear for 6-7 days is tiring and that is the only reason I pulled the trigger. Apple got my money but for the price, I wanted more. This would have been a better value priced at $899.
A powerful and portable laptop with an amazing screen, great build quality, good battery life and OS X. But Apple priced this way too high. Only buy this if you really are curious, otherwise, buy a MacBook Air or a Windows equivalent.