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Apple's new MacBook Pros get a much-needed performance boost

| Thursday, July 12, 2018, 12:33 p.m.
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the company's newest products during a media event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group/TNS)
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the company's newest products during a media event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Apple on Thursday announced a long-awaited update for the MacBook Pro, giving the laptops a much-needed performance bump but not any meaningful change in design. Most notably, Apple has not fully changed the design of the laptops’ keyboards, which have drawn serious complaints from consumers who find them unreliable.

The new models - one 13-inch model and one 15-inch model, both with Apple’s Touch Bar - have new chips that Apple said should dramatically increase performance. The company said in a news release that the 15-inch model is up to 70 percent faster, while the 13-inch model is twice as fast. Both have more storage than before: The 15-inch model can go up to a four-terabyte solid-state drive, while the smaller model maxes out at two terabytes.

The laptops will also have a new “Hey Siri” capability that allows people to trigger Apple’s voice assistant without having to hit a combination of keys beforehand.

The computers start at $1,800 for the smaller model and $2,400 for the larger version; with all the bells and whistles added, the most expensive version of the new models could cost $6,700.

Despite the upgrades, consumers may be unhappy to hear that these new computers retain the basic MacBook’s basic keyboard design - which has drawn three class-action lawsuits that claim it’s faulty. The slim design is supposed to cut down on bulk, but consumers report its keys are prone to stick and break easily - they can even be flummoxed by a single piece of dust, as was the case for the Outline’s Casey Johnston.

Apple says only a small number of people who use the MacBook have keyboards that are actually faulty and has launched a program offering free repairs for those people. But while the updated MacBooks have an “improved third-generation” keyboard that it promises will be quieter, the company has stayed committed to its key design.

Fans of Apple’s laptops have also been expecting updates to the more basic MacBook, as well as the lightweight MacBook Air. Neither have had a substantial upgrade in years.

A research note from reliable Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo of KGI Securities published Thursday indicates there will be some upgrades this fall, though Apple may replace the MacBook Air with a “low-cost” MacBook model, 9to5Mac reported. The same note also speculates an update to the iPhone X, as well as two larger models of the iPhone - one with a 6.1-inch LCD screen and the other with a 6.5-inch OLED screen.

Apple declined to comment on the rumors.

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