Make MacBooks Great AgainJun 18, 2018
I bought a MacBook Pro in early 2014. It was my first Apple laptop ever.
This machine is glorious. It’s a joy to use. The MagSafe connector, AirDrop, Continuity, Handoff, macOS, and plenty of other things all contribute to a pleasant experience.
It has served me well for almost five years. Superb touchpad and screen. I use it for development with Docker, VMs, and all that jazz. It gets a tad slow sometimes, but it’s almost as zippy as when I originally bought it.
After all these years of honored service, I’m looking to replace it with a newer model equipped with a larger SSD and a faster processor.
The problem is that Apple has seemingly stopped producing good laptops since 2016. It seems they are more interested in producing beautiful aluminum sculptures rather than catering to the practical needs of “pros”.
Newer models have many shortcomings: no more MagSafe, only USB-C ports forcing me to carry a bunch of dongles, and a smaller battery that lasts less than older models. It also still has problems with the anti-reflecting coating on the screen coming off after a while.
I could put up with most of these flaws, except for one: the keyboard. It is so unreliable that a single speck of dust can make it unusable. It’s also so hard to fix a key that Apple prefers to replace the entire top case when the keyboard fails. Since Apple doesn’t recognize it as a manufacturing problem, out of warranty repairs are expensive, as in several hundred euros expensive.
This problem is very real and happens as frequently as every six months. I don’t want a laptop that wants me to spend hundreds of euros in repairs every six months after the warranty is over.
The keyboard is the primary interface between me and the laptop. It has to work. It has to be reliable.
They now have a repair program and they say turnaround times are five business days or more. Being deprived of my work laptop for a week is unacceptable. Especially if you’re knowingly selling me a defective model.
Since they replaced the old, reliable, keyboard with the new version across the board, I have no other choice but to buy the same defective laptop.
I now have to choose between having a laptop with the latest CPU or one that actually works.
We are at the point where several people are discouraging others from buying the latest MacBook Pros, telling them to buy the 2015 model instead, or even older ones.
I find this trend worrying. Instead of improving its hardware, Apple is sacrificing everything in the name of making a laptop 1-millimeter thinner and 100 grams lighter. At some point, returns diminish drastically and we reached that point in 2016 already.
I’m in the lucky position of not being that much locked into the Apple ecosystem. I could switch to something else if I’m really forced to do so.
Having a lineup of products working well together is Apple’s biggest strength, but also its biggest weakness.
I bought an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and AirPods because I first bought a MacBook Pro. Not having a decent work laptop could be the reason for me to sell them all.
The iPhone becomes a bit less special without AirDrop, Continuity and Handoff. The Apple Watch can only be used with an iPhone. AirPods are magical, but only when used together with a Mac and an iPhone.
If I can’t take advantage of all the synergies between their devices, why have them all in the first place? I could probably do the same with way cheaper (but still good) pieces of equipment at that point.
Once I cross the line, it’s over. Apple can only push things so far before people start looking for alternatives.
Apple, it’s time to make your laptops great again.