The new Apple MacBook Pro 13 M1 is very good, but where are the Pro features compared to the MacBook Air?
Apple offers two different versions of the MacBook Pro: the entry-level unit with two Thunderbolt ports, and a more expensive model with four Thunderbolt ports. Until recently, both versions were equipped with Intel CPUs, and the entry-level model was less powerful. However, similar to the new MacBook Air, Apple now equips the entry-level MacBook Pro 13 with its own M1 processor.
It is based on the ARM architecture and offers plenty of performance. As we have seen in our comprehensive review, the M1 beats the mobile processors from Intel and AMD in almost all benchmarks. The subjective performance impression is also great, and macOS seems to be running better on M1 silicone and you can even use all iOS apps on the MacBook. Even the old apps for Intel Macs are compatible thanks to an integrated emulator. There can still be some issues, but the overall experience including the performance is already very good. The chip is also more efficient, so the fan is usually quieter and the battery runtime is longer.
There are two improvements in terms of connectivity with Wi-Fi 6 and USB 4, but there are limitations when you have a closer look. USB 4 is only supported in the lowest spec (10 Gbps like USB 3.1 Gen.2) and the WLAN module only supports 80 MHz, so the Wi-Fi speeds actually did not improve. Otherwise, there are no changes; case, display, input devices, and speakers are carried over from the previous model.
All in all, the new MacBook Pro 13 M1 is an excellent subnotebook, but there is a problem: the new MacBook Air. The latter offers pretty much the same performance thanks to the M1 upgrade and the display also supports the wider P3 color gamut now. Both models are also identical in terms of connectivity. You will hardly notice any difference between the two in everyday usage scenarios. The only exception is the Touch Bar of the Pro model, but this is a matter of taste to be honest.
We miss the Pro features on the MacBook Pro 13 that would justify the higher price compared to the MacBook Air M1. The Air just offers a better price-performance ratio, so it gets our ourchase recommendation. Please see our in-depth reviews of the two devices for more information: