A lot of people have been asking, should I get the new MacBook M1, or wait for the next generation of M1X MacBooks? I bought an M1 MacBook, here's why.
The news of the new MacBook M1 generation has been trending a lot, and it is much bigger news than many of Apple's previous releases. Not only due to the fact that the new M1 processors are incredibly fast, but also due to the proven design Apple is using.
The MacBook generations since 2016 often had a variety of issues.
- Keyboard issues due to dust falling in-between keys - Source
- Overheating - Source
- Thin and easy to break display connection cables, also called Flexgate - Source
Let's also separate real issues from customer complaints, such as the following:
- Dislike of the Touch Bar, mostly, the removal of the Escape key
- Removal of the Audio Jack
- Dongle hell, needing dongles for everything since the introduction of USB-C
While these may not be what people want, it does not cause damage the devices, and it is the way Apple tries to innovate and move the market forward towards the future. Apple has always tried to push innovation in a forceful way, because in every change, there will be users who prefer the older versions.
Why am I bringing this up? Because Apple has been perfecting the one and the same design over and over. What we now have is the result of years of work and a nearly flawless design. Let's have a look at the M1 Macs.
What About the M1 Mac?
If we look at the M1 devices, we can see most of these issues are actually already resolved!
- Keyboard issues? Fixed, Apple went back to the more traditional scissor style switches instead of the butterfly keyboard, which caused a lot of issues.
- Overheating? The M1 chips are said to remain very cool even under long periods of high load.
- Display connection cable issues? Apple has solved this issue back in 2018.
- Audio Jack? It's back!
All the most critical issues seem to be resolved. Furthermore, the M1 laptops are using a very familiar and trusted design. Apple really knows this design, since the design has barely changed over the years. This design just works and there shouldn't be too many unexpected issues.
Now, no device is ever perfect. Here are some of the downsides of the current M1 MacBooks:
- There are only 2 USB-C connectors
- The charger does not have MagSafe, so there is no avoiding your laptop falling when tripping over the charging cable
- The M1 only supports one extra external screen, not more
Comparing these remarks to the previous generations, these do not seem like a big deal. The devices are speedy and work as expected. Whether this device is perfect for your use-case, depends on your workflows.
If you know you will need 3 screens for example for video editing, then you might want to hang on a bit until Apple sorts this out. If you know you will need a lot of USB widgets and connections, you might also want to pass this generation of Macs. Finally, if you are often clumsy and afraid to drop your MacBook, you might want to wait for the next generation for the inclusion MagSafe, although I do not see this as a critical issue, since there are solutions for this.
If you can live without extra USB connectors and only 1 external display, go for it! If your current setup is not working anymore, there is no reason to wait, especially since this generation of Macs are very solid and are all getting amazing reviews in terms of design, speed and reliability.
Let's Talk About The Touch Bar
Let's talk about the elephant in the room. The. Touch. Bar. Some people love it, some people hate it. I understand, if you really need those function keys for working with applications, and really use them a lot, it could be a big change.
If however, you barely use the function keys other than setting the volume and brightness, there should be no reason to dislike it.
Why not give it a shot? I'm a developer/architect, I often use the function keys and yet, I am very excited to give the touch bar a try. We should give it a fair chance, and also actively try to make it work. There are many ways the touch bar can be customized to fit into your efficient workflows.
Unfortunately, Apple has reportedly decided to remove the Touch Bar, as there was a lot of dislike among the MacBook users. I'm not convinced the issue here is the inefficiency of the touch bar, rather than the users not knowing how to optimize and use it to their advantage.
Hopefully we could see it coming back in the future in a different shape, without having to sacrifice the function keys. Only time will tell. One has to admit, the touch bar does look very fancy on the MacBooks.
What About the Next Apple Silicon Generation?
There have been quite some leaks on the next generation of Apple Silicon devices. Here is what we know, keep in mind that these are all speculation and yet to be confirmed by Apple.
- The next Apple Silicon processors will be called M1X and are going to be even faster than the current M1 processors and might feature 12 cores instead of 8 - Source
- The next MacBooks will probably have 14" and 16" screen options - Source
- Apple will remove the touch bar from the next generation MacBooks - Source
- Apple is planning a major MacBook Pro redesign - Source
- Apple is planning to bring back more ports to the MacBooks line-up - Source
Those are all quite attractive changes, apart from the removal of the touch bar in my opinion. More CPU cores, an even faster and redesigned MacBook.
Why You Should Not Wait
Why should you not wait until the next generation? As a matter of fact, Apple has been perfecting this one simplistic MacBook design for a very long time, and it hasn't changed much.
If Apple were to make a major redesign, Apple will surely have less experience with this new design in terms of cooling, potential heating issues or even screens (think of the Flexgate incident for example).
Surely the next generation MacBooks will be very nice, but will they be as stable as the current high-end, perfected products they are? I have my doubts.
The Vicious Cycle of Waiting
There is another issue with waiting. I have been waiting since 2018 to purchase a new MacBook. However, there were always issues, such as butterfly switches on keyboards, or even leaks regarding the next generation devices which kept me waiting for the next generations.
At some point, you will end up waiting for another year, another year and so on, since the next year's devices will always be better and faster, and you'll want to wait to get an even faster device.
Waiting due to information from leaks is also quite a gamble. There is no guarantee the leaks are correct, and furthermore no guarantee on the upcoming release dates. It might be in 2021, or 2022. This will keep you waiting longer and longer.
At the end of the day, if your current devices are not good enough to fulfill your current workflows, and the current generation devices fill more than that gap, then it is by my definition a great purchase.
Why You Should, Actually, Wait
If any of the downsides mentioned are critical for your workflows, I do recommend to wait a bit longer until the next generation is released. If you however still can not wait and need a new machine as soon as possible, then go for the M1.
Note, all this research comes from my own personal experience. I am currently using a 2013 MacBook Pro, which still works quite well for basic usage, but is starting to get slow for development and architecture, where even compatibility can be an issue. After researching all the pros and cons, it was time to go for it and purchase the M1 Macbook Pro. It will arrive next week.
Stay tuned for the next update on the brand new M1 MacBook Pro!