Long-time readers know that I am not a fan of the Touch Bar. I understand that many people like it, but for me, forcing my eyes to the keyboard is not a time saver, especially when the Touch Bar has also taken over the physical Escape key.
If asked, I imagine Apple would say that sales of Touch Bar equipped Macs have been strong, much stronger than their non-Touch Bar alternatives. And I have no doubt that that's true, because Apple has seriously handicapped the non-Touch Bar Macs.
Want a 15" non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro? Sorry, that machine no longer exists—and when it did exist, it was multiple generations older than the Touch Bar models available at the time.
So let's look at the 13" MacBook Pro, where you can still buy a non-Touch Bar model. I configured a non-Touch Bar machine with the fastest CPU available, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. I then configured a Touch Bar model to match. Here's how certain features on the two models compare…
|Feature||13" Touch Bar MBP||13" Non-Touch Bar MBP|
8th-generation Intel Core i7
Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
7th-generation Intel Core i7
Turbo Boost up to 4.0GHz
|Graphics||Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655||Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640|
|Display||2560x1600 Retina True Tone||2560x1600 Retina|
|Touch ID1The 13" MacBook Air proves that Apple can do Touch ID without Touch Bar||Yes||No|
To sum it up, the extra $300 on the Touch Bar machine gets you:
- An OLED display strip embedded above the keyboard
- A CPU that's one generation newer—with faster clock speeds and twice the cores
- Faster graphics
- A True Tone display
- Two additional Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Bluetooth 5.0—faster, longer range, lower power draw
- Touch ID
All that for $300—from the same company that charges $600 for a 32GB iMac RAM upgrade that you can buy for under $200. There's no doubt which machine you'd order—and which machine Apple wants you to order—if you were in the market and didn't mind the Touch Bar: The non-Touch Bar Mac is clearly inferior to the Touch Bar version.
If Apple is such a firm believer in the tech that is the Touch Bar, they should make it a customer-configurable item: Every configuration of laptop should offer a version with and without the Touch Bar. They could do this via the customization screen, letting the end user delete the Touch Bar (and save a few bucks, given the cost of the OLED screen). Touch ID, though, would remain, as Apple has shown they can do Touch ID without the Touch Bar in the MacBook Air.
If they had offered this option when I bought my MacBook Air, I would've chosen a MacBook Pro instead. But there's no way I was going to spend that much money for non-current tech just to avoid something that shouldn't be there in the first place.
Come on, Apple, level the playing field and let the customer decide how they want their keyboards to look and work.