I bought a four-year-old MacBook Pro instead of a new one. Here’s why

Alex Blake for Digital Trends:

Apple no longer innovates.” It’s a line we’ve been hearing from naysayers EVER since Tim Cook took over the reigns from Steve Jobs… Apple does innovate, of course, and the latest MacBook Pro models — with monstrous eight-core i9 processors and Touch Bars aplenty — are no exception. There’s enough innovation in both software and hardware to impress even the most curmudgeonly of cynics.

So when the time rolled around for me to kit myself out with a shiny new MacBook, you would think I headed straight for the 2019 MacBook Pro and paid like it was going out of fashion. Wrong. I completely ignored it. In fact, I didn’t so much ignore it as turn around and high-tail it in the opposite direction. I bought a 2015 MacBook Pro instead.

Why opt for a four-year-old MacBook Pro instead of the latest and greatest model from just a few months ago? After all, this year’s model comes with a keyboard that’s even less likely to fail and ignore your key presses. How’s that for innovation?

A 2015 MacBook Pro has more than enough power for most people, and unless there’s a specific reason for you to get a newer model — the Core i9 processor, say — upgrading is not strictly necessary. My demanding workload of browsing cat videos in my pajamas does not require a Touch Bar.

MacDailyNews Take: Keyboard avoidance is a thing, but it’s another overblown issue. We have several MacBook/Air/Pro models with butterfly keyboards of various vintages and and they all work perfectly (it’s we who’re prone to making the typos, not the keyboards).

Beyond the keyboard, there is something to be said for assessing your needs (now and into the foreseeable future) and buying an older model that’ll suit you just fine and cost way less than the newest models. More people should do that, actually.

12 Comments

  1. “More people should do that, actually.”

    More people ARE doing that, simply because computers (desktop or laptop) having gotten so powerful that the vast majority of users simply don’t need any more power than that provided by a 3 or 4 year old model.

    The new Mac Pro is a clear illustration of where Apple is putting its “computer” development dollars. Clue: It isn’t in the casual (or semi-pro) workspace. The angst shown by so many for a $999 display emphasizes the point very well. Those that don’t need XDR Display wouldn’t be buyers at any price. Those that do will gladly pay Apple’s price simply because the XDR Display/Stand combo is less expensive than competing products (something the complainers will not address in their compalints).

  2. Agreed. Back in the day I wanted to upgrade my 2011 Mac mini with one that supported USB 3.0. This was about 2013. Excitedly waited for a possible refresh of the Mac mini in 2014.

    After learning about the 2014 Mac Mini I was fortunate enough to have found brand new 2012 quad-core Mac mini’s being sold at Best Buy AND being on sale. Bought one and over time upgraded the memory to 16 GB and put in a 2TB SSD from OWC. The memory came from them as well. It is still my main computer today. I love the machine.

    I am glad Apple reversed direction with the 2018 Mac mini. Am very excited by those machines.

    I am fortunate to still be using an external Apple keyboard from 2012 the ones with the nice white, chicklet keys. It is still in great condition.

    I do want to upgrade my Mac mini in a year or two. Who knows it maybe to a new 2018 Mac mini if Apple repeats itself. Something tells me that a guy who drives a 2012 Mac mini as his main machine is NOT the target audience for the new 2019 Mac Pro. 😀 But I am very excited by the machine and for those professionals who are the target audience.

  3. I just purchased a used, in excellent condition 2015 MacBook Pro (512GB SSD, 16GB RAM) for my lovely bride to replace her 2011 MacBook Pro. She’s quite happy with it and now I have a Mac laptop for when I need to travel.

  4. I have a MBP (2018) beefed up with extra RAM and SSD. BIGGEST REGRET in my use and purchasing of macs since the 1980s (first was SE30). Keyboard is garbage. Pure and simple. Good luck to those who haven’t suffered, but those that do, know exactly what I’m talking about. A simple case of form over function, design before utility.

    1. Have never liked Apples too-thin chiclet keyboards. I am not a superb touch typist, but do fairly well except the chiclet kind. Always messing up and having to look at the darn keyboard. Still using/loving my Macally iKey from way back in the day (year). Even some of the industrial Dell keyboards I find easier to use (after a little system prefs changes).
      I also like the Matias keyboard, though have had a little problem with a key or two breaking. I think that may be due to one of my Pharmacist’s heavy hand.

      1. I totally agree. The best keyboards I have are an old “tall key” Apple keyboard, and a similar Microsoft keyboard that I ended up with somehow. The taller keys had a smaller “target point” as I would call it for lack of an official word. You were required to be more accurate in your typing and you could feel it when you hit the sweet spot. You became faster and more acurate.

        The new “chiclet” keys from all manufacturers allow you to tap the key nearly anywhere and you “might” get enough pressure or not, but the harmful side effect is that it is far easier to accidentally hit an adjacent incorrect key.

        Style over substance, true in so many areas, computer and otherwise.

        I work in a school system with 9000 K-12 student computers and all of the computer teachers will confirm what I am saying. Tablets are obviously worse. They are rarely used outside the primary grades and for game-like “teaching” applications. Emphasis on “game”.They are far more prone to damage, requiring replacement.

        Althought part of the problem is that true literacy, spelling, etc, levels are falling and have been for 40 years. But thats a cultural thing and we are required to work with whoever comes in the door, and at the high school level, its too late for us to do much.

        1. High school is when I learned to type properly, and stop the hunt-and-peck. Grade 9 keyboarding is probably the most important class I took.

          The “chiclet” keyboards that came out in 2006 Macbooks were the best keyboards I’ve typed on; the keyboards before it had slopes on all 4 sides that made it more prone to hitting adjacent keys, the chiclets did not. Apple’s latest chiclets (2015/16 onward) are terrible to type on, though. Like iPhones, they went too thin and functionality was compromised… and that’s before the technical issues that’s plagued MB keyboards.

          Was considering a new or refurbished entry-level MB or MBAir as a present for a milestone birthday… but between the terrible keyboards and inadequate storage and outrageous cost to upgrade ($200 for a mere 128GB bump?? A 1 TB SSD for my 2012 MBP was only $100!!), I think that option’s off the table. Value is just not there, and last thing I want is play tech support for what should be the absolute most basic component on a laptop.

          1. RE: the “slope sided” keyboards as you referred to them would not activate a keystroke if you hit the side of them, as I said in my comment about my beloved “tall key”boards had the slope sides, and you had to hit the sweet spot on the top. That was a good thing, not a bad thing because the design taught you the perfect placement of the key stroke, by requiring it. The flat keyboards are worse because the “target” is too large, leading to adjacent key hits. You don’t promote accuracy by allowing to large of a target, you promote sloppiness.

  5. I also recently bought a refurbished 2015 2.8GHz i7, 16GB SSD MacBook Pro and it’s in excellent condition. My reason for buying that model is basically because of the (alleged?) recent keyboard problems in the newer MacBook Pros. I simply didn’t want to be bothered with the annoyance of having to replace keyboards. It wasn’t the higher price or anything like that. I’m very satisfied with this 2015 MacBook Pro I just bought because I don’t use it for anything requiring an ultra high-end model. The keyboard feels perfect to me. I just wanted something that’s reliable and could run the latest MacOS. It runs Mojave beautifully and I’ve no doubt Catalina will also be terrific.

    My ancient 2007 MacBook Pro is still running (rather slowly) and the Snow Leopard OS is almost useless to me for decent browsing. I really got my money’s worth from that C2D MacBook Pro and I expect to get the same out of this newer 2015 MacBook Pro. They say Apple products aren’t worth the money, but I have to disagree with that.if financial amortization comes into play.

    1. I still have (but haven’t used it for 3-4 years) my graphite gray clamshell MacBook from the late 1990s-2000, the one with the fold out carrying handle. Also, still have the white MacBook that replaced it and it still works although it has trouble accessing most of the current websites but for playing music and reviewing some of my old legacy documents and art work it’s functional. When my late 2013/early 2014 MacBook Pro was misplaced for months after a recent move I bought a refurbished 2017 MacBook Air with 512 GB SSD and it has performed flawlessly for 6 months now, keyboard included. I found the 2014 Pro and now I alternate between the two so one charges up while the other is in use. I don’t notice any difference between the two keyboards. I treasure all of these machines—much as I did my Apple IIe back in the early 1980s; the SE, SE30 all of which I sold when I updated. Apple has been great for me.

  6. The problem with buying old models is that it will lose official macOS updates much sooner.

    Secondly, those 2015 MacBook Pros ran HOT! Lap scalding hot!

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