just bought a new Mac. A high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro to be precise. It replaces my 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro that acquired a crack in the display, which, as it turns out, is expensive to fix.
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So, I fired up the Apple Store app on my iPhone, tapped a few options, clicked “Buy,” handed over thousands of dollars to Apple, and got a new MacBook Pro delivered the next day.
As one might expect, the buying process itself was as stress-free and tranquil as you could imagine. And that makes sense. After all, you are in the process of making a pretty big financial investment.
But scratch beneath the surface of that buying process and it’s easy to notice the cracks.
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The first problem is the hardware selection on offer.
When planning to buy a Windows-based PC, there’s almost no end of options from a wide array of OEMs. Want a certain kind of laptop with a specific screen size and battery life? Chances are good that, with a bit of internet sleuthing, you’ll find one that matches your needs.
When buying from Apple, that’s all different.
While, on the face of it, it seems that Apple has a broad selection of hardware on offer, in actual fact it doesn’t. First off, you can rule out the older than dirt stuff like the MacBook, iMac, and Mac Pro. So, for me, I wanted a MacBook Pro, which meant a 2017-model 13-inch without the Touch Bar, or a 2018-model offered in 13- and 15-inch with the Touch Bar.
If I were buying a 2017 era Windows laptop, I’d expect to pay a budget price. Not the case with Apple, as the 2017 MacBook Pro with a 13-inch display starts at a robust $1,299.
I wanted a 15-inch MacBook Pro, which meant going for one with the dubiously useful Touch Bar. Apple doesn’t offer anything to compare to the Microsoft Surface line, or the myriad other convertible systems that run Windows. If I wanted a tablet, I have to go for a scaled-up iPhone running iOS.
Another thing to prepare yourself when buying from Apple is how ridiculously fast the prices go up when you start adding in the optional extras. Upgrading the Core i7 processor to a Core i9 adds $300. A RAM bump from 16GB to 32GB is an extra $400, and storage upgrades can add anything from $400 for a bump to a 1TB drive, to $3,200 for the 4TB drive option.
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Yes, you can put a $3,200 drive into a laptop that has a base price of $2,799.
It’s less a case of how fast do you want your laptop to be, and more of how fast to do you want to spend?
OK, but we all know that Apple hardware is expensive. It’s a fact of life, and to Apple’s credit, the buying process is smooth, and the new MacBook Pro was in my hands in well under 24 hours, with notifications along the way, and the ability to track my new machine all the way from dispatch to delivery.
But the price isn’t all that’s broken with Mac buying process.
Another stick in the bicycle spokes is how few connectivity options are offered. It’s a case of “you can have any connectivity, as long as it’s four USB-C ports and a headphone jack.”
For someone who has been using Macs for a while, and who has accumulated a lot of USB and Thunderbolt 2 hardware, the switch to USB-C is jarring. You’re either looking at a future that’s hip-deep in docks and dongles, or large-scale hardware extinction.