At WWDC in June, Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 chip, but nothing else has really changed compared to the M1 version that launched in 2020 (apart from the price which has increased in certain parts of the world, but not in the U.S.). But while the 2022 13-inch MacBook Pro (reviewed here) lacks the impact of the the MacBook Air, which has seen a complete redesign and gained a larger screen, should you consider buying one?
You’d be hard-pressed to tell the M1 and M2 MacBook Pro apart. Nothing has changed between the two models. It’s not that the design isn’t beautiful and practical, it’s just that it looks dated in contrast with the redesigned 2022 MacBook Air, and the 14-inch MacBook Pro, both of which share a similar design language.
If you sit a 13-inch MacBook Pro down beside any of the other Mac laptops you will notice that the bezels around the edge of the display are a lot thicker and the screen smaller. However, there is one potential benefit to this, depending on your viewpoint. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is now the only Mac laptop (other than the M1 MacBook Air that’s still on sale) that doesn’t feature a notch.
The purpose of the notch is to contain the camera, allowing Apple to reduce the bezel at the top and stretch the screen up a little higher. Some think that the notch spoils the design, others note that it doesn’t really result in any less workable space because the menu is placed either side of the notch (although it can get in the way in full screen mode). It’s a compromise you have to make if you want a larger display.
13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M2: Touch Bar
There is one other feature of the 13-inch MacBook Pro that sets it aside from every other Mac. This is the only model that retains the Touch Bar, a feature that Apple added to the MacBook Pro back in 2016 and removed from the 14-inch and 16-inch Pros in 2021.
The Touch Bar is a divisive feature – some find it incredibly useful, others can’t see the point. It essentially replaces the function keys with a LED strip that can be automatically adjusted to suit the app you are using. It’s quite useful for scrubbing through video in an editor, for example, or for adding emoji or correcting typos.
But the market for the Touch Bar was always supposed to be the power users of apps such as Photoshop and Final Cut Pro, and it turned out they didn’t want it. Now that it’s gone from every other model, it seems unlikely that the Touch Bar will survive another update. So, if you are a fan this may be your last opportunity to buy one.
13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M2: Display
The display size of the 13-inch MacBook Pro hasn’t changed since the 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s actually a tad bigger than 13 inches at 13.3 inches measured diagonally and is now the smallest laptop Apple sells after the M2 MacBook Air screen got a bump to 13.6 inches.
Display technology has improved since 2009, but recently not so much. You can expect 2560×1600 pixels, 500 nits brightness, wide colour (P3) and True Tone technology (which means that the colours and brightness adjust according to the ambient light – making it easier on your eyes). None of these features are any different to the previous generation.
If you want a better display the best options come from the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, where you’ll find Liquid Retina XDR display’s with 1,000 nits sustained full-screen, 1,600 nits peak brightness and ProMotion technology for adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz. And the MacBook Air has a Liquid Retina display with rounded corners and support for a billion colors.
13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M2: Specs
The real difference between the M1 and M2 MacBook Pro is what is on the inside. There are two standard M2 MacBook Pro:
8-Core CPU, 10-Core GPU, 8GB Unified Memory (up to 24GB), 256GB SSD Storage (up to 2TB): $1,299/£1,349
8-Core CPU, 10-Core GPU, 8GB Unified Memory (up to 24GB), 512GB SSD Storage (up to 2TB): $1,499/£1,549
The M1 MacBook Pro also had two standard models:
8-Core CPU, 8-Core GPU, 8GB Unified Memory (up to 16GB), 256GB SSD Storage (up to 2TB): $1,299/£1,299
8-Core CPU, 8-Core GPU, 8GB Unified Memory (up to 16GB), 512GB SSD Storage (up to 2TB): $1,499/£1,499
As you can see, the M2 chip offers a number of advantages, including 10-core graphics and up to 24GB unified memory, compared to 8-core graphics and up to 16GB memory.
The extra graphics cores and the ability to support 24GB memory could be reason enough to choose the newer MacBook Pro, but the M2 brings more than that. The M2 delivers improves performance and efficiency for a faster CPU and a more powerful GPU. There’s also a 40 percent faster Neural Engine and 50 percent more memory bandwidth.
As you can see from our Geekbench benchmarks of the CPU in the M2 in our review of the M2 MacBook Pro, the 8-core M2 in the 13-inch MacBook Pro performs better than the M1, as you would expect, but doesn’t beat the 10-core M1 Pro in the 14in MacBook Pro. We have an article explaining why the M2 doesn’t beat the M1 Pro or other variants of the M1.
We also benchmarked the graphics capabilities of the new 10-core GPU and saw improvements compared to the 8-core GPU in the M1 MacBook Pro. It’s still below the 14-core GPU of the M1 Pro, as expected.
Another hidden improvement relates to the audio capabilities of this Mac laptop. While the new M2 MacBook Pro doesn’t offer the four-speaker sound system of the M2 MacBook Air, the new model does gain support for Spatial Audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos on built-in speakers. This includes Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking when using AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M2: Battery life
Battery life is just the same as the M1 model, at 20 hours. This is despite power-efficient improvements in the M2 processor that we thought could lead to battery improvements, but it seems the M2 uses more power than the M1.
In our battery tests the 2022 MacBook Pro fell short of Apple’s claimed 20-hours battery life at 16-hours. In our tests the M1 MacBook Pro managed 18 hours. It’s still a lot more than the Intel MacBook Pro models offered though.
13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M2: Ports and peripherals
Where the M2 MacBook Air has just gained an extra port in the form of MagSafe, which means that you don’t have to give one of your USB/Thunderbolt ports over to charging, the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro still only offers the same two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports as its predecessor.
There is a slight change to the 3.5mm headphone jack, which now adds support for high-impedance headphones.
The only other difference is that the M2 MacBook Pro ships with a 67W Power Adapter, rather than the 61W Power Adapter of the older model. Theoretically this could speed up charging, but it’s not likely to make a huge difference as the 13-inch MacBook Pro doesn’t support fast charging. Also consider our recommendations of the best chargers for MacBook Pro.
13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M2: Price
While the price for the 2022 generation of 13-inch MacBook Pro hasn’t changed in the U.S., it has in other counties.
The M2 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299/£1,349. It previously cost $1,299/£1,299.
The M2 13-inch MacBook Pro with 512GB SSD costs $1,499/£1,549. The equivalent model cost $1,499/£1,499.
It’s interesting to note that there is a similarly speced M2 MacBook Air available for the same price as the more expensive MacBook Pro. You can get an M2 MacBook Air with 512GB SSD and 10-core GPU for $1,499/£1,549. If you are torn between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro we’ve compared the differences between the two models.
Here are the best prices for the M2 MacBook Pro below (MSRP $1,299/£1,349):
Price comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwide
13-inch MacBook Pro M1 vs M2: Our recommendation
Compared to the M1 MacBook Pro there are clear advantages in buying a M2 MacBook Pro, with performance improvements that close the gap some between it and the higher-priced MacBook Pros. It’s also the only Mac with a Touch Bar, the only Mac laptop without a notch, and only the 16-inch MacBook Pro has better battery life. But for many the attraction of the new design of the MacBook Air, along with its bigger, better and brighter display, and a similar price, will be a big factor in a decision not to buy the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro.