I thought the same during the last iPhone keynote where they touted "an extra 30 minutes of battery life" as a major feature: just make it slightly thicker and you could add hours to the battery life.
Steve Jobs once prioritized a thing and found success. Now that Jobs is dead Apple is cargo-culting his past decisions.
See also: hyper-aggressive removal of ports. It made sense in 1998 when we were talking about clearly obsolete things like Apple's nonstandard DIN-8 serial ports and SCSI-1, less so in 2018 when we're talking about performant and ubiquitous standards like USB-A and the headphone jack.
Oh, wow, you really nailed it right on the head, here.
I still use a 'Pixar lamp/sunflower' iMac G4 for writing, design, and I have a massive collection of cartoon seasons that are nicely formatted for it that I watch on the side.
To look at the iMac G4, with it's stunningly beautiful design, and the insanely stable OS X 10.5.8, and compare it to the God-awful 2017 Touch Bar MacBook Pro that my work gave me, is to truly see a company, that in 15 years, has managed to go from creating one of the most inspiring (and still functional!) machines in computing history, to something that, in 2019, I can't even put a USB key in without a $50+ dongle, and can barely type on.
The 2017 MacBook Pro looks sorta like the 2015 MacBook Pro I have in my home music studio...but, with virtually the same i5 processor, the same 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and 1.5GB of VRAM, the more-expensive 2017 model lacks:
• standard USB ports that don't require adapters
• a standard HDMI port
• standard thunderbolt ports (of which I have purchased many existing dongles for)
• MagSafe (has saved my butt more times than I could describe)
• An SSD not soldered to the board (yes, the 2013-2015 models are still removable)
• standard SD card port (I do video and photo editing. having one of these on the side is priceless)
To purchase a 2017/18 MacBook Pro to replace my studio laptop would be a significant downgrade in terms of functionality for my workflow. I mean, significant. These devices look almost identical - yet one of them is virtually useless for my needs by design compared to one from years before.
I loathe using my work laptop. I'm using it right now. I complained to my partner about the butterfly keyboard and yesterday I finally made her use it. She uses the 2015 all the time and made about seven mistakes in the first sentence. The lack of haptic feedback on the touch bar is baffling. These are the kinds of things Apple used to have the foresight to address ahead of time. Now we pay more, and get less.
How the mighty fall.
Apple patented it and refused to license the technology. Hopefully when the patent expires (2025?), we'll see more applications of it.
>The basic concept of MagSafe is copied from the magnetic power connectors that are part of many deep fryers and Japanese countertop cooking appliances since the early 2000s in order to avoid spilling their dangerously hot contents. Apple was granted US Patent No. 7311526 on MagSafe ("Magnetic connector for electronic device", issued in 2007) as MagSafe was deemed to be a sufficient improvement due to the connector being symmetrical and reversible, and the fact that magnets within a connector are arranged in opposing polarities for improved coupling strength.
IMO, it's outrageous that improvement was enough for the patent not to have failed on prior art grounds.
I have one of those Japanese countertop cooking appliances. The magnetic connector is symmetrical. It's very obvious that Magsafe ripped off the design.
This is an unfair characterization. The new MacBook Pros have standard Thunderbolt ports, it just so happens that the new standard has a different shape than what you were used to.
The (2017/8?) MBP of my work collegue starts having problems with the keyboard, he can still type atm but it is annoying to think that soon a service visit with all the hassle might be necessary.
The Dolby HDR screens have a really bad red/pink tint out of the box (about +10% to +15% shift) and I had to buy a Spyder color colorimeter to fix it. The speakers are really terrible, even for speech-driven content like Duolingo. Using headphones isn't much improvement, the Realtek audio drivers are really bad with clicks whenever audio starts & stops (also happens on the X1 Extreme). 
Most notably, the laptop sometimes doesn't charge. The orange charging light would come on, but when I came back the next morning, the battery level hadn't increased. It would only charge while Windows was running. I think it's been fixed in a recent firmware update, but it's been frustrating.
I do love the keyboard and form factor though. I haven't returned it, but often wonder if I should've got a Surface Book or even a Dell instead. Honestly I'd switch back to Apple if I could trust their hardware to be reliable & upgradeable.
In any case I find it really annoying how things are going in PC-land. Around 2010 wasn’t just peak Mac, but peak everything it seems to me. Ubuntu 10, Windows 7, macOS 10.6(?), SSDs, fast and reliable I/O, it all came together. Maybe you can count till 2012 with Retina, but I’ve yet to wait for a machine with Hi-DPI that has both reliable hardware (GPU) AND software (i.e. without terrible scaling issues, especially when also connecting external screens).
I'm guessing you don't have kernal task 2000% CPU problems? Because my 2017 MacBook Pro is 5x the cost of my Chromebook and rarely more functional.
Apple prioritized thinness while Jobs was CEO, and Apple continues to prioritize thinness. Jobs is gone but many of the same product executives remain—Cook, Ive, Schiller, etc and many of their deputies. Is it really that surprising that the product goals are also unchanged?
Complaints about thinness are not a new phenomenon—look back at how the first MacBook Air was greeted for an example. (intro’d by Jobs)
My own suspicion -- buttressed with some off-the-record comments with Apple folks -- is that it's actually Jony Ive who prioritizes thinness over all else. Steve Jobs may not have been an engineer or a designer, but he was often an excellent "editor," of the sort who'd look at a design and say "Why do you need this" or "If you add this it'll be a thousand times more useful" or even "You're focusing on the wrong thing, start over." Post-Jobs, the executive who could do that with Ive was Scott Forstall. Post-Forstall, there doesn't seem to be anyone who does that with Ive anymore.
I'm hopeful that the string of highly visible problems with this most recent iteration of MacBooks will, if nothing else, give someone else in the company power to start pushing back. I don't hate my 2017-era MacBook Pro and I haven't had any real problems with it, but the fact that I'm worried about having problems with it in a way that I've rarely been with other Apple hardware is a problem in and of itself.
I think most of us just don't have enough insight into how Apple develops products to really nail this down (maybe you do; I certainly don't).
Does Jony Ive say "it must be this thin" (holds fingers apart) and then engineering has to go off and remove MagSafe and create a totally new keyboard? Or is engineering already working on new keyboard ideas, and they bring one to the table and say "hey what can we do with this?"
In any case, it's about how the team is operating. Jobs obviously had an impact on that, but where I disagreed with the GP was this idea that thousands of people at Apple just wake up every day and say "dwuhhhhh, what did Steve Jobs do" and then just dumbly do that. Let's give the folks there some credit--which also means holding them accountable for their own decisions.
> * Post-Jobs, the executive who could do that with Ive was Scott Forstall.*
Out of all the top Apple Forum, you are the only one I find who shares the same opinion as I do. So glad I am not alone.
Add to that is software design which Jony now also takes over, It was ( rumoured ) Tim Cook's idea to group the "Design" unit into one. And it was obvious hardware and software design has little in common, and Jony made a complete mess with iOS 7.
I don't know what went wrong. But I miss Scott Forstall. For some reason big companies has a tendency to force their best people out once their previous CEO mentor left their post, Patrick Gelsinger at Intel, Scott Forstall at Apple.
G4 Cube (thermal issues)
Water Cooled G5 (they leak after about 5 years)
iPhone 4 (Antenna issues)
I think it really comes down to software -- MacOS -- which is still significantly better for certain kind of work than Windows or even Linux. Until that changes, people are going to continue to tolerate these hardware problems with Apple computers. I'm definitely one of them.
Just for the record, I have two Touchbar laptops. One from 2016 and one from 2017. The 2016 one, when I first bought it, had the busted keyboard on day one, right from the Apple Store. I went back and swapped it for another one and that had the same issue but with different keys. The third one worked but it started having issues about a year into use. I had that one repaired and now it's having issues again, not even a year after (the symptoms show once the laptop has heated up a bit). It's comical how atrociously bad these laptops are in the reliability department.
My 2017 one was slightly better, in that it worked when I bought it, but it also started having keyboard issues about a year after. Several of my friends who bought the same laptop around the same time also had to take theirs in for service for keyboard issues.
I love my 2012 MBP, but ultimately it's been so unreliable (and I can't stand the new butterfly keyboards) that it pushed me into buying a Windows laptop. I still use the MBP quite regularly when it's working though.
For now I'm getting a Mac Mini instead. Seems like the option with the least amount of risk attached... It has a fast desktop i7, that should last 5+ years, and its not that pricey either.
Apple has had quality issues for much longer than most people realize. It keeps getting worse.
The mid 2012 laptop I bought new went through two separate optical drives before I stopped using the drive altogether and put in another hard drive. The laptop also had two bad logicboards from NVidias recall iirc. One board died a month after getting it new, and the other died almost 3 years later.
To this day it is still going strong. I am starting to run into some video ram type issues (I think). I get random lines on any screen (external / internal) and a full reboot "fixes" it. I don't want to replace it, but after all the Apple changes (iOS devices vs "Pro" devices mainly), I just don't think any of their laptops fit my needs for a device anymore.
Like you said though, Apple has always had some hardware type issues like this. I remember HP, Dell and Lenovo all having big issues like that too when I was on the bench.
"Your computer restarted because of a problem", and subsequently having 20 apps open up on login is the bane of my existence on MacOS. Same issue with my work touchbar MBP.
What I'm doing right now is just using my MacBook pro in lid-closed mode with an external monitor and the Apple wireless keyboard/trackpad, so I can avoid those keyboard issues entirely. It's very stupid I need to even do this, but here we are :)
Apple seems to have a very insular culture. They seem very resistant to even acknowledging external feedback, let alone changing course based on it.
> I think it really comes down to software -- MacOS -- which is still significantly better for certain kind of work than Windows or even Linux.
That, and the Apple brand still has a lot of premium cachet. The utilitarian fact that MacOS is the most successful desktop UNIX only really matters to developers.
Apple built up a lot of positive brand credibility over the second Jobs era. That credibility is eroding now, but that kind of erosion takes time to show up in sales figures. All that banked-up credibility can drive sales for a long time until it's completely drawn down. But operating that way is like living off the money in your 401(k) -- it lets you pretend nothing's wrong until the moment the balance hits zero, at which point everything goes wrong all at once.
Techies are more exposed to the details of hardware than normal people are, so Apple should be looking at their complaints as the leading edge of tomorrow's problems rather than as an outlier. Back when Apple couldn't sell computers to save their lives, the techies were the first to notice their products had improved enough to be worth recommending. Now everyone wants to buy their products, but the techies are the first to notice that maybe they shouldn't.
Like the brand keeps its aura of quality longer than the quality as been maintained? That would just be a phase shift between the reality and perception.
That's a phenomenon that actually exists, and is deliberately exploited by private equity. A stark example is newspapers: there's a company that's aggressively buying them up, and once they acquire one they slash the newsroom staff to drastically cut costs. That results in a much inferior product, but it takes time for their customers to realize and even longer for them to cancel their subscriptions en masse. In the meantime they collect greater profits as they kill the business.
The fact that lots of customers buy a thing does not necessarily mean that thing is presently a good product that serves their needs.
That's been the norm for the newspaper business since at least the 1970s. The current company you are probably thinking of doing that is Digital First Media, which has mostly been getting attention for it's unsolicited bid for Gannett, a company that was well know for doing the same thing during the 1970s-1990s (and was recently considered a threat for doing that again with it's—ultimately abandoned—bid to take over Tribune Publishing.)
Apple of all companies has never been about mass volume, but instead higher revenue and profit per unit. It’s the same with iPhone compared to Android.
I’d much rather own a company with 1000 units sold at 10mil revenue over 100,000 units with the same revenue.
HP is doing very well compared to mfgs named after a fruit. That is accurate.
I'll double down though. The Dell developer editions are far superior than any MacBook
What I feel is a stronger and more measurable critique is that the quality of Apple has gone down (i.e. I might be wrong, but there are numbers to decide).
It would be strange to see U2, U2 Country, U2 Jazz. Apple in this example is probably better compared to a music label than a single rock band.
Oh good gawd, please, please, please, don't let Bono see that as a suggestion
I worked in electronics OEMs since 2007, and I tell you that such things are way more widespread than you think.
When Amazon was making its first forays into electronics in 2007 with Kindle, the agent who was working for them was squeezing my first employer very, very hard. We were one of companies in the chain for sourcing accessories.
They were literally asking us to shave single microns from plastic parts, and deliberately guiding us into using underrated components. The phrase "planned obsolescence" was never said out loud, but it was 100% clear that they wanted it.
As somebody in engineering, I can add that even cheapest Chinese mechanical sliprings have no problems at all transporting the EDP signal.
One of the most "egregious" omissions was either a floppy or an Iomega Zip drive. But a few short years later USB thumb drives became ubiquitous.
USB-C is the future, we're already seeing a plethora of displays launching with them, and they obviate the need for another power supply. Yes, right at this moment it's a bit of a pain (not massively though, I have a dock at work and plug a single cable in and my dual monitors, keyboard and mouse just start working - with my 2015 MBP I had lots of ports, but had to plug and unplug 3 cables each time I wanted to move my laptop).
I'd argue that maybe they went a couple of years too early, but they saw what the next big thing would be and jumped.
Apple is one of the few companies that can act as a market maker, bringing tons of consumers with money over to a new technology. The strategy was sound, and worked in the past (see iMac's USB in 1997, iPod connector, and lightning connector), though I think USB-C proved a bit too complex for many peripheral manufacturers to put out good products right away. These days though there's a ton of great USB-C peripherals out there.
Before the iPhone, traditional cell phones already had smaller headphone jacks: a 2.5mm one was pretty standard. One of the innovative things the iPhone did was replace the smaller port with a standard 3.5mm jack, which allowed people to use regular (potentially high-quality) 3.5mm headphones with it, rather than a crappy 2.5mm headset. The decision eliminated pointless proprietary-ness to integrate with a more vibrant ecosystem.
Job's decision on the iMac to embrace USB and drop the Mac's proprietary ports could be seen in a similar light.
I wish those kinds of decisions were the ones present-day Apple decided to cargo-cult.
Whenever a USB port is involved, it's usually smashed and requires soldering to fix. Given that most modern phones have AMOLED screens, and those cost 200$+ just for our store to buy the part, and that many phones require you to remove the screen to get to the charging port.... Well you see where this is going.
The explanation that made sense to me mentioned 2 design constraints:
1) the jack surface-mounted to the PCB took up space that conflicted with an edge-to-edge LCD/OLED display. If you've ever disassembled an iPhone, you'll see that removing the home button and extending the backlight assembly to the bottom edge means the headphone jack has to go away.
2) waterproof phone. The traditional jack was always an entry point for water damage.
Apparently, Apple studied millions of phone users and determined that more people wanted waterproof phones with bigger edge-to-edge screens than the headphone jack.
Samsung has no problem making waterproof phones with headphone jacks. I'm not sure why, if you can put a USB/Thunderbolt/whatever jack on a phone and still be waterproof a headphone jack is some an intractable problem.
The explanation (possibly inaccurate) I read was that the waterproof jacks were more expensive. I noticed the new Samsung A8s has copied Apple's decision to remove headphone jack. Sony also removed the headphone jack. There seems to be an unavoidable engineering+cost motivation that causes multiple companies to remove that jack. Is it the edge-to-hedge screen? extra space for the haptic feedback? Better battery life because it doesn't feed the analog circuitry for that 3.5mm jack? I don't know.
Sure, and there are perennial rumors that real soon now that will be reflected on flagships (first the S10, but then that faded, now the rumor is either the Note 10 or S11.)
> There seems to be an unavoidable engineering+cost motivation that multiple companies (including Sony) to remove that jack.
Well, yeah, of course, if nothing else, it takes space that could be used for something else. The Samsung Note 10 rumor centers around trading it for a bigger battery, for instance. Obviously, it's not a trade-off free choice, and what it's traded for may not be the same between different manufacturers that decide to axe it. (The same with SD card slots, which lots of manufacturers have done—even Samsung several flagship generations back, though they reversed.)
I personally think that more headphones should have the threaded 3.5mm jack on which you can adapt either the 1/4" jack or say, a usb-c or lightning adapter. This would effectively make it a permanent addition to your headphones without having to keep track of a separate dongle.
I was looking for one because one of our cars has no bluetooth, and the other has bluetooth that won't talk to any recent iPhone, and my iphone 5S is getting flaky. Wish I hadn't missed the SE over the weekend.
We're good enough. We don't need to go thinner. Similar to
battery life. After 10-12 hours, there's no point in it, except for a small few.
However, the 10-12 hours of battery life is kind of misleading. To get that, you have to be doing the absolute minimum on the laptop. Doing anything graphics related requiring the GPU to kick in means your not going to get anywhere near that time.
This isn't a decision you get to make. I want thinner, lighter. Always. Most people do.
Still I'd love that port to be there, event if I used if only couple of times a year.
It's almost as if they should've kept USB-A connector but improved the interface for future...
They have decided that form over function is the way to go. I was considering purchasing a Macbook - not any more!
The MacBook line is going through a dark age right now, where seemingly people who design them are not the same people that use them. My personal suspicion is that Jony Ive (whom I do not consider to be a "Pro" mac user) became too powerful and people can't oppose his taste and his decisions.
The worst thing about all of this is that Apple is (still) so far ahead of everybody else. I really, really wish there was a viable competitor. The problem is that with the lead that Apple has with MacOS and iOS and with the ridiculous amounts of money that they have it will be very difficult to catch up.
That might be true, at least for some subset of MacBook Pro users, but it is also possible to have a slightly more optimistic view. Instead of being in a 'dark age' you could also see the current models as 'transitional', in the sense that the long-term goal is to have a MBP that is very powerful and thin and caters to all target audiences.
Look at the very first MacBook Air for example, that was a pretty shitty laptop in almost every way, except for thinness. In fact, I don't think it improved on earlier Apple laptops in any other way. And it was ridiculously expensive to boot. But it did set a precedent: in terms of size, Apple laptops would from that point on be measured against the MBA, and technology just had to catch up, eventually resulting in the later MBA's. Which I actually think are one of the best laptop series Apple ever made.
I don't disagree that for some people the current MBP line-up is a regression, even though I absolutely love mine and have no problems with it except its cost. And I consider myself relatively far towards the power-user demographic, using my laptop primarily for development and heavy compute loads. But my feeling is that the MBP we will see one or two generations from now will be much better and thin, and everyone will have forgotten about USB-A ports and keyboard design flaws.
You can do a lot with good design, but it's asking too much of Apple's engineers to break the laws of thermodynamics.
The premise is that at some point the components you can fit in a thin and light laptop, are powerful enough for any use case people realistically expect to be able to use a laptop for. Obviously you can still make something even more powerful, but the people who care about these things are very likely to go for a workstation anyway.
It has always been like this, but now it looks like we are almost at the point where CPU's and GPU's are becoming power-efficient enough that the law of diminishing returns says you actually can cram enough power in a thin and light laptop like the MBP to satisfy just about anyone who wouldn't get a desktop workstation anyway.
Case in point: just have a look at gaming laptops. While you can still get ridiculous monstrosities that weigh 12 kg and run less than one hour on a single charge under load, the trend is thinner and lighter for this category as well.
That's right on the nose. The tradeoff is portability. You sacrifice performance to make it easier to carry around. Sometimes people are ok with something that's harder to transport to have more power.
If this were possible, Apple with their resources would have already created this super-laptop and there would be only one product in their lineup.
It's not really portable, but if you're a Pro, and need all those ports, chances are that you work at a desk and don't actually need a portable Mac.
It's a shame that the MBP line went backwards in terms of functionality. If I wanted a gimped MBP I'd get an Air.
Is it osx only that makes you say this? I've seen hackintoshes in the past, would that be viable?
And please believe me that I did my homework before saying "no viable competitors". I regularly use Linux, Mac OS and Windows. It's not even close. I mean, seriously, Linux doesn't even have a sane concept of a system-wide clipboard. So in the end, hardware itself doesn't matter much, unless you mostly stare at it. If you want to use it to get work done, what matters is the entire package: hardware, OS, application software, companion devices.
And, conversely, you only need to scan the comments here to see some about how they had to deal with OS issues on Macs.
Just because millions of people might live in abject poverty doesn’t mean that I should aspire to doing so.
Instead the MacBook Pro is essentially "the laptop with a larger screen".
Serious question: what hardware are you using that requires dongles? I spent about $30 replacing the cables on all my devices with USB-C. I have never used a dongle. Is there pro hardware out there with USB-A cable permanently attached?
I understand that not everyone wants to re-buy all their gear, but this a really cheap change for anyone who is already shelling out $2000 or more for a pro-level laptop. We are almost 3 years into the USB-C-only MacBook era, prices have dropped significantly on those peripherals.
Thinness is amazing. If your laptop sits on your desk all day long, then of course it's irrelevant. But if you're using your laptop for its portability, taking it to multiple spots all day long (classes, conference rooms, buildings, across town), then thinness and lightness becomes an absolute top priority.
I've been using laptops for 20 years. I wouldn't go backwards ever. They've just gotten better and better.
I think most of HN is possibly just not the target market here.
I'm not a hardware expert who's qualified to judge the actual tradeoffs Apple's making and the actual failure rates, but the big picture seems to be clearly that they're managing both thinness and longevity quite well, despite whatever isolated cases of failures there may be.
Apple certainly isn't perfect, but I've had more hardware problems with "non-thin" laptops by other brands than I have with thin laptops by Apple.
We've reached incredibly thin and light tech, but there's a point where making it thinner vastly reduces usability and reliability without really producing any worthwhile benefits. And I hate the "not the target market" excuse. I hear that all the time, and it always seems like such a cop-out. Is there a demographic for broken displays and keyboards which apple desperately needs to pander to? What about professionals and power users? It's a Macbook Pro, after all. This should be exactly the target market. I think most pro users would rather have that millimeter back to make the keyboard and display work, it didn't make it bulky by any means. It was still incredibly svelte and light and thin.
It also has 2 full size USB ports + 2 USB C + headphone + a card reader.
The laptop is more expensive than a mac book air but it's more an example that you don't have to sacrifice ports for weight.
I'm wedded to MacOS, but am in the process of hackintoshing a refurbished X1 Carbon. There are still a few issues but it feels so much more user friendly than the current model MacBooks.
devices are generally thin enough, so the tradeoff in my mind is between weight and battery life. i'd love true all-day battery life--not the 10-minutes-for-email-20-minutes-of-web-surfing type of "all-day" battery life--where i could have the device on for 8-12 hours doing real work. at the same time i'd love a laptop that weighs a pound and a phone that weighs 2 ounces, with lightning fast processors, huge, bright, high resolution screens, and honkin' graphics power. most folks would easily accept 30%, or even 50%, thicker devices for that.
obviously, that would require like 5X the battery and 3X the weight (made-up numbers). apple knows this already, but the technology just isn't there, so we're where we are with their best compromise. and they're trying to make this better for idevices by switching to wireless power, with the idea being that any time you put down your idevice, you'll be charging it.
Are you going to be writing about the refurb anywhere?
with price competition, you go for cheap components, processes, marketing and distribution. when you compete on difference, you not only need new and unique qualities to market but a sustainable advantage.
one part of this advantage for apple is on the design and manufacturing side. apple maintains leads in these areas by being on the leading edge of what the technology can do (their products are never on the bleeding edge because their customers also demand quality and reliabilty). the other part is supply chain; not just the ability to source parts and get the best pricing, but the ability to create a cascade of innovation where components and design permeate the whole ecosystem (this lets them fully amortize fixed costs like r&d and manufacturing costs).
this is why apple captures the majority of profits in the markets it competes in. thinness is an attribute of that advantage.
It seems they're butting up against the limit of what they are capable of reliably manufacturing, which certainly won't end well. I'm looking forward to seeing what direction they take for the next Macbook Pro, should be interesting.
Second, all these damn "flexgate", "signalgate", whatever, won't even make the radar of a person who doesn't follow tech blogs. Even if they do get this problem (which, let's be clear, won't happen to the majority of people), they'll go to the Apple store, where a human being can diagnose the problem and fix it. Name another laptop company that can do that. The only case where it truly can hurt Apple's bottom line is if the store can't fix the problem. And even in that case, this person won't exactly take to the streets against Apple. They'll probably just grumble and buy a different computer. I guarantee there's some internal model at Apple that shows that the projected losses from "flexgate" is a lot less than the projected revenue from a thinner form.
Finally, there's something to be said about thinness. Even one or two models back, I had to think about taking my laptop with me. If I wanted a laptop that I could carry everywhere, I'd have to consider a Macbook Air, which would be less powerful, have less space, blah blah blah. Now, I can pretty much slip my Macbook Pro into my bag because it's so damn light. I can palm my laptop and walk with it through an office. I can hold it under my arm like a magazine. Sure, there's some issues, especially if you're an actual professional. But it's been pretty obvious for the past few years that the "Pro" in MBP is a very loose term.
I think for me the thinness should take a back seat to design issues like this monitor cable thing. But everyone talking about just making the iPhone a little thicker and adding lots of battery life need to realize their use patterns are probably out on the edge of the curve. My iPhones have rarely lasted less than a day of use. And if you aren’t going to get like a week or a month then what good is a little more battery?
Maybe it's you and I who's out on the edge of the curve?
I also usually get a whole day of battery out of my iPhone without difficulty, but I know many people who don't, none of whom fit the HN-dwelling power-user stereotype. Also, any time I do things outside my usual routine, my battery takes a pummelling too — be it because I'm out and about on my own for longer than usual and all the spare battery goes towards Spotify, or I'm somewhere I don't know, and it's Google Maps/GPS that eats it up, there's many ways in which that "always lasts me the whole day" thing can go out the window.
> And if you aren’t going to get like a week or a month then what good is a little more battery?
Battery that lasts a whole weekend if, say, you miss the last train and need to stay somewhere overnight would be quite useful. Or, as above, battery that lasts the whole day for more intensive use.
Their new battery case is a perfect way to deal with that nice to have capacity. I don’t need it, already have an Anker battery for long days (e.g. on airplanes) but if your friends need it there’s a solution that doesn’t mean many users (I’m guessing Apple knows that it is most, but I don’t know that for sure) don’t have to carry it around every day and never use it.
That said, I agree on the laptops.
Apple makes their devices as thin as possible to meet within their design specs; they don't sacrifice their design for thinness. Thats different from Apple not accounting for any one person's needs/desires as part of their design.
I'll give keyboards as an example, since people are notorious for saying that apple put a "lousy" keyboard in all their modern laptops solely for thinness.
I'm sure there are a few people who would love a modern laptop that used Cherry MX switches in its keyboard, but that's not a demographic Apple is going to leap up and target.
From Apple's product page, describing the third generation butterfly keyboard in the MacBook Pro:
"The MacBook Pro keyboard features a butterfly mechanism — providing four times more key stability than a traditional scissor mechanism, along with greater comfort. The 13- and 15‑inch MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar now feature a keyboard with a quieter typing experience."
Note that the description does not mention thinness at all as a "primary" design goal - it mentions greater comfort, improved stability, and the newer model being quieter.
Was reducing keyboard depth part of the design goals for what became the butterfly keyboard? Of course! But I guarantee Apple's philosophy for the project was not "thinness at all costs" - the keyboard would not be released until they felt it was a better overall experience as well.
Now does everyone feel it is a better overall experience? Obviously not. I personally suspect Apple launched the keyboard originally on the Retina MacBook partially to gauge reaction, then was surprised at how much more negative the reaction was once it was added to the Pro line.
To me, a "me too" post by someone accusing Apple executives for purposely sacrificing quality for thinness is not something that encourages communication - it just encourages more ranting. A post talking about say, whether the keyboard issues that people have with the new design are related more around just the change compared to previous keyboard technology, or if it is an impact of say key travel distance, the force curve or key bounce, would be a really interesting discussion to participate in.
I buy Thinkpads because they are more utilitarian. But we cannot ignore that Apple's entire M.O. has always been making the thinnest/most attractive devices money can buy.
I'll just keep voting with my wallet until Apple releases a utilitarian machine again. The recent Mac Mini is the closest we've seen.
I'm not sure it's recommended to be resting your wrists on the laptop at all. You're going to injure yourself like that. Every recommendation I've ever seen is to have your wrists in the air so that they're straight and level.
I already have issues with repetitive stress pain when I use a laptop too long. I mainly try to avoid the laptop when at all possible and just use my 8+ year old desktop instead for all work things.
As a plus, it has drastically cut down on the amount of "bonus" work I do at home in the evenings. When the choice is getting a little more work done vs not having tendons that hurt to move for the next 3 days, I'll take the lack of pain every time :)
My physio told me it was incredibly unhealthy to sit in the same position for more than 40 minutes at a time. (His exact words were "I'd tell you to move every 20 minutes but I know what you programmers are like")
Laptops are a similar concept, but they are raised up enough that my normal typing posture doesn't work that well. With my Inspiron that I have at home, the base of the laptop is thin enough and angled decently that it works out fairly well.
The Thinkpad has a base that is almost an inch thick, and my hand is just the perfect size that the hard edge I referenced is exactly where my wrist bends, which is I think what makes things so uncomfortable when using it.
Only being slightly facetious. What's going to happen to me if I don't mend my ways?
Then again people say "Apple is a design company" in air quotes.
But, it's not impossible for a thicker device to look aesthetically pleasing. To choose a random example, I've always loved Nokia's Lumia line of phones, which were quite thick but had these lovely rounded edges that made it seem natural.
The lesson is, if you don't want something to be the focus of everyone's attention, don't go around repeating it over and over again. Apple has the power to ignore you precisely because you're effectively parroting their brand identity, even if only to criticize it. Propaganda 102.
It goes further than that. Apple products are status symbols and owners of Apple products are seen as more sexually attractive.
I own a TRS-80 Model 100 "laptop" - it came with a "sleeve" you could put it in. It fits perfectly inside a briefcase or backpack.
It runs for days on a set of AA batteries...
Well, they have been making iPhones thicker. Apple's obsession with thinness apparently isn't as obsessive as purported.
Of course there's a design tradeoff: how thick to make it and what to use the available space for. We can argue about specific tradeoff decisions all day, but we can't argue that the decisions have to be made -- and whatever the decisions are, they won't satisfy everyone.
Anyway, if you want to trade thickness for battery capacity, you can get a battery case.
The most obvious subtraction to preserve device size and simplify internals to allow for other features was the headphone jack. Thus the "courage" remark - the teams (all the way up to the executives) were willing to have a device change that may people would be upset about because they felt it was the right tradeoff to make long-term.
I'm pretty sure if they thought it would affect reliability in a meaningful way, they wouldn't have taken this approach. Since Apple has obligations to repair devices, such an "obsession" with thinness would trump their obsession with profit margins.
My favorite is when they wanted thinness so badly, they sacrificed the "bulky" hermetically sealed crystals in favor of super thin non-sealed oscillators of some type. As a result, iPhones would stop working in the presence of helium atoms (such as at hospitals where liquid helium sometimes escapes), but not Android phones (which used the "bulky" hermetically sealed crystal oscillators)
I don't see the thinnes as a problem, i'm more curious on how this was not detected in there endurance tests. Can't imagine at all that there are not 100 macbook pros open and closing all day long somewhere.
We engineers will work on the same thing over and over until we're told to work on something different. The last input the Apple mechanical, etc, engineers were given was "Make it thinner." There has been no change in direction, no new instructions, so they continue to work on the same request.
Even then, with the 2 inch thick laptops, there were making them as thin as they could. The tech wasn't there to make it any thinner, or they would have.
Ironically there are quite a few PC laptops that are thinner. With better keyboards, and useful ports.
They compromised everything for this aspect of the design.
Apple is in a position of power here, due to the public. Fact is, however you cut it, slice it, or dice it, people (in the whole) are stupid and will keep buying Apple for the foreseeable future, despite Apple's efforts at reducing reliability to maximise profits.
They know people will just keep on buying, and I would favour a guess that anyone in their position would be doing exactly what they are.
They will "milk the teet until it stops giving", and then change.
Are people "stupid" or are the alternatives even worse? Broken LCD cabling is not great, but you can take it into an Apple Store and they'll fix it or swap out your laptop. Never had a problem with it.
But I recently bought a non-Apple laptop for the first time in a decade, and it's been a disaster. Spent $1,500+ on a Lenovo X1 Carbon. The LTE has never worked reliably. The screen just developed either a patch of dead pixels, or somehow some dust got under the glass. Neither has ever happened to me on an Apple product. And even when it works, it's just "meh." Windows is surprisingly slow on what should be a very fast processor (i7-8650U). The trackpad is just okay. Battery life is just okay.
My wife just tried to replace her aging Retina Macbook Pro 2012. After trying a couple of Surface machines at the Microsoft Store, and my Thinkpad, she's decided to wait to see what Apple does in October.
From the article:
> Apple designed the cables as part of the display, so they cannot be replaced. This means that when (not if) those cables start to fail, the entire display unit needs to be replaced, as opposed to one or two little cables—effectively turning a $6 problem into a $600 disaster.
> A few determined folks have managed to get their local Genius Bar to replace their screen on Apple’s dime, but for now it seems that for every person who succeeds, many more are rejected—or simply end up paying for a new screen out of pocket without realizing how widespread the issue is.
> There are also multiple people who claim to have started threads on Apple’s support site only to have them deleted.
No, people are not "stupid". Why should they have to be paying for this? Apple is regularly, repeatedly shown to have to be threatened with lawsuits to deal with their design flaws. And in many of those cases, they offer replacement of flawed components - with the same flawed components, which will fail again, and again (except you'll get unlucky and their 'window' will close, and you're just SOL).
“If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it's worth — and get busy on the next great thing.” — Steve Jobs, in 1996.
This is more a psychology thing. It's why people like Trump get voted in. A weird example perhaps, but trump is 'simple', straightforward and 'predictable'. If he hates something, he will hate it with confidence and you can predict already how things will play out, when he's interviewed about it. This create "knowingness", and people might want a good leader, most of all, they want a leader that's consistent , good or bad, as long as it can be placed on the backburner in your mind.
You see this in many places where emotions are a factor. A mother mourning a missing child, eventually just "Want to know what happened". They likely will (partially) heal from the sadness of loss, but 'not knowing' will keep people awake indefinitely.
Probably. I mean why else would they have done it?
> But the bigger problem is that, in an apparent effort to make the display as thin as possible, Apple designed the cables as part of the display, so they cannot be replaced. This means that when (not if) those cables start to fail, the entire display unit needs to be replaced, as opposed to one or two little cables—effectively turning a $6 problem into a $600 disaster.
This is beyond crazy. How much more space would it take up to make the ribbon cables replaceable?
I think there was a good movement to at least try and make laptops thinner, somewhere around the late 00s. There's a point between 4cm and 2.5cm that really made sense to me, in order to make laptops more portable (their main feature). But then, it got ridiculous. They shaved off a millimeter every year and at one point, it started to negatively affect the products. You could probably heighten the battery life quite a bit by adding 2 or 3 millimeters of thickness, you would prevent the keyboard rubbing onto the display (see "staingate"), and now this shit about cables being so goddamn thin they literally break.
This is their "Pro" line, as in "professional". I use my MacBook Pro professionally. I could not care less about whatever millimeter they shaved off the thing at the cost of making it more brittle. Sturdiness is a very "professional" quality and it looks like it's not in their list of priorities anymore. Meanwhile, MacBook Pro prices reach the $3000 mark.
It seems obvious enough to me for Apple to realize they've fucked up. Just like their last iOS update – oh wonder! – focused on speed rather than gimmicks, I hope their next MacBook hardware update will re-discover sturdiness as a selling point.
My largest complaint with laptops is their performance just cannot match that of a low end desktop, and you're certainly not helping your customers by releasing a machine that (let's face it) is designed to not run at its fullest potential. It's the equivalent of buying a v8, but after you get past 35mph a couple of the cylinders shut off.
The reality is that the thermal output differs by well over an order of magnitude depending on what you are doing.
When a complicated task comes along, the system may:
1. spike to full CPU usage at max power usage (possibly higher than rated TDP)
2. if the work continues, get temporarily throttled while the cooling system catches up
3. settle on a "steady state" thermal performance
Since the design of the cooling system is different on a case-by-case basis, the thermal properties are now customizable by the laptop manufacturer to match their system.
This can cause issues with certain "stress test" benchmarks which do not take into account the more complex nature of both modern CPUs and cooling solutions. The performance curve from start to stop of a CPU load task no longer looks like a square wave.
I assume you were referring to the 2018 MBP with i9 chip (which I own). Initially there was an issue because the thermal and power profile that the machine shipped were not appropriate (and actually in some cases made the i9 machine perform inferior to an i7).
They fixed this with a later software update, which AFAIK resolved people's issues. I didn't purchase my machine until after the software update was released, so I never saw the original behavior.
...instead of consistently asking suppliers for 1-3% wholesale discount per year, Apple is asking engineers for 0.3mm-1mm thinness reduction per year.
Service cost would deter their credibility.
As mentioned in other comments here Apple products may be designed to look "sexy", but from "where do we cut the costs" point of view it is no different from Dell or Lenovo. In fact, from this article it seems like both quality and serviceability of Apple products are definitely worse, and unless the looks and thinness are #1 and #2 considerations in a laptop -- you shouldn't buy Apple.
There was a design fault here, and that happens. I'm sure they'll replace any affected displays free of charge, and roll a fix for the assembly into production in the next couple of weeks. But in general, if you've ever compared a teardown of an Apple product with something from other manufacturers, there is often a pretty clear difference between them. I'm always very impressed (as somebody who only gets to design very low volume, high margin products).
Wonder how products would have been designed if this was a thing globally (or at least in the top 3 biggest markets). Anyone else who thinks "a whole lot more durable and repairable" is a reasonable guess?
Which basically adds a government mandated warranty for goods and services sold to consumers (non-businesses).
The consumer law only guarantees for two years (although I think there is some provision for extra "expected life" of a product, can't remember exactly), and I didn't have Apple Care, so they didn't have to do that.
Recently had a Dell XPS tower die just over a year into owning it. The Dell standard warranty? 1 year.
Haha... I understand how computers work. I've tried just about everything but replacing the RAM, motherboard (would require a new case-- those Dell cases just...anyone who's had one will know— and/or new processor...), and processor and still get perfect diagnostics results. But every time I attempt to boot it, it just freezes on the damned Dell logo...
While I wouldn't have a problem replacing this battery myself with an iFixit kit or reviewed eBay stuff, after some measurements and checking this really had to be a manufacturing issue; so up to Apple to take care of (and they did).
We are one of the countries where people have the most disposable income in the world, so that makes it bearable for those cases where the prices are notably higher.
For example, as a negative externality, the health consequences of managing e-waste are potentially serious. Electronics with shorter useful life might create more e-waste than those with a longer life.
At the same time, a positive externality of less expensive goods is increased demand for other, higher value goods and services - which might allow those managing e-waste to move into other fields of work and create an incentive to increase safety/automation/productivity for the remaining e-waste workers.
I know very little about e-waste and am not qualified to take a position. I am simply saying that it would be incredibly valuable if the people who did take positions explained the full context of how they came to their view, including presenting the best arguments against their position with a clear explanation of why those arguments aren't persuasive.
I find that curious. If you had asked me at any time between 1990 and 2012 if I expected that a laptop would be up to par performance without upgrades after 2 years, I would doubt it, much less 5.
It seems like many manufacturers are stopping updates after 2 years, and with the LIPO battery (whether, a laptop or a phone) there are expected chemical degradations over that time.
In the U.S. having warranty insurance (double the apple 1 year warranty) is a common consumer protection provided by credit cards.
What they are suggesting is that the same laptop would work for 5 years, even if it’s performance was not equivalent to its contemporaries. However, they would continue to be good at receiving email, browsing the web, etc.
This isn’t even that remarkable. Apple used to update their OSes every few years, and their newest OS would run on laptops that ran at least a couple of generations older OSes. IOW, at least 4-6 year old laptops.
This was pretty much the expectation people held.
With top of the line, first of their generation full x86 laptops; 5 years seems unlikely, especially during the web growth periods and Moore's law from 1995-2005 -- to even be able to reliably and securely run web pages.
Don't mistake that for the default state of computing technology. My daily-use laptop is a 2010 MacBook Pro, and it's only started feeling slow in the last couple of years. Even now, it's fine for light web browsing and gaming.
I'd rather have the choice to decide myself if and how much I want to spend for warranty (e.g., AppleCare) than having the government force me to indirectly pay for a warranty that I might not need or want.
Norway tax is 25%. You should compare the net value.
> I'd rather have the choice to decide myself if and how much I want to spend for warranty
True, but the problem is the final price doesn't include the cost of recycling and environmental impact (extremely hard to price it correctly).
What EU should do it to force 5 year warranty for most of the equipment with an option to opt-out to 3 years mandatory warranty.
At least for recycling Apple charges a $5 (for 13") or $6 (for 15") recycling fee when buying a MacBook in California. Not sure about other states.
Once this machine kicks the bucket, I may just buy another of the same one instead of upgrading (if they still sell it by then).
Apple does, and everyone else listens. Even after making fun of apple... Headphone jack and the stupid fucking notch are the best example of companies falling over themselves to be like Apple.
But there's no way I'd buy a new one for myself today.