You’ve probably seen it by now, the new MacBook Pro. More specifically, the notch. It’s hard to miss, and almost everyone has an opinion. Some of those opinions are a little stronger than others, especially if you listen to people who make YouTube videos about tech.
The thing is, I’ve been using the latest MacBook Pro for over a week, and unless I intentionally look at the notch, I don’t see it at all. It’s like it’s not there–or, more specifically–it’s like it belongs there. Really, I think the notch is genius for two reasons.
First, It’s worth saying that the 2021 M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros are the best laptops anyone has ever made. They might actually be the best computers anyone has ever made. They are absolutely the most high-performing Macs that Apple has ever made, and not just because the company realized it had been wrong about laptops for the last half-decade.
Gone is the Touch Bar and back are old favorites like an SD card reader and an HDMI port. I don’t care a lot for the latter, but I’ve used the SD card reader a dozen times in the past week, included twice for this article alone. They also finally updated the webcam to something that doesn’t look like it was made in 2007.
Here’s the thing. I hear a lot of people talking about these MacBook pros as a glass of ice water to someone dying of thirst. They are definitely satisfying in a quench-your-thirst sort of way.
First of all, what Mac user is dying of thirst? Were the latest Macs as good as these? Of course not. Were they ridiculously short on connectivity? Yes. Did they have terrible webcams? Absolutely. Still, they were among the best and most powerful devices you could buy.
A lot of people point to the 2015 MacBook Pro as the best version of the professional Mac laptop. I would agree, but there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that even the latest Intel models were more powerful than those. No one using them is dying of anything as a result.
Still, the notch–the argument goes–is like a splash of vinegar in that glass of ice water. Do you know how often I notice the notch? I don’t. I never think about it, just like I haven’t thought about the notch on my iPhone since the day after I first got an iPhone XR.
It isn’t a thing that makes any noticeable difference in the way you view your device, aside from a few curious quirks that I’m certain Apple will fix in future software updates. I mean, sure, if you stare at it, it does seem a bit inelegant to have a bit of hardware falling down into your display. But, unless you’re on a video meeting, why are you staring at the notch anyway?
On the other hand, the notch has two enormous benefits that make it pure genius.
First, the area under the menu bar, and the notch, is the same 16×10 aspect ratio as before. The difference is that, instead of a large bezel at the top of the display, Apple extended the display upwards, leaving a small cutout in the middle to house the webcam and True Tone sensor. As a result, you get more screen, not less.
That’s a brilliant solution that adds real value to the user by introducing a design element that almost no one will ever notice most of the time anyway. More importantly, the notch is sort of Apple’s thing.
The iPhone is the only flagship smartphone that still has a considerable notch of any kind. Every other manufacturer has moved on to either a hole-punch camera, an under-display gimmick, or a pop-up selfie cam. Those may have an aesthetic appeal to some people, but they aren’t any more functional.
Most people assumed that Apple would eventually eliminate the notch from the iPhone. It did get smaller this year with the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models. But, it appears to be here to stay. In fact, you could argue it’s an important piece of the visual identity of an iPhone. That’s exactly why it’s so brilliant that instead of getting rid of it, Apple took that identity and brought it to the Mac.