My prediction for this lineup was:
Those 2021 models are due for processor upgrades, but don't expect any form factor changes, this is a pure spec bump.
And this is just what happened, which I think is more than fine. The 2021 refresh to the 14 and 16 inch models was fantastic, so there was no pressing need to change anything physical about the device. The notable updates seem to be:
- M2 Pro and Max processors are 10-20% faster than their M1 counterparts at most tasks
- Battery life is slightly better
- HDMI 2.1 (compared to 2.0 last time)
- WiFi gets upgraded to 6E (compared to 6)
- Bluetooth upgrades to 5.3 (compared to 5.0)
- RAM, CPU cores, and GPU cores all max out higher than before
Now this image is something I did want to hit on really quickly:
The 15.9x and 11.6x numbers might rub some people the wrong way, as they're not compared to the M1 processors, but I think this is actually a pretty useful chart. Yes, the bump over the M1 models is not insane, but as people like to tell reviewers all the time, almost no one is upgrading from an M1 Pro to an M2 Pro, and giving real users a better idea for what they get with an upgrade is useful.
In this case, Apple is using a "2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-based 13-inch MacBook Pro", which appears to be the last 13" Intel MacBook Pro before the Apple silicon transition. You can actually still buy this machine refurbished from Apple for around $2,000 as of this today. In my opinion, that's a very reasonable computer to expect someone looking at these new Pros to be upgrading from.
If you are one of those crazy people who buy a new Mac every time Apple releases one, then you still see the comparisons to your M1 Pro/Max as well. If you're coming from an older Mac, well then Apple silicon is going to completely blow away anything you're used to, so just consider the upgrade to be effectively 100x what you're used to.
Anyway, I think it's funny how reviewers get grief when they compare the performance of this year's phone/computer to the last model, and now I see some people upset that Apple's main comparison point isn't last year's model.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm saying it now: an M2 model is released with a new, smaller form factor, and it will also have an M2 Pro configuration.
No change to the form factor, but it did get the M2 and M2 Pro variants I was hoping for. Given I'd expect mini's make up a sliver of Mac sales, and many of those likely go to server/professional buyers who value consistency over a slick form factor, it's not a bad move.
Overall, I think these are very logical updates to each machine, and it's good to see that prices stayed exactly the same for the base models (I have not compared all configs, but I'm sure they can get more expensive if you max everything out).