Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019) review

No longer a compromise?

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019)
For a compact MacBook Pro that still offers plenty of oomph, get the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2019).
(Image: © Future)

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Here’s how the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench CPU: 680 points Graphics: 57 fps
Geekbench 4 Single-Core: 4,830; Multi-Core: 17,523
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 9 hours and 44 minutes

The MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019) is a very good performer when it comes to most tasks, with day-to-day use of macOS feeling fast and responsive. The updated components help keep the MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019) feeling fresh, and its quad-core processor means you get a much faster and more capable laptop than the MacBook Air (2019), which makes do with a low-powered dual-core Intel Core i5 Y series processor.

Comparing the two, the MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019) is the clear winner when it comes to offering fast performance. However, it still cannot compete with 2019’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, which comes with some of the most recent and powerful components you can find in a laptop, including Intel’s new 6-core and 8-core Core i9 processors and discrete graphics. For pure productivity, especially in intensive tasks such as video editing and graphics rendering, the 15-inch model is the one to get, though of course you’re going to be paying a lot more. If you don’t need that kind of firepower, for example if you’re mainly going to be using the MacBook Pro for coding or word processing, then the 13-inch version should be fine for your needs.

The SSD included in the MacBook Pro 13-inch remains one of the best drives in modern laptops, making macOS and apps load up nice and quick, ditto for transferring data. We did notice that the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2019) did stumble a bit with unzipping large compressed files – taking a bit longer than other laptops at this price range to complete the task.

While benchmarks aren’t the full story, they can give us a good idea of what sort of performance improvements the new model brings. Compared to the 2018 model we tested last year, performance increases are modest, with just the graphical performance getting a noticeable bump.

Apart from that, don’t expect a huge performance leap over the 2018 model.

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019)

Don't expect a huge leap over last year's model (Image credit: Future)

Battery life

Apple claims that the MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019) offers 10 hours of browsing the web wirelessly, with 10 hours of iTunes film playback thanks to its 58.2 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery.  Apple’s tests are with the screen brightness set to 75%.

In our tests, which plays a looped 1080p video at 50% brightness, the MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019) lasted a very decent nine hours and 44 minutes, which isn’t far off Apple’s numbers.

It’s a very good score for a laptop with these kind of powerful components. While there are laptops out there that offer almost double the battery life, they cannot compete with the performance of the MacBook Pro 13-inch. Once again, Apple has found a good balance. It meant in our tests we could go a whole workday without needing to charge the laptop. And when it did need charging, the battery replenished nice and quickly.


As with Apple’s other 2019 refreshes, the MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019) offers only a modest leap over last year’s model. So, it gets slightly updated components and every model now comes with the Touch Bar.

However, the leap isn’t enough to make you want to upgrade your previous MacBook Pro, unless it’s now a good few years old. Apple’s got a fine reputation for building laptops that last, and that makes smaller upgrades like this harder to justify. If this is going to be your first 13-inch MacBook Pro, then you’re going to love it. Sure, it’s expensive, but it does a lot of things right, including having a gorgeous screen, brilliant battery life and a lovely design. Performance is good – though not mind blowing – and if you want a real productivity machine, you might be better off looking at the 15-inch model.

It’s also frustrating that Apple has stuck with the Butterfly switches for this year’s model. Here’s hoping 2020 brings a radically new design that doesn’t forget what made the MacBook Pro a success in the first place.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.