It is currently the worst time to buy a new MacBook laptop directly from Apple.
By MacBook laptop, I'm not just talking about the lightweight and portable MacBook. I'm referring to any model that Apple currently offers on its main website. That includes the early 2015 MacBook, the early 2015 MacBook Pro, the mid-2107 MacBook Pro, and the 2015/2017 MacBook Air.
It's not just a question of age, even though age is a major reason why it's not a good idea to buy some of these laptops. Some of Apple's latest models also have unreliable keyboards, and it's not easy or cheap fix to get it repaired once the warranty runs out.
Check out why it's not a good idea to buy any of the laptops you can buy directly from Apple right now:
Just about everything about Apple's recent crop of 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros is great. The Touch Bar might be a little divisive, but you can buy models without the Touch Bar, or ignore it altogether. And the fact these models only come with USB-C ports is also a little divisive, but Apple isn't likely to add all the ports from older models back onto its upcoming laptops.
The major thing that's getting a lot of negative attention is Apple's new "butterfly"- style keyboard on the newer 2016 and 2017 models. It's a new design that lets Apple make thinner laptops, and it supposedly offers a better typing experience.
But some users – myself included – have reported that certain keys stop becoming responsive. AppleInsider also reported that the 2016 MacBook Pro keyboards with the butterfly-style keyboards were failing twice as often as older models.
In my 2016 MacBook pro, the "G" key became unreliable and would often skip when I pressed it. I brought it to the Apple store to get repaired, and thankfully it was still under warranty. Apple couldn't simply replace the "G" key. It had to replace the entire top portion of my MacBook Pro, including the battery.
Hopefully Apple fixes the keyboard issues in its next MacBook Pros. There's no way of telling if they are, but if you're looking for a new MacBook Pro now, it's worth waiting until Apple comes out with new models to see if Apple resolves the keyboard issues.
You can buy an older 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro from Apple for R18,500, which still has an older-but-reliable keyboard.
The problem with the 2015 model is that it's from 2015. That means it's running on parts that are almost three years old.
Now, that said, the three-year-old components in the 2015 MacBook Pro will work just fine, even in 2018. It won't be as fast or future-proof as the recent models, but it'll handle basic tasks well. But the other problem linked to the older parts is that the 2015 model still costs a whopping R18,500, which is a poor deal for an older computer, especially if you just want to run basic apps like a web browser, or if you plan on using the laptop for several years.
The MacBook Air is Apple's cheapest MacBook laptop for less than R11,000, but it's an old and tired laptop in 2018.
The latest model that was refreshed in 2017 doesn't actually have 2017 parts. It's running on a 5th-generation Intel processor from 2014. To give you an idea, Intel is currently on its eighth generation of processors in 2018. Even for less than R11,000 – Apple's cheapest MacBook computer – the MacBook Air is bad value. It has a lower resolution display that basically looks fuzzy compared to Apple's recent laptops with the company's "Retina" display. The MacBook Air display also has comparatively poor color and contrast compared to the Retina displays on more recent MacBook laptops.
Plus, it's rumoured that Apple will soon release a new MacBook Air sometime in 2018. So, if you're looking for a portable and capable machine like the MacBook Air, it's worth waiting to see if Apple comes out with a newer model with better specs.
Apple's MacBooks are incredibly light and portable, even more so than the MacBook Air. And that extra portability is reflected in its relatively high price tag.
But MacBooks also come with Apple's butterfly-design keyboards and could potentially face the same issues as the butterfly-design keyboards on the recent MacBook Pros. Hopefully, Apple will redesign the butterfly-style keyboard to be more reliable.
For the price and despite their portability, MacBooks are also relatively underpowered and are only suited for basic productivity. They should only really be an option if you highly value their ultimate light weight and portability.
You can still buy Apple's latest MacBook Pros, but you should go into the purchase knowing that several users have reported problems with the new butterfly-style keyboard. You may find that you're one of the lucky ones that don't encounter a problem.
Either way, I'd suggest you look at Apple's refurbished laptops. They come in pristine condition and you can get a few thousand rand knocked off the price of a new laptop.
As for the older 2015 15-inch models, I'd only recommend buying them from Apple's refurbished Mac store, as you can get them at a better price that reflects their older innards than buying them new.
Same thing goes for the MacBook Air: Check out the refurbished Mac store. Better yet, wait until Apple releases a new model.
MacBooks? As I mentioned earlier, you could face similar issues that others faced with Apple's butterfly-style keyboard. MacBooks are also expensive relative to their performance. But if you prize portability over everything else, MacBooks are the Apple laptops of choice. Again, I'd check out the refurbished Mac store to get a little discount.