If you’re in the market for a new laptop, you might well be considering a MacBook Pro. And given the hefty price tag on Apple’s laptops, you might also be wondering how long it’s likely to last you. It’s always impossible to say precisely how long a laptop will last, because there are so many variables, but here are a few pointers on how long you can expect a MacBook Pro to last.
If you’re looking to get four, five or more years of use out of a MacBook Pro, you’ll want to know that it’s likely to get the latest version of macOS in those later years. The good news is that Apple tends to be fairly generous with its support.
The current version of macOS (Monterey) supports MacBook Pro devices made in 2015, which is seven years ago.
That doesn’t mean you’ll get all the new features offered by the latest operating system, because some of them require newer hardware. However, it’s encouraging that Apple doesn’t pull up the drawbridge on those older Macs within three or four years.
There is a caveat here. Apple is in the middle of a transition from Intel processors to its own silicon. It’s certainly possible that coming releases of macOS will begin to withdraw support for those older Intel chips, because Apple doesn’t want to keep on supporting two different architectures.
Indeed, there are already signs that Apple is beginning to shorten the lifespan of those Intel Macs. This week Apple announced a new version of macOS, Ventura, and this will only support MacBook Pros going back to 2017, or five years ago.
If you’re buying a MacBook Pro now (whether new or second hand), I’d definitely advise that you go for one using Apple’s own processors rather than Intel’s to maximise its lifespan.
How long will a MacBook Pro battery last?
The battery is obviously a core component of a MacBook Pro. If you need to run the laptop away from the mains, it’s no good to you if the battery keels over in half an hour.
The bad news is that all lithium ion batteries degrade in performance over time. In regular use, you can probably expect a MacBook Pro battery to last three to four years before you start to see serious signs of degradation. The battery simply won’t hold a charge for as long as it used to.
Apple has made recent changes to macOS that might make the batteries last longer. For example, if you’re almost always using the laptop connected to the mains (as I do), the laptop will stop charging when the battery gets to around 80%, which should better preserve the health of the battery.
The downside of using Apple laptops is that they’re sealed units. Although Apple is taking baby steps towards greater repairability, if your MacBook Pro battery does need replacing, you’ll almost certainly need Apple (or an authorised repair centre) to replace the battery, and that won’t be cheap. The latest Apple price list puts the cost of a battery replacement at £199.
Other points to consider
There are a few other things to note when considering how long a MacBook Pro will last you:
- Build quality – Apple hardware is generally very well made. It’s not robust to any military-grade standards, but the cases are all-metal and I’ve never had any concerns shoving one into a laptop bag for a business trip.
- High-end components – The MacBook Pro range generally uses high-quality and reasonably cutting-edge components. The M1 processors should deliver enough power for several years to come. The SSDs are very fast and there’s no need to worry about fragile hard disks failing anymore. The screens are super-high resolution and should look good for the lifespan of the laptop.
- Apple service – Apple service is a double-edged sword because it is expensive. Apple will offer you Apple Care+ to extend your warranty to three years at the point of purchase, but you can expect this to cost a few hundred quid extra. However, knowing that you can take a MacBook Pro into any Apple Store – or have it couriered to the company – for a high-quality repair is reassuring. Plus, Apple Care+ offers repairs for two incidences of accidental damage every year, which is handy for those coffee spills and dropped laptops.
The lifespan of a MacBook Pro
All things considered, it’s reasonable to expect you will get five years of very good service out of a MacBook Pro. I know of several friends and colleagues who’ve got considerably longer.
There’s no guarantee it won’t fail sooner, of course, and I’m sure I’ll get comments (below) from folk who’ve experienced just that. But longevity is one of the best reasons to buy a MacBook Pro, helping to justify the high ticket price.