I was so focused on the iPhone 3GS and Snow Leopard announcements from this year’s WWDC that I almost missed the gravity of the MacBook Pro announcements.

Apple announced price drops on nearly all of its laptops. The new lineup looks like this:

  MacBook MacBook Pro 13-inch MacBook Pro 15-inch MacBook Pro 17-inch
CPU Core 2 Duo 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo 2.8GHz
GPU NVIDIA GeForce 9400M NVIDIA GeForce 9400M NVIDIA GeForce 9400M NVIDIA GeForce 9400M + 9600M
Memory 2GB DDR2 2GB DDR3 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR3
HDD 160GB 160GB 250GB 500GB
Battery Life Up to 5 hours Up to 7 hours Up to 7 hours Up to 8 hours
Price $999 $1199 $1699 $2499


If you want an all aluminum body, you have to buy a MacBook Pro. There’s only a single MacBook model and it’s the white chassis that’s been around for a while now.

Apple added a 13” MacBook Pro to the lineup to fill in the gap, although it’s not clear to me whether this 13” MacBook Pro uses the same LCD panel as the old 13” aluminum MacBook or a derivative of the 15” MacBook Pro’s panel, which is superior.

Of course there are different models within each one of these categories that you can purchase, but they are irrelevant to the discussion we’re about to have. Look at the battery life row in the table above; Apple is claiming up to 7 hours of battery on the new MacBook Pros. The old specs used to be up to 5 hours.

Apple did some clever work on its own here. Standard lithium ion batteries are made up of cylindrical cells, similar to AA batteries. The problem with these batteries is that they waste a lot of space within a notebook (try cramming a lot of cylinders into a box, you end up with wasted space). This wasted space translates into larger batteries than are necessary, which makes for larger notebooks.

In order to continue to drive laptop thinness down, Apple started experimenting with using custom lithium polymer batteries instead of the industry standard lithium ion parts. Lithium polymer cells aren’t made of cylindrical cells (they’re rectangular), so there’s no wasted space. Not only does this make the batteries more compact, but it also gives you greater capacity since you’re using all available chassis volume for the battery.

Makes sense. Courtesy, Apple.

Apple also found that it was wasting space in the removable enclosure for the batteries as well, so its lithium polymer offerings are no longer user removable. I suspect this part of the equation has more to do with cutting costs than saving space though.

Apple first used this lithium polymer battery technology in its MacBook Air. It gave Apple a very thin battery that allowed it to create the MacBook Air’s sweet form factor. Then came the new 17” MacBook Pro, without a removable battery. Apple claimed that this battery would last for five years before it needed replacing and resulted in up to an 8 hour battery life.

The extended life is supposedly due to an on-battery sensor that communicates with the system's management controller that can dynamically sense the needs of each lithium polymer cell and feed that info back to the charging circuitry. The result is slight variations in charging current designed to optimally charge each and every cell; apparently reducing wasted charge cycles significantly. Apple claims that most cells will hit 80% of their life after 200 - 300 charge cycles, but its special lithium polymer batteries will hit the 80% mark after as many as 1000 charge cycles. Apple claims its unique battery chemistry and microprocessor managed charging (Adaptive Charging) is responsible for these gains but it’s a difficult statement to prove; we’ll have to wait and see what happens after a few years of use.

Lithium Polymer: 46% More Capacity, 0% More Weight
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  • iwodo - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    I was going to Post about how great and cheap the Apple SSD upgrade was. Then i as i digg deeper and find out. The 128Gb SSD is using the old Samsung Controller. Which is very slow compare to Vertex. ( In the range of 100MB/s )
    i would guess the 256GB being much more expensive is because it uses the new Samsung Controller ( as used in OCZ Summit; funny it seems how every one seems to refer to chipset used in OCZ these days. They have done well and make a name out of their SSD products. )

    The reason why it doesn't use other SSD as well as Intel's SSD is simply because of cost. Intel doesn't sell their SSD controller. They only sell it as a whole package.

    Comparing to Samsung, Apple already has a long term contract from Samsung with some of the best price in industry. After all they are the largest Flash memory consumption company. SSD are nothing more then a bunch of Flash Memory Chips and a Controller chip linked together. Apple can already get Flash Memory for discounted price, all they need is to pay the added Samsung's controller price and packaging price.

    I really hope Samsung make a breakthrough in SSD controller. Then I suspect all future Apple computer will be equipped with an SSD. ( Hopefully it will come with SATA 3.0 Spec )

  • sprockkets - Friday, June 12, 2009 - link

    I'm still trying to figure out where this thing gets its air intake and output to if the fan's exhaust goes right into the screen hinge and there are no readily apparent air intake ports on the bottom.
    "For the most part, the 9600M was useless on the MacBook Pro unless you were gaming under Vista or did any heavy 3D accelerated work under OS X."

  • Pirks - Friday, June 12, 2009 - link

    Air intake is through keyboard.

    P.S. I wish you had some notebook repair technician buddies like mine who repaired hundreds of various notebooks of the past decade including Apple ones. You'd post MUCH less dumb BS about Apple then :P
  • sprockkets - Friday, June 12, 2009 - link

    What BS? My coworker and I both repair laptops. The G4 macbook he had to fix is not a good example of a laptop being easy to take apart.

    Are you trying to say that MacBooks are more reliable than the competition? Because most people complain just as much as anyone else about their share of issues, and Apple dismisses them like any other large company. Case in point, the intermittent fan issue.

    And, you didn't answer the question about how the air gets out.

    A simple picture of the back would solve this issue, but no one has a picture of it, not even apple.

    Bottom line: When Apple decides to stop their BS with Windows being a helpless virus ridden victim and instead simply promote what makes a MacBook worth the extra $500, I'll get one.

    LOL like that will ever happen!
  • sprockkets - Sunday, June 14, 2009 - link

    Oh, shit, I didn't look at who I was replying too, no wonder why...
  • Pirks - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Lame winzealot's excuse. You can buy and try any MacBook right here right now and sell it later after a few months if you don't like it. At least THEN you'll stop posting BS about something you only seen in pictures :P BTW new MBP 13" is the perfect choice for that since it's cheap for a Mac Pro-line notebook, only $1199 ;)
  • Pirks - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Nah, screw that, don't buy any Mac stuff, I just recalled another crazy guy whaaasomething who went nutso after buying MBP. I don't want another lunatic like him in here, so forget it. Better post anti-Apple posts like you do now, they are at least bearable.
  • charlienail - Friday, June 12, 2009 - link

    apple and some other manufacturers have been shipping lithium polymer batteries for years!! this is not something new to these laptops. what is new is that they have used the space gained by removing the ability to exchange batteries.

    only a low percentage of laptop owners have a second battery so apple is targeting the much larger majority of people who never make use of the replace battery. this is similar to the new SD slots, if less than 1% of your customers are using the express card slot why not give them something they are much more likely to make use of. (plus windows laptops have had these readers for years)

    i can see how the evolution of apple away from pro needs (replacable battery, anti-glare screen, express card) could be worrying for them but i like the direction they're going because i'm not a pro user and i want cheaper macs. the pros can at least take heart that the amazing 17inch is now only 2500 and still caters to their needs. (who needs a replacable battery when you've got almost a 100 watt hours in the thinnest lightest 17inch available)
  • araczynski - Friday, June 12, 2009 - link

    my favorite part: " If you can hold out until next year you'll be able to get that capacity at half the price."

    i'm sure if you wait until next year you can probably also have the laptop at half price too, so do yourself the double favor and just don't buy the laptop at all :)
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, June 12, 2009 - link

    Question is, do you still get the battery life if you run Windows?

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