As per usual, there is a backstory related to whatever I happen to o be experiencing, so… shall we?
My ex from 2006 gave his 2012 MBA, for the second time, last year. I loved the new macOS Mojave – just a little bit smoother, a little bit slicker, a little more refined – and the MBA keyboard, which is probably the best-feeling keyboard until the 2019 16” MBP, Apple has sold since the BT Magic Keyboard. And I fixed the rattling trackpad with foam tape.
Another ex from 2018 gave me his 2011 MBP in 2019, which I refurbished: new speakers, new battery, new BT-WiFi module, install dual SSDs, repeated thorough cleanings, and RAM upgrade then downgrade as it didn’t need it. He has since patched it to run Mojave but more patches for those patches are wanting for smoother operation.
It was with he whom I swapped both the 2012 MBA and 2011 MBP for his 2015 MBP. Is two Apple laptops worth one? Well, I must say ‘yes’ as I have a key requirement, of course precipitated by iPad: screen resolution.
I have been repairing, upgrading, and building computers since 2009 – Windows, OSX and Ubuntu, so the 2011 MBP was a great deal considering the storage and RAM options. I had that at 1.5TB SSD and 16GB RAM, rather than the 500GB HDD and 4GB RAM with SuperDrive.
Yet, since 2012, and my love-yet-hate-the-non-retina-screen-iPad mini-wtf-iPhone 4-hello-?, I have been aching for a display with which I do not need reading glasses to use. Moving to 4K resolution is quite important to me as I only need glasses for reading.
With iPad mini 4, I began to experience being able to read text without pinching to zoom for the first time. I rarely leave home with reading glasses, and not needing them while in transit – of which I spent sometimes 60% of my work time doing – made my day!
Also, with corona pandemic destroying all my plans for love, money and health, being mobile and functional became my top priority. Thusly, screen resolution became more important than secondary hard drives or multiple devices. Besides – Apple has done an amazing job with Spaces on macOS!
Thusly, I swapped the 2011 MBP and 2012 MBA for a 2015 MBP. Ya not just any MBP from 2015, but THE 2015 MBP I tried to buy at the beginning of 2018, just before my then-bf almost died from a cardio-viral infection.
Just before he vanished from the digital world, I had been rejected by the second-hand shop for having non-existent credit from buying that laptop, so he bought it and gave me his old MBP. After he recovered from his NDE, that is.
Thusly, received in the most indirect way anyone could possibly imagine, the laptop they wanted to buy. And, thusly, let us continue with the premise of this article: what is the 2015 MBP like to use in 2020?
More than one word? I have few technical needs from a computing device: I do not do video editing, although I’m sure the 2015 would cope sufficiently. The speakers do not need replacing, although I do use a cheap USB speaker for superior fidelity. The battery still rates at 90% and lasts 7hrs. What else?
I upgraded the SSD to a Crucial 1TB + adaptor config last year, and I still have about 300GB available. It usually runs silently, and although the keyboard is NOT as good as the 2012 MBA, it is better than the 2011 MBP’s.
For me, however, the best part is the 4K resolution display: just like the iPad – since 2012/3 – and the iPhone 4, I can actually read and see what is on what is on the screen. My long-distance vision is fine, so I can recognise characters even at a distance, but the non-retina 1.3K screen I can’t read unless up-close with glasses.
The iPhone 4 arrived in 2010, so we are talking about pioneering-yet-mainstream technology which is 10 years old, yes, but the point is the eye-to-screen perception ratio, the optimal viewing distance for dots per inch.
However you may wish to calculate it, for me, the non-Retina displays simply are not legible. Even with reading glasses, those displays are not good. Simple as that. Getting the iMax (iPhone 11 Pro Max is too long to type, ya?) exacerbated the chasm in screen resolution and clarity as per viewing distance.
The 2015 MBP has many excellent points: non-USBC ports, upgradeable SSD, Haptic TouchPad, great backlit keys, fast-enough specs, but the best thing for me is the clear display. It can upgrade the OS to Catalina, but the installation stalls at the new APFS file system.
There are many minor and irritating issues with Apple’s Mac, such as auto-mistake, auto-dimming, and the Disk Recovering installation process, which is horribly exacerbated by Apple finally evolving from HFS+. And the keyboard isn’t as nice as the MBA.
Aside from these minor niggles – oh! The battery costs 10 times more if you have Apple do it for you – this 5 year old computer is extremely functional and is still stylish, useful and with Amazon, is very easy to decoratively tailor.
I certainly recommend having a 2015 MacBook Pro!