12-inch MacBook review roundup: Gorgeous, but keyboard, USB-C and lack of ports could be deal breakers

BY Evan Selleck

Published 9 Apr 2015

MacBook The Verge review

At this year’s Spring Forward event, Apple officially unveiled its 12-inch MacBook, with a ridiculously small profile, contoured batteries, and a Retina Display.

The new MacBook has quite a bit going for it, with a brand new keyboard, a new Force Touch trackpad (that’s also available in the newest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display), contoured batteries to fit the ridiculously thin design, and a Retina display. At the same time, plenty of sacrifices were made in the new machine, too, including a single USB-C port, a mediocre camera, and a lack of ports.

Now, the new MacBook has been reviewed by several different publications, and this is what they had to say about Apple’s newest portable:

    The Verge

    But let’s stick with the inventions for now, because they truly are remarkable. It starts with the keyboard, which is shallower than what you might be used to. Underneath each key is a butterfly mechanism, a “steel dome” that registers your keystrokes, and an individual backlight for every single key.

    At first, I hated it. It felt weird to have each button move so little when I pressed down on it. But it didn’t take long at all for me to change my mind. The combination of all those new parts meant that the essential friction and “clack” that make up any great keyboard is still here, just different than what I was used to. I can bang away on this thing or type more softly, and both feel completely satisfying. The only real hassles are the redesigned up and down arrow keys: they’re entirely too small.“


    To spare you the suspense, I can say that the new MacBook performs much better than any other Core M system we’ve tested to date, hitting 11 hours in our video playback test. That’s not nearly as much as you’d get from a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro — and it puts this system at a disadvantage compared to the longest-lasting laptops — but battery life is definitely not the deal-breaker it could have been.


    If money is no issue for you, you want a significantly smaller laptop, and you don’t mind being limited by a lack of ports, then maybe upgrading to the new MacBook makes sense for you.

    But if you rely on USB ports and SD card slots, this MacBook’s single port for charging, storage transfers and other functionality will really bug you.

    In a few years, we may look back on this laptop’s missing USB ports like we look back on the original MacBook Air’s absent Ethernet port or missing optical disk drive (here’s that 2008 review by Walt Mossberg), thinking, “Who needed that?” We’re just not quite there yet.“


    Apple had to redesign the MacBook’s keyboard, just like they did the trackpad, in order to make that incredibly shallow case. They did so by replacing the traditional scissor-based keyboard switches with a new butterfly mechanism, which saves 40 percent thickness per key. That means that you get less travel with each press, but Apple also points out that there’s greater stability across the key, meaning keys don’t ‘lean’ to whatever corner you’re exerting the most pressure on which each keystroke.

    As with the Force Touch trackpad, the new keyboard takes some time to get accustomed to. The travel is quite a bit shallower than it has been even on MacBooks past. And while I’d say that the adjustment period required to get comfortable typing on the new MacBook’s keyboard is longer than the one required to get used to the new trackpad, I still found that it was very quickly a non-issue.“


    I have to say, I’m going to miss MagSafe. I can pick up my MacBook Air and push off the power connector in one quick motion, but with the MacBook I have to grab the laptop with one hand and then pull the cord out with the other hand. It’s the tiniest of inconveniences, to be sure, but it’s a regression nonetheless. And yes, if someone trips over the power cable, the MacBook will go flying.

    The MagSafe connector included a small LED that lit up to indicate that it was attached and charging. That’s gone, but in a nice touch, when you insert the USB-C cable into the MacBook (or plug the already-inserted cable into the wall), the MacBook sounds an iOS-style chime to let you know it’s charging. There’s no visual indication, however.“

Much like with the Apple Watch, which recently saw its own slate of reviews published, the MacBook is just like any other piece of technology out there insofar that it is perfect for some, and not a device that others should even remotely consider. Personal need and individual situations will dictate whether or not the new MacBook is a purchase worth making.

Are you planning on making that purchase? The 12-inch MacBook goes on sale Friday, April 10 starting at $1,299.