The new MacBook Pro 2021 has a notch. But why?!

During the ‘Unleashed’ event last Monday, Apple unveiled the new MacBook Pro. It has a striking new design. What immediately catches the eye? The MacBook Pro 2021 notch, or the ‘bite’ at the top of the screen. Why did Apple make this special design choice?

MacBook Pro 2021: Notch for Face ID?

A notch is not new. Apple first introduced the notch on the iPhone X from 2017. There it offers space for various parts: think of a speaker, a microphone, an ambient light sensor and the TrueDepth camera system for Face ID.

Does the new MacBook have Face ID? Unfortunately – and we think that’s a bit of a missed opportunity. With the new MacBook Pro, the notch houses only a fairly simple 1080p FaceTime HD camera. The webcam, for example, for video calls. In addition to Face ID, you should also miss the new iPad feature Midpoint, which keeps the camera always pointed at you during video calls.

Bite off the screen? Think again

Many people find a notch annoying. They experience it as a bite from the screen. But with the MacBook Pro you actually have to think about it: the notch is not a bite out of the screen, the notch creates more screen space. The display on both sides of the notch should be seen as an extra. Thanks to the notch, Apple has been able to keep the edges around the screen extremely thin: about 3.5 mm. That’s a reduction of about sixty percent over the previous-generation MacBook Pro models.

You don’t see the notch all the time

App developers can decide for themselves whether they use the extra screen space next to the notch. For example, they can place menu items there, where the notch splits the menu bar in two. However, there is also a so-called compatibility mode where the space to the left and right of the notch is made completely black. The whole then looks like a black screen border at the top of your Mac, and the notch is completely absorbed in this.

In the Info window of an app, you as a user can choose whether or not you want to use the extra screen space. If you always want to hide the notch in the black bar, that is in principle possible. It is also a while until developers have adapted their apps to the new situation.

Mouse cursor disappears behind notch

Immediately after the announcement of the MacBook Pro 2021 design, questions arose about the mouse cursor. Do you always have to move it around the notch with a subtle bend? Apple designer Linda Dong commented on Twitter:

You don’t have to manually move the mouse around the notch. The mouse moves through the notch, so it disappears from view for a while. This offers another unexpected advantage: you can ‘park’ your mouse here if you don’t want to see it for a while, for example when you’re watching a video.

The new MacBook Pro is currently in pre-sale. It will be in stores on October 26.