The 16-inch MacBook Pro is probably the best laptop money can buy right now(if you are not into gaming). With the new keyboard design and better thermal solution, one could assume that Apple is finally listening to its customers, and the coming MacBooks will only be better. It is no longer the only reliable product from Apple (RIP butterfly keyboard) as the company has quietly updated the MacBook Air laptops. In a soft reveal two days ago, Apple updated the MacBook Air site, and we got a better laptop with less price. The new laptop comes with a better keyboard, faster processor, and better storage capacity. More importantly, it only starts at $999. There is an Apple laptop that does not cost four figures. (What a time to be alive).
Earlier this month, Apple had to cancel its March event due to the Corona Virus pandemic. Rumors were focusing on the iPad only reveal while there was little to no news regarding the release of a new MacBook Air. So, the reveal is a kind of a surprise for the consumers who want the goods of the MacOS but at an affordable price.
Design & Display
Design & display is one of those aspects of Apple products where the company has no compromises. Many of Apple’s products, especially the MacBook Pro laptops, have suffered dues to this behavior. The sleek and slim design and the quiet profile make the laptop more luxurious, but it hinders its primary purpose, which is productivity. However, it has changed since the reveal of the new MacBook Pro. Apple reimagined its cooling solution while maintaining the sleek design.
The same is the case with the new MacBook Air. It retains its lightweight design as it is built with 100% recycled aluminum making it the most environment-friendly laptop. It only weighs 1.29Kg. If we look at the dimensions, the laptop is only 0.16 inches thick, thus maintaining the thin and light characteristics. Other than that, the design remains the same as its predecessor, as it requires less cooling.
The MacBook Air has a 13.3-inch true tone display Retina display. Apple retains the display parity between its different devices, and hence we are getting an industry-leading display in a budget device. The native resolution is 2560 x 1600, which means the display is quite sharp, with 227 pixels per inch. It supports the Truetone technology, which means you will get the best color gamut at this range. Though the device is not meant for professional work, the Truetone display does make it a good laptop for lightweight video and photo editing.
The MacBook Air laptops have traditionally featured low-powered Y-series mobile processors from Intel. These processors tend to have acceptable performance, but they do not require much juice. The new MacBook Air comes with the 10th generation Ice Lake processors from Intel. These range from the dual-core 1.1GHz Core i3 with Turbo boost up to 3.2GHz, and 4MB of L3 cache all the way up to 1.2GHz Quad-core Core i7 with Turbo boost up to 3.8GHz and 8MB of L3 cache. So, you can choose from any of the offerings the quad-core Core i5 processors seem to be the best fit as it is not that costly but has two extra cores over the Core i3.
The most significant update comes to the graphics department as Apple has shifted to Iris Plus graphics from Intel from the Intel HD graphics. It provides an almost 80% performance boost over its predecessor. The thunderbolt ports support the external GPUs as well. Gaming on a macOS may not be a good idea, but you are all covered if you plan on gaming on this laptop.
Apple has also updated its RAM configuration to the new LPDDR4X memory clocked at 3733MHz. The fast memory binds well with the processor to keep the performance of the laptop. You can get either 8GB or 16GB of memory, and it is not upgradeable. In fact, no component in this laptop is upgradeable out of the box.
Lastly, it starts at 256GB of onboard proprietary PCIe SSD and can be configured up to 2TB. The product for educational customers that has been kept aside from the other laptops, however, comes with 128GB of storage.
Keyboard & Trackpad
Apple makes one of the best Trackpads in the market; there is no way around it. The trackpads in the competing windows laptops do not come close to the precision and gestures provided by the trackpads in the MacBooks. The improved trackpad in the MacBook Air takes it further a notch. The tracking area is 20% larger now and has pressure-sensing capabilities. It supports force clicks, accelerators, pressure-sensitive drawing, and multi-touch gestures.
Everyone has praised the new magic keyboard. It ditches the butterfly switches in favor of scissor-switch design, which results in more key travel and as the keys retract as you type like a traditional keyboard. Most importantly, Apple retains the arrow key inverse T arrangement. These subtle changes make a lot of difference, especially for those who need to type a lot like many students.
Battery life & the price
Battery life is one of the critical aspects of any portable device, and MacBook excels on Battery life. First of all, the macOS, as we all know, is highly optimized; it conserves battery whenever necessary. Secondly, the laptop is powered by a low powered processor, which will enhance battery life even further. It comes with a 50 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery. Apple claims that it can last up to 11 hours with wireless browsing. Take this with a grain of salt and expect around 8 hours of average use which is very good on its own too.
As mentioned earlier, MacBook Air is the only laptop from Apple that costs less than a thousand dollars. It has a starting price of $999, $899 for educational customers. Fully upgraded MacBook Air will cost more than two grand, so if you have 2000 dollars investing in a MacBook Pro would be a better idea. Lastly, there will be a 128GB model that may go up for sale at $899. So, buying into the Apple ecosystem is less of a hassle now for most people.
MacBook Air is one of the most compelling products of Apple. With updated specifications and a smaller price tag, there is not much to say about it. If you are in the market for a portable laptop that can do anything that you can throw at it but does not empty your wallet, then MacBook Air should be on your list.