MacBook Air review

Grabbing a MacBook Air now fetches you faster storage

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Apple's 13-inch MacBook Air now comes with much faster storage, better battery life and slightly improved performance in other areas. On the other hand, its display and design are beyond dated.

For

  • Excellent battery life
  • Nippy storage
  • Keyboard

Against

  • Dated design
  • Display
  • Speakers

The arrival of Apple's 12-inch MacBook earlier last year marked the beginning of the end for its MacBook Air lineup. At least, that's what people said at the time.

The new MacBook is more portable, lighter, has a gorgeous high-resolution display and can go for almost as long as the Air on a single charge. Who would pick a machine stuck in the past over a laptop from the future?

13 inch MacBook Air 2015

As it turns out, the future's not all it's cracked up to be. The new MacBook's inconvenient USB Type-C port, controversial keyboard and moderately powerful Intel Core M chip have proved a compromise too many for some people.

Now that Apple has refreshed its 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air models with Intel's fifth-generation Broadwell processors, Intel HD Graphics 6000 and Thunderbolt 2, they're suddenly looking much more appealing, even if it's business as usual on the outside.

Recent developments

The most recent MacBook Air is two years old at this point, and while Apple hasn’t changed much with its most affordable laptop offering, you can currently snag one for yourself at Best Buy for a mere $799 in the US. That’s $200 under MSRP, so you may want to act now if you want to score a MacBook Air on the cheap.

In other news, the next round of MacBooks may revive the long sought-after MagSafe adapters famously used by the MacBook Air. If a patent filed by Apple itself is to be believed, the company is toying with the idea of a “magnetic adapter,” which could easily translate to USB-C charging cables. 

Lastly, if you were considering buying a laptop from anyone other than Apple, you may want to think again – at least if you want the battery life promises to hold true in real-world applications. That’s because, as consumer watchdog Which has discovered, MacBooks are the only laptops that live up to manufacturer battery life claims, according to their own internal testing.

Design

Speaking of which, the MacBook Air's design has now remained unchanged for five long years. If Apple didn't feel the need to tinker with it before, there's even less chance that it'll change any time soon now that the 12-inch MacBook is out there. Which is a shame, because the Air's classic design could really benefit from slimmer bezels and an overall reduction in footprint.

Forget the Dell XPS 13's physics-defying Infinity Display, which is lightyears ahead – even Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina, once seen as slightly tubby compared to the Air, has a smaller footprint and takes up slightly less space on your lap.

13 inch MacBook Air 2015

Still, the old "if it ain't broke" mantra applies – up to a point. The MacBook Air's aluminium unibody design, which supports the main enclosure and the display, is as durable as ever. Its lid can be easily raised with a single hand and doesn't droop in any position, and you have to press really hard to detect flex on the machine's base or lid.

It's also easy to clean with a damp cloth. If there's one drawback, it's that the aluminium body can scratch easily to leave permanent black marks, so you should consider buying a sleeve if you're going to sling it into a bag for transportation.