MacBook Air review

Grabbing a MacBook Air now fetches you faster storage

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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

Update: Apple quickly teased "an update in megahertz" for the MacBook Air, when all thought it was put to pasture last year. Check out our MacBook 2017 news hub for more information as it comes in.

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

With MacBook Pro sales on the up and up, Apple is given little reason to return its attention to the more affordable MacBook Air lineup. But, with the plastic 13-inch MacBook from 2010 now considered obsolete, perhaps Apple now has room to replace it.

According to Bloomberg, there are three new MacBooks expected to make an appearance at WWDC 2017 next month. Among them, a new MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook may be joined by a next-generation MacBook Air amid consistently thriving sales despite being almost entirely neglected by Apple.

In the meantime, watch out for viruses infecting your MacBook Air. That’s right, earlier in the month a Trojan called Dok was discovered via phishing email that could sneak past both first- and third-party virus protection on Macs to spy on your browsing activity. Likewise, video-encoding app Handbrake for Mac was recently inhibited by a similar flaw.

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.