Apple kills the 12-inch MacBook and upgrades the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air 2019
Image credit: Apple (Image credit: Apple)

Apple has revealed a surprise refresh, updating the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, while giving the latter a price cut – whilst also entirely dropping the 12-inch MacBook from its laptop line-up.

By killing off the 12-inch MacBook, Apple has removed the smallest laptop from its online store, while confirming that it will not be replaced with a new version.

This is quite a turnaround for the little MacBook, as it was originally thought that the 12-inch MacBook would replace the MacBook Air as Apple's thinnest and cheapest MacBook. However, it now looks like the MacBook Air won that particular battle.

The refreshed MacBook Air now has True Tone technology added to the Retina display, which automatically adjusts the color temperature for a more natural and comfortable viewing experience.

The other big move is lowering the price of the entry-level MacBook Air to £1,099 ($1,099, AU$1,699, AED 4,699) – with college students getting the notebook at an even cheaper price, Apple promises.

As for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the entry-level model sticks with the same price tag in this case at £1,299 ($1,299, AU$1,999, AED 5,539), although it will again be available more cheaply for students.

However, that entry-level machine gets a considerable boost with the introduction of an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 quad-core processor (1.4GHz, with boost to 3.9GHz), which Apple claims makes it twice as powerful compared to its predecessor.

The other major changes are the introduction of the Touch Bar and Touch ID, meaning that all the MacBook Pro models now have the Touch Bar (the base offering didn’t before). Plus, the 13-inch MacBook Pro gets the True Tone Retina display and Apple’s T2 security chip, to boot.

It's also been confirmed that both the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro will use same improved keyboard as MacBook Pro 2019. This is good news for anyone who was concerned about buying a MacBook after numerous reports of issues with previous MacBook keyboards.

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch 2019

Apple's refreshed MacBook Pro 13-inch (Image credit: Apple) (Image credit: Apple)

Beats incorporated

Students will also be pleased to hear that the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro will be part of Apple’s Back to School promotion (which begins today), so not only do you get the aforementioned money knocked off, but you also receive a pair of Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones bundled.

So, the MacBook Air definitely just became more tempting for students, and indeed for everyone given that Apple’s asking price has been reduced by £100 or $100 for all-comers. One of our complaints regarding last year’s MacBook Air was the way it considerably bumped up the asking price on the entry-level, and at least the new £1,099 or $1,099 (AU$1,699) price point looks more palatable.

As we mentioned at the outset, if you look on the Apple website now, the only laptops offered are the revamped MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, with the 12-inch MacBook doing a vanishing act.

A recent rumor suggested that Apple would refresh the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro along with the launch of macOS Catalina later this year, but it appears the company couldn’t wait.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).