At $899, the new MacBook Air isn't just a good deal, it solidifies the laptop's legacy

MacBook Air 2019
(Image credit: Future)

When Apple first debuted the newly redesigned MacBook Air in 2018, I quickly reacted rather strongly to the laptop’s price and specifications. The original MacBook Air, after all, had been the most affordable laptop for years, only to be revived at an inaccessible price.

However, Apple has grown quite aggressive with pricing the 2019 MacBook Air model soon after its release this season, just as it did shortly after launching the original MacBook Air. Not only did Apple bring the standard price down by $100 or £100 in July, now the laptop is available for just $999 to start on the company’s online store.

While we’re at it, Best Buy has been seen repeatedly selling the 2019 MacBook Air for just $899 in the US – essentially where the original MacBook Air was priced in its prime.

What I once thought was an opulent product trying to demand attention from budgeted buyers with the ‘Air’ title (which was so deeply associated with affordability) has, at last, lived up to that legacy of value. If you can find the 2019 MacBook Air for just $899 or similarly priced elsewhere, you’re looking at a fine - dare we say premium - laptop with some luxury features and just enough processing power for basic computing tasks and forms of entertainment.

In short, that price makes the 2019 MacBook Air much, much easier to recommend as an option against similarly-priced Windows 10 laptops. The MacBook Air is well positioned to once again become as accessible of a path into Apple’s computing world as it once was.

Dell XPS 13

The early 2019 Dell XPS 13. (Image credit: Future)

Sizing up the competition

The $999 – or $899, if you’re lucky – MacBook Air comes with the company’s newest True Tone, Retina 13.3-inch display driven by a fanless, dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (CPU) and 8GB of memory (RAM). The laptop comes with 128GB of flash storage, accessed by two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and offers Touch ID biometric login with a fingerprint sensor in the power button. Naturally, the MacBook Air comes in Apple’s iconic and luxurious, all-aluminum chassis design.

First of all, the Dell XPS 13 isn’t even available for as low as the MacBook Air is, at the time of writing, on Dell’s online store. For $1,199 – or $1,055.99 in a current promotion – the XPS starts with a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), 13.3-inch display with 8GB of RAM and a quad-core Intel Core i5 CPU with 256GB of storage. While it has no fingerprint sensor, the laptop does have two Thunderbolt 3 ports in addition to a USB-C port and microSD card reader. The lid of the XPS 13 is a matte aluminum, but the inside is comprised of a rubbery-feeling carbon fiber material. 

Comparing these two laptops is not apples to apples, but if it’s a high resolution display and premium features like fingerprint login that you seek, it’s difficult to beat the MacBook Air here. This was not necessarily the case were you to compare these two laptops at both of their starting points last year.

MacBook Air 2019

That's one helluva laptop for $899 (or £1,011). (Image credit: Future)

MacBook Air: the amazing, (more) affordable Apple laptop again

Apple would be wise to keep this pricing scheme up, as it would put the company in a much more favorable position when looking at it against competing flagship laptops. But, more importantly, it’s just right to have the – in many eyes – inimitable Apple experience priced more accessible to more people.

I appreciate that Apple is trying to do this beyond even price cuts, with a trade-in program for old Apple hardware in which an old Mac computer can get you as much as $1,400 toward a new Mac device. If you have enough old Apple gear in your house – ideally that you don’t use – that’s eligible for trade-in, you could shave a considerable amount off the already-reduced price.

Then, there’s the Apple Card or Apple’s Barclay’s financing options, both of which could help you pay for the MacBook Air purchase over time without interest, so long as you pay off the balance on time monthly and in total within a year’s time.

Finally, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday looming on the horizon, it’s high time for Apple to drive the price of its most affordable laptop today down a bit further. 

I frankly didn’t think we’d see laptops with display resolutions at this density for such a price for another few years. After all, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has been around for years at the very same Retina display resolution and at a much less approachable price for most people.

If you, like me, balked a bit at the initial price of the MacBook Air when it debuted in 2018, but appreciated it as a laptop on its face, Apple has made it a lot easier for you to buy into its arguably robust computing experience. I’ve certainly had one in a few online shopping carts over the last few weeks.

Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.