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 MacBook Air is in an odd spot in 2018. While it still rocks the same design it’s had for years, with a 5th-generation Intel Core processor – two generations behind the MacBook and three behind the MacBook Pro – it’s still the most affordable way to get macOS Mojave running on a laptop.

That could all change in the near future. We think that Apple will reveal a MacBook Air 2018 in the very near future to replace this aging model. Whether or not that actually happens, we still think a new MacBook Air will show up by the end of the year – before the Black Friday shopping rush.

Still, the current MacBook Air is still a brilliant choice for anyone to get into macOS without emptying their savings account. Even if it really needs a significant upgrade – most everyday users will love the MacBook Air. 

Price and availability

While the model sent to us was a maxed out MacBook Air with the highest specs you could get at the time of its original writing, it currently comes in a wide range of different configurations.

It still starts at the comparatively humble amount of $999 (£949, AU$1,499), but now you’re looking at a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD space for that price. This means the MacBook Air is still the cheapest way to experience macOS on a laptop.

Should you be interested in stepping the MacBook Air’s game up, you can upgrade the CPU to a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor and a 512GB SSD for a pretty penny more. For that configuration, you’re in for a price tag of $1,549 (£1,384, AU$2,339). 

That’s more than what the MacBook Pro starts out at for a frankly older set of components (the MacBook Air has a 5th-generation Intel Core processor as opposed to the MacBook Pro’s 8th-gen chip). Frankly, compared to most modern laptops, the MacBook Air is woefully out of date, but it may still be worth it for anyone that needs long battery life and a ton of storage.

13-inch MacBook Air (2015)

Design

By and large, the MacBook Air generally looks the same as it has since 2010, and there don’t appear to be any changes in tow, either. That’s a shame, particularly because we’re now seeing virtually bezel-less laptops with smaller footprints and high resolution screens that dismally put the MacBook Air in its place. 

Forget the Dell XPS 13's physics-defying InfinityEdge 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)

Yet, the old ‘if it ain't broke’ mantra applies – at least to a point. The MacBook Air's aluminum 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.

The MacBook Air is also easily cleaned with a damp cloth. If there’s one drawback, it’s that the aluminum body can easily scratch to leave permanent black marks, so you should consider buying a sleeve if you’re going to carry it around with you.

Bill Thomas Gabe Carey have also contributed to this review