Apple has brought the MacBook Air back to life today, announcing the first proper refresh of its super thin laptop line in three years during its October hardware event. The MacBook Air, which last year saw a minor graphics and CPU upgrade, has languished since Apple introduced the 12-inch MacBook in 2015. And yet Apple, without a proper budget option, has kept the Air around. As Apple’s only laptop around the $1,000 price point, the Air suffers from a lower-resolution, non-Retina display, and subpar performance.
The new MacBook Air, however, is a proper replacement, in line with rumors first reported by Bloomberg in August. It has a Retina display, 50 percent thinner bezels in a design similar to the standard MacBook, and upgraded components. It has a 13.3-inch screen that stretches to the edge of the enclosure, two USB-C ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also weighs just 2.75 pounds, which is lighter than the previous MacBook Air model that came in at 2.96 pounds.
The new MacBook Air comes with Touch ID for secure login, powered by the same T2 chip in last year’s MacBook Pro and iMac Pro models. But it does not have the Touch Bar, which may please some new Mac buyers who find the MacBook Pro Touch Bar unnecessary.
The device is essentially a modern MacBook Pro in the standard Air design. It has the same third-generation laptop keyboard with the butterfly mechanism, meaning it’s been fine-tuned to fix some of the big issues that plagued the initial and follow-up runs of MacBook Pros over the last two years.
The machine ships with 8th Gen Intel dual-core CPU with integrated graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to a 1.5TB SSD. You can also use one of two USB-C / Thunderbolt to power an external 5K display or hook up an eGPU external graphics enclosure. The base model — containing 8GB RAM, a 1.6GHz Core i5, and a 128GB SSD — is on sale starting today for $1,199. The device, like the new Mac mini, is now made of 100 percent recycled aluminum, a first for Apple’s laptop line.