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Apple’s new laptop lineup is simpler, but choosing which one to buy isn’t any easier

Apple’s new laptop lineup is simpler, but choosing which one to buy isn’t any easier


You could buy the new MacBook Air, but for $200 more...

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Apple simplified its laptop lineup today by discontinuing a few models. The 12-inch MacBook and the pre-2018 MacBook Air are no longer sold through the Apple Store. Now, it’s just the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Simpler, right?

On the surface, Apple seems to have made deciding between those two laptop models even easier, too. The MacBook Air’s price has dropped by $100, bringing it down to $1,099 ($999 for students and teachers). At that price, it’s $200 less than the new baseline 13-inch MacBook Pro configuration.

And $200 is enough of a price difference that you might find yourself leaning toward the new MacBook Air. But there are a few reasons why spending that extra $200 on a MacBook Pro might be worth it in the long run.

Keep in mind that we haven’t reviewed either of these machines yet, so this is less of a recommendation and more calling attention to the main differences in case you were interested in taking the plunge right now.

The major differences are subtle

The MacBook Air now has a True Tone display, giving it the ability to auto-adapt its color temperature to make it easier on the eyes. It also has the “new material” keyboard, which aims to reduce the widespread issues spurred by Apple’s butterfly keyboard. Both of those changes are great, and it helps to more closely align Apple’s now-cheapest laptop with the MacBook Pro.

However, if you’re a power user or you just want to get the most for your money, the latest updates to the MacBook Pro 13-inch will probably catch your eye. The new baseline Pro also includes a True Tone display, the Touch Bar (your mileage may vary with this feature), and a notably more powerful quad-core Intel Core i5 processor. The latter spec is a big jump forward for the entry-level model, and Apple currently doesn’t offer a quad-core CPU option for the MacBook Air. The Pro’s display is also brighter than the MacBook Air’s, even though they share the same size and resolution.

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air mostly mirror each other when it comes to specs. But for everything you get by paying a $200 premium, the MacBook Pro might work out to be a better choice for you. You might be wondering if it’s better to spend $200 for the Pro’s faster processor and better screen or putting that same amount toward getting 16GB of RAM in the MacBook Air. That’s a tough call to make, and it will depend greatly on your own computing needs and habits.

Apple MacBook Air /

$1,099 from Apple

Buy Now

Apple MacBook Pro 13 /

$1,299 from Apple

Buy Now

We’ll be testing both models in the near future to find a definitive answer to which one is the best MacBook for most people, so stay tuned for that.

Here’s a look at the spec differences:

Comparing the latest baseline MacBook configurations

ComparisonMacBook AirMacBook Pro
Screen13.3-inch Retina Display with True Tone13.3-inch Retina Display with True Tone
Processor1.6GHz dual-core 8th Gen Intel Core i51.4GHz quad-core 8th Gen Intel Core i5
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 617Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
Thunderbolt 3 portsTwoTwo
BiometricsTouch IDTouch ID
Includes Touch BarNoYes

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