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Apple adds True Tone display to the MacBook Air and Touch Bar to the entry-level MacBook Pro

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Back-to-school updates for Apple’s cheapest laptops

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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Apple updated its high-end MacBook Pro models at the end of May, and now it’s time for the entry-level MacBook Pro (which was previously known as the MacBook Escape) and the MacBook Air to get some refreshes.

The base model MacBook Pro is getting the most substantial update: after being ignored by Apple since 2017, it’s finally getting an overhaul, adding a Touch Bar and Touch ID (sorry, physical keyboard fans) as well new Intel processors. Instead of the 2.3GHz dual-core 7th Gen Core i5 chipset that Apple has offered for over two years, the new entry-level MacBook Pro now offers a 1.4GHz quad-core 8th Gen Core i5 chip (which can boost up to 3.9GHz) from Intel’s Coffee Lake lineup. Sadly, the biggest flaw of the original MacBook Escape remains: unlike the pricier 13-inch MacBook Pro, it’ll still only offer two USB-C ports, not four.

Apple’s offering the new entry-level MacBook Pro in two starting configurations: a $1,299 model with a 128GB SSD, and a 256GB model for $1,499.

The MacBook Air is also getting an update today, although it’s on the slimmer side. It’s getting Apple’s True True display technology, which (similar to other Apple devices) automatically adjusts the display based on ambient light for more natural colors, along with a $100 price drop. It now starts at $1,099 or $999 for students. The specs on the new Air remain the same, with Intel’s dual-core 8th Gen i5 chips.

The elephant in the room is still the keyboards, which feature the same butterfly-style mechanism that Apple’s been using for the last few years. Apple did recently update its third-generation mechanism with the May refresh of the MacBook Pro, and that updated third-gen keyboard that Apple says is built with a “new material” will be present on both the updated Air and entry-level Pro. Given how recent the change to the new material for the third-gen design is, we’ll likely still have to wait until more people have a chance to use the new keyboards, though, to see if they’re as prone to failure as the older models.

Update July 9th, 9:25am ET: Added details about keyboard mechanism on the new MacBook Pro and Air.

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