MacBook Air Reviews Roundup: 'Best Computer for Most People' Again After 2018 Refresh

Apple's embargo lifted today on the first full-length reviews of the new MacBook Air ahead of the notebook's release on Wednesday.

macbook air verge

The new MacBook Air via The Verge

The new MacBook Air features a faster 1.6GHz dual-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, a Retina display, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1.5TB of SSD storage, and Intel UHD Graphics 617. It also has Touch ID, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and the same third-generation butterfly keyboard as the latest MacBook Pro.

Review Highlights

The Verge's Dieter Bohn:

So let me just bottom line it: this new MacBook Air is faster than the old MacBook Air, but not by the kind of margin you'd expect after three years (or even one, if you happened to buy the 2017 model). You can do all of the same stuff you can do on your current Air. I have been running a half-dozen apps at a time along with more than a dozen tabs in Chrome, and everything is pretty okay. I think for what most people will do with this laptop, it's fine. …

If you're hoping you'll be able to upgrade and get way faster video editing or process a ton of RAW photos at once, get a MacBook Pro. Those kinds of tasks will bring this Air to a chug and spin up those fans. I have found it to be more capable and powerful than the 12-inch MacBook, but, again, the difference is not as big as I'd hoped.

And:

People like the Mac. It's great to have a computer that does all of the computer stuff you want in a way you're familiar with. Until recently, the best computer for most people was the MacBook Air, and Apple took way too long to update it. So people have been waiting. And waiting.

Now, the wait is over. But if you were hoping that lightning would strike twice and this new MacBook Air would be as revolutionary as the old MacBook Air, well, it's not. It's basically a MacBook that finally includes all of the stuff that has been happening with laptops for the past few years. It is on par with the rest of the laptop world, but it hasn't moved beyond it.

Wired's Lauren Goode:

What might push you towards the Air, though, more so than any other Mac laptop, is its battery life. …

Not surprisingly, the laptop drained much more quickly when I used the MacBook Air to charge my iPhone, something I do often. But in another recent test—browsing in Safari, running Slack and iMessage, editing a few photos in Lightroom, all with the display between 60 to 70 percent of maximum brightness—it lasted just under eight hours.

Daring Fireball's John Gruber:

A lot of people are looking at the lineup as it stands today thinking they must be missing something, because it seems obvious that most people looking for a MacBook in this price range should buy the new MacBook Air. They’re not missing anything. The new Air is exactly that: the MacBook most people should buy, and exactly the MacBook everyone has been asking Apple to make.

TechCrunch's Brian Heater:

There's no doubt the new Air marks a sizable update. It's pricier, too, though Apple's kept things more in check here than with the Mac Mini. With all of its upgrades and lower price point to boot, the Air is the clear pick over the 12-inch MacBook in practically every way.

As a matter of fact, barring some major future upgrade, the 12-inch likely isn't long for this world. And that's perfectly fine. The new Air is very clearly the better buy.

Engadget's Dana Wollman:

This is the same screen technology already in use on the 12-inch MacBook, and the color spectrum Apple is touting is actually sRGB -- a common spec for laptops in this price range. In fact, that's one of the main differences between this screen and the MacBook Pro: For the money, Apple's highest-end laptops step up to the professional-grade P3 color spectrum. I don't miss it, but if you do, the Air wasn't the right laptop for you anyway.

Six Colors's Jason Snell:

If you're shopping for a Mac laptop, start with the MacBook Air. Want a cheaper model? The old Air is there for as long as it lasts. Want something even smaller and lighter, and are willing to trade some power, port flexibility, and money for it? The MacBook is for you. Want something more powerful, and are willing to take on a slightly heavier and more expensive device? The 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar is for you. Want even more power? The 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros offer numerous opportunities to upgrade specs and spend more money.

AppleInsider's Andrew O'Hara:

When we compared the display of the new MacBook Air to our 15-inch 2017 MacBook Pro, they both looked pretty solid, but we noticed at least one difference —the new Air doesn't get quite as bright. When we checked out the specs page, Apple outlines the newest Pros can reach up to 500 nits of brightness, while the new Airs only max out at 300. This would be more noticeable for anyone working outside, but isn't a big deal in an office environment, or even a bright room.

Review and Unboxing Videos







More Reviews

The new MacBook Air is available to order on Apple.com, with deliveries to customers and in-store availability starting tomorrow. The notebook now starts at $1,199, while Apple continues to sell the previous-generation model for $999.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Tag: reviews
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

MacFather Avatar
32 months ago
Deleted.
Score: 63 Votes (Like | Disagree)
levitynyc Avatar
32 months ago
Most people need 256GB of storage rather than 128GB.

Most sane people would completely balk at that being a $200 upgrade cost.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Phazer Avatar
32 months ago
And the last good Macbook keyboard dies.

I really hope that karma revisits whichever executive ruined my computing experience with the butterfly horror show.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zackmd1 Avatar
32 months ago
Most people need 256GB of storage rather than 128GB.

Most sane people would completely balk at that being a $200 upgrade cost.
Every Mac in Apple's base configurations should start at 256Gb IMO. It's not 2012 any more..... Flash storage has gotten alot cheaper. I can pick up a 1TB Samsung 970 Evo NVMe drive for about $250..... That's about what apple charges for an extra 128gb and they made sure it was non usee upgradable.....

So yes I agree with you.... Most sane people should stay away unitl Apple decides it can't keep raising prices to offset declining/stagnant sales.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gpat Avatar
32 months ago
- 15W quad-core CPU
- 500 nits P3 display
- Touch ID with no touch bar
- 3rd gen butterfly keyboard

Give me that and I'll buy. Otherwise, no deal.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Fly (film) Avatar
32 months ago
[8 GB / 256 GB model starts from €1,629]

If you can afford it, don’t wish for your keyboard to be quiet and feel satisfying, and don’t mind needing a cable every time you wish to import photos from a DSLR. Also, the two Thunderbolt ports are too close together for many uses [something Apple could have avoided easily]. What is it with Apple notebook designers being so anti-user?

To be fair to Apple, though, I can understand why the price went up. After all, they now only make a mere profit of $1B every 6 and a half days [yes, profit].

I’m sure Jony Ive can afford these products, with his chauffeur-driven Bentley, and his $17M town house. Which he bought for design reasons, of course. How quaint.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
sonny 2021 ipad mini pro dummies

Leaked Dummy Units Show iPad Mini 6 With Thick Bezels and Home Button, New iPad Pro Models

Thursday April 8, 2021 2:11 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple will release refreshed versions of the iPad mini and iPad Pro models in the first half of this year, potentially as soon as this month, and a new leak today has provided us with a possible preview of what to expect in terms of the devices' overall design and camera prospects. Tech leaker and Apple blogger Sonny Dickson this morning shared images on Twitter showing dummy ...
fake airpods 3

Counterfeit 'AirPods 3' Hit the Market Prior to Official Announcement

Friday April 9, 2021 2:45 am PDT by
Apple is expected to launch the third iteration of AirPods in the third quarter of this year. Rumors and reports suggest the new AirPods will feature an updated design more in line with the AirPods Pro, but lacking in "Pro" features such as active noise cancellation. Despite AirPods 3 not yet being officially announced by Apple, counterfeit products of the unreleased earbuds have already hit ...
iMessage Android featured

Apple's Rationale for Not Bringing iMessage to Android Revealed in Legal Documents

Friday April 9, 2021 2:22 am PDT by
It's no secret that Apple sees iMessage as a big enough selling point to keep the service exclusive to Apple devices, however new court filings submitted by Epic Games in its ongoing lawsuit with the company reveal just how Apple executives have rationalized their decision not to develop a version of iMessage for Android. Apple clearly recognizes the power that iMessage has to keep users...
nba tracking prompt orange

Two-Thirds of iPhone Users Expected to Block Ad Tracking

Friday April 9, 2021 7:19 am PDT by
As many as 68 percent of iPhone users are expected to deny advertisers permission to track them thanks to Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature, in what is beginning to look like a significant blow to the advertising industry (via AdWeek). With the launch of iOS 14.5, apps will have to receive explicit user permission before accessing an iPhone's advertising identifier or IDFA, which is...
iPhone 13 Battery Life Feature

DigiTimes: iPhone 13 Pro Models to Feature 120Hz ProMotion Refresh Rate and 15-20% Less Power Consumption

Friday April 9, 2021 12:52 am PDT by
The two premium "Pro" models of the upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will be equipped with a low-power LTPO display, enabling the iPhones to have a 120Hz refresh rate, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese publication DigiTimes. According to today's paywalled report, Apple suppliers Samsung and LG Display are in the process of converting parts of their production capacity to produce LTPO ...
ehric

iPhone 12 Mini Missing From Top 5 Best Selling Smartphone List of January 2021

Friday April 9, 2021 4:58 am PDT by
According to market data compiled by Counterpoint Research, Apple's smallest iPhone since the 2016 iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 mini, struggled to obtain a spot in the top five list of best-selling smartphones in January of this year. According to the market data, the iPhone 12 mini came in eighth place for the best-selling smartphone worldwide in the first month of the year. However, the iPhone ...
Top Stories 56 Feature

Top Stories: 'Find My' Expansion, iPhone 13 Pro Mockup, Largest-Ever iMac?

Saturday April 10, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's AirTags may still be nowhere to be seen nearly two years after signs of them were first discovered, but Apple this week launched its Find My network accessory program that will let third-party devices integrate with the Find My app on Apple's platforms to make it easy to keep track of your items. This week also saw fresh rumors about the upcoming "iPhone 13" and new iMacs, while...
fortnite apple featured

Epic's Case Against Apple in Australia Might Be Over

Friday April 9, 2021 12:21 pm PDT by
Epic Games and Apple are involved in a highly public lawsuit in the United States, but Epic has also sued Apple in other countries, including Australia, in an attempt to boost its chances of getting a favorable ruling. Things aren't quite going Epic's way, however, as the justice overseeing the case today decided that he's going to let the two companies battle it out in the United States. ...
Apple TV Ray Light Teal Film

Apple Wants to Draw Subscribers to Apple TV+ With More Feature Films

Friday April 9, 2021 10:27 am PDT by
Apple is ramping up its efforts to produce feature films, according to a new report from The Information. Apple has a limited number of high profile films already, including "Palmer," "Cherry," and "Greyhound," and sees it as a way to draw more people into Apple TV+. Apple has been telling studio executives that it is aiming to do more than 10 to 12 original movies per year for Apple TV+,...