MacBook Air

Apple's lowest-cost notebook starting at $1,099 with a Retina display and Touch ID. Refreshed in July 2019.

MacBook Air

At a Glance

  • Apple in July 2019 introduced a minor refresh for the MacBook Air, adding a True Tone display, updated butterfly keyboard, and most importantly, a more affordable price tag starting at $1,099. The MacBook Air continues to feature a Retina display, slim bezels, Touch ID, 8th-gen Intel chips, up to 16GB RAM, and up to a 1TB SSD.

Current Specs

  • 13" screen size
  • 2560 x 1600 Retina display with True Tone
  • 1.6 GHz 8th-gen dual-core i5 processor
  • Up to 1 TB SSD
  • Touch ID
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • Upgraded butterfly keyboard
  • Lower price

Models

13.3-inch with 2560 x 1600 Display:
- $1,099: 1.6 GHz Core i5 & 128 GB storage
- $1,299: 1.6 GHz Core i5 & 256 GB storage

Last Updated 2 weeks ago

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The 2019 MacBook Air

Apple in July 2019 refreshed the MacBook Air, which was initially redesigned in October 2018. There were no major changes to the MacBook Air, but the update brings a lower price tag, an updated display with True Tone, some minor SSD changes, and a new butterfly keyboard that uses the same updated materials as the 2019 MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Air continues to be equipped with a Retina display with slimmer, less distracting black bezels that better match the slimmer bezels of the MacBook Pro.

With more than 4 million pixels and a resolution of 2560x1600, the MacBook Air's display offers 48 percent more color than pre-2018 models for more lifelike images. At the top of the display, there's a FaceTime HD camera and a three microphone array for better sound. New in 2019 is a True Tone display that matches the white balance of the monitor to the ambient lighting in the room to make for a more natural viewing experience.

Design wise, the MacBook Air features a tapered wedge-shaped body, but the machine is 10 percent thinner, takes up 17 percent less volume, and weighs a quarter pound less at 2.75 pounds compared to the older MacBook Air models. Apple says the MacBook Air's enclosure is made from an Apple-designed aluminum alloy that uses 100 percent recycled aluminum.

The MacBook Air comes in multiple color options, with Space Gray, Silver, and Gold machines available for purchase. The MacBook Air adopts a few features from the MacBook Pro, including a larger Force Touch trackpad, as well as an upgraded third-generation Butterfly keyboard made from more durable materials that's new for 2019.

Like the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air includes a T2 chip and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor to use in lieu of a password. The T2 chip is designed to make the MacBook Air more secure with an SSD controller for on-the-fly data encryption and a Secure Enclave to ensure a secure boot process. Through the T2 chip, always-on "Hey Siri" functionality is available.

Like the 2018 machine, the 2019 MacBook Air is equipped with a 1.6GHz 7W Y-Series Amber Lake chip from Intel that supports Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, and with the new lower-power higher-efficiency processor, the MacBook Air battery lasts longer than ever with up to 12 hours of web browsing and 13 hours of movie playback.

Apple's new machine uses integrated Intel UHD Graphics 617, but with two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, it also works with Thunderbolt 3 eGPUs and supports one 5K display or two 4K displays.

The MacBook Air supports up to 16GB RAM and up to 1TB of solid state storage, but the base model comes with 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. Apple introduced a slightly slower SSD in the 2019 MacBook Air with 256GB of storage, which likely helped keep the price low.

Pricing on the 2019 MacBook Air starts at $1,099, which is $100 less than the 2018 model. With educational discounts, pricing on the MacBook Air is as low as $999.

The MacBook Air can be purchased from Apple's online store and from Apple retail stores around the world.

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Issues

A "very small number" of 2018 MacBook Air units have a faulty logic board, and people experiencing issues may be able to get a repair free of charge. Apple has provided a document on the problem to Apple Authorized Service Providers, but has not publicly announced a repair program.

Customers who have a MacBook Air with a problematic logic board will be notified via email and can then set up an appointment for a repair.

Design

The 2019 MacBook Air features no design changes and offers the same look as the 2018 MacBook Air. It's available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. The new MacBook Air is made from an Apple-designed aluminum alloy that uses 100 percent recycled aluminum.

Design wise, the MacBook Air continues to feature its traditional wedge shape, tapering from thick to thin towards the front of the device. The new MacBook Air design introduced in 2018 takes up 17 percent less volume and is 10 percent thinner than the older versions of the MacBook Air.

At its thickest point, the MacBook Air measures in at .61 inches, and at its thinnest point, it measures in at 0.16 inches. It's 11.97 inches long and 8.36 inches wide, and it weighs in at 2.75 pounds.

As with last year's model, the new MacBook Air uses a Retina display, a feature that first came to the MacBook Air in 2018. Around the display, there are also slim black bezels, giving the MacBook Air a similar design to the MacBook Pro.

Keyboard

Like the MacBook Pro, the 2019 MacBook Air features an upgraded third-generation butterfly keyboard that improves upon the build quality of the previous-generation butterfly keyboard.

According to Apple, the upgraded third-generation butterfly keyboard features "new materials," but there are no details on what those new materials are. Apple says the new design will significantly cut down on keyboard failures that have impacted prior versions of the butterfly keyboard.

An iFixit teardown of the MacBook Pro suggests Apple has introduced a new membrane that covers the keyboard switches. The new membrane is clearer and smoother to the touch, and appears to be made with polyacetylene. There are also subtle changes to the metal dome over each key switch, perhaps designed to alleviate problems with durability, bounce-back, or other issues.

Apple's Mac notebooks have been using butterfly keys instead of traditional switch mechanisms since 2015, with butterfly keys optimized for a more responsive feel and a greater sense of keyboard travel for a more satisfying press under the fingers.

In all prior Mac notebooks dating back to 2015, users have occasionally experienced keyboard failures, possibly related to crumbs, dust, and other small particulates getting under the keys.

It's too early to tell if the updated version of the butterfly keyboard will prevent 2019 machines from experiencing the same issues, but if failures do occur, all new 2019 MacBook Air models are covered by Apple's Keyboard Service Program for four years from the date of purchase.

Trackpad

The 2018 and 2019 MacBook Air include a larger Force Touch trackpad much like the MacBook Pro. The Force Touch trackpad has no traditional buttons and is instead powered by a set of Force Sensors, allowing users to press anywhere on the trackpad to get the same response. A Taptic Engine powered by magnets provides users with tactile feedback when using the trackpad, replacing the feel of a physical button press.

The Force Touch trackpad supports a light press, which is used as a regular click, along with a deeper press or "force click" as a separate gesture that does things like offer up definitions for a highlighted word.

Ports

Two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports are included in the MacBook Air. With Thunderbolt 3, the MacBook Air can support 4K and 5K displays and connect to eGPUs for faster graphics capabilities when necessary.

Thunderbolt 3 supports transfer speeds of up to 40Gb/s, while in USB-C mode ports support USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfer speeds of up to 10Gb/s.

Along with the two Thunderbolt 3 ports, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack on the other side of the device. Other than that, there are no additional ports on the MacBook Air, with Apple having removed the USB-A ports and SD card slot.

Display

Apple's 2019 MacBook Air continues to offer a Retina display that's much sharper, crisper, and clearer than the previous non-Retina displays used in the MacBook Air prior to 2018.

It has a 2560 by 1600 resolution with 227 pixels per inch and more than 4 million pixels in total. The display offers 48 percent more color than the previous generation for more lifelike, true to life colors.

True Tone

New to the 2019 MacBook Air is support for True Tone, which is designed to tweak the color of the display to match the lighting in the room.

True Tone works through a multi-channel ambient light sensor that's included in the new MacBook Air models, which is able to determine both the brightness of the room and the color temperature.

After detecting the white balance, the MacBook Air is able to adjust both the color and intensity of the display to match the room's lighting for a more natural, paper-like viewing experience that also cuts down on eyestrain.

Processor and GPU

The MacBook Air is equipped with a 1.6GHz dual-core processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz. It's a 7W Y-Series Amber Lake chip from Intel, which is a departure from the 15W U-Series chips that were used in previous-generation MacBook Air machines.

There is only one chip option for the MacBook Air, which is a bit unusual as Apple typically offers several chip upgrade options for its machines.

In Geekbench benchmarks, the MacBook Air earned a single-core score of 4248 and a multi-core score of 7828. Performance has improved over the previous-generation MacBook Air and it's faster than even the fastest 12-inch MacBook, but can't compare with MacBook Pro performance.

Comparison info displaying the Geekbench scores of the 2018 MacBook Air compared to other MacBook Air, MacBook, and MacBook Pro machines is below.

  • 2018 MacBook Air - 4248
  • 2017 MacBook Air - 3335
  • 1.4GHz 2017 MacBook - 3925
  • 1.3GHz 2017 MacBook - 3630
  • 1.2GHz 2017 MacBook - 3527
  • 2.3GHz 2018 MacBook Pro - 4504
  • 2.3GHz 2017 MacBook Pro - 4314

Multi-Core Performance

  • 2018 MacBook Air - 7828
  • 2017 MacBook Air - 6119
  • 1.4GHz 2017 MacBook - 7567
  • 1.3GHz 2017 MacBook - 6974
  • 1.2GHz 2017 MacBook - 6654
  • 2.3GHz 2018 MacBook Pro - 16464
  • 2.3GHz 2017 MacBook Pro - 9071

Geekbench benchmarks aren't necessarily indicative of real-world performance, but it gives us some idea of how the MacBook Air fits into Apple's Mac lineup.

As for graphics, the MacBook Air uses integrated Intel UHD Graphics 617, and it can also connect to eGPUs.

A mystery Geekbench result for an unreleased Mac with a dual-core eighth-generation Core i7 processor with a 1.8GHz clock speed was spotted shortly after the launch of the MacBook Air, suggesting Apple perhaps prototyped a variant with an upgraded processor.

A machine with a faster processor did not launch suggesting Apple scrapped it or is planning to launch it as an upgrade option at some point in time.

RAM

Base models of the MacBook Pro ship with 8GB 2133MHz RAM, but it can be customized with up to 16GB RAM.

T2 Chip

Apple is slowly adding a super secure T2 chip to all of its Macs, and following the MacBook Pro and the iMac Pro, the MacBook Air is the latest machine to be updated with the T2.

The T2 chip has a built-in Secure Enclave to protect your Touch ID information, and it also offers on-the-fly data encryption for everything stored on your SSD. The chip is also designed to make sure software loaded when booting up your Mac hasn't been tampered with and is free from malware.

In addition to these security features, the T2, which is a separate little chip in your MacBook Air, enables an always-on "Hey Siri" feature so it listens for the "Hey Siri" command and there's no longer a need to click on the Siri button to activate Siri.

Touch ID

The 2019 MacBook Pro continues to support Touch ID, much like the MacBook Pro. Next to the function keys at the top of the keyboard, there's a sapphire crystal-covered Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Touch ID on the MacBook can be used instead of a password, unlocking the Mac when a finger is placed on the sensor. It also replaces a password for password protected apps, and it can be used to make Apple Pay purchases in Safari.

Touch ID is powered by the T2 chip with a Secure Enclave that keeps your fingerprint data and personal information safe.

Battery Life

Apple's 2019 MacBook Air features the best battery life of any Mac notebook. There's a built-in 50.3-watt-hour battery inside. The battery lasts for up to 12 hours when browsing the web and up to 13 hours when watching iTunes movies.

The battery in the MacBook Air is easier to replace and does not require the entire top case to be replaced as is the case with the MacBook Pro. Apple ships the MacBook Air with a 30W USB-C Power Adapter that's used to charge it.

Other Features

Connectivity

The MacBook Air supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

Speakers and Microphone

The speakers in the MacBook Air are 25 percent louder than the speakers in the old 2015 model with two times more bass for more dynamic range and fuller sound.

A three microphone array allows for better sound quality for video and audio calls.

HD Camera

There's a 720p HD camera built into the front of the MacBook for FaceTime calls.

Storage

The MacBook Air uses solid state storage with capacities up to 1TB. While the 128GB SSD is similar to the SSD in the previous-generation 2018 MacBook Air, the SSD in the 2019 256GB MacBook Air has been slightly downgraded, perhaps to keep costs low.

A test of the 2019 MacBook Air with 256GB of storage demonstrated write speeds of 1GB/s and read speeds of 1.3GB/s. An equivalent model released in 2018 featured write speeds of 920MB/s and read speeds of 2GB/s. While write speeds are on par with the older machine (and are even slightly better), read speeds have dropped 35 percent.

While the 2018 MacBook Air could be configured with up to 1.5TB of SSD storage, the 2019 model maxes out at 1TB.

Base Models

There are two stock 13.3-inch 2018 MacBook Air configurations available from Apple, in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold:

  • $1,099 - 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 617, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD.

  • $1,299 - 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 617, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD.

Build to Order Options

The RAM and SSD capacity can be customized when purchasing a 2019 MacBook Air, but there are no upgrade options for processor or graphics.

Entry-level MacBook Air upgrade options:

  • 16GB RAM - +$200

  • 256GB SSD - +$200

  • 512GB SSD - +$400

  • 1TB SSD - +$600

Higher-end MacBook Air upgrade options:

  • 16GB RAM - +$200

  • 512GB SSD - +$200

  • 1TB SSD - +$400

A top-of-the-line MacBook Air with a 1.6GHz processor, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD will cost $1,899.

How to Buy

The MacBook Air can be purchased from the Apple online and retail stores. It is also available from third-party retailers.

What's Next for the MacBook Air

Though the MacBook Air was just refreshed in July with a True Tone display and keyboard updates, rumors from Apple's supply chain suggest another update is planned for 2019, perhaps in October. It's not clear what might be included in this update if the information is accurate.

According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple may be planning to do away with the butterfly mechanism in its MacBook keyboards in the future, introducing a new design based on scissor switches. Kuo says the new keyboard could bring longer key travel and durability by using glass fiber to reinforce the keys' structure.

The scissor keyboard will be thicker than the butterfly keyboard, but Kuo says that most users likely won't be able to tell the difference. Kuo believes the new keyboard will first be introduced in a MacBook Air update. Kuo believes the new scissor keyboard will be coming to the MacBook Air in 2020.

Chips appropriate for the next-generation MacBook Air were introduced by Intel in August. Codenamed Ice Lake, the new 10th-generation chips are built on a 10-nanometer process.

The Ice Lake chips offer double the graphics performance, integrated Thunderbolt 3, and Wi-Fi 6. The first machines with Ice Lake chips will be coming out in late 2019.

Apple is said to be working on a range of MacBooks with 5G cellular connectivity, which could launch as early as next year. The rumor comes from DigiTimes, a site that has a mixed track record when it comes to Apple info.

The site says that Apple has finalized its integrated 5G MacBook design, and it has a 5G transceiver that's more efficient and faster than components used by rivals like Lenovo, Dell, and HP. Apple is said to be using a ceramic antenna board for the improved performance, which could drive up the cost of the 5G MacBook.

Best Prices
MacBook Air (Late 2018): 128 GB - Space Gray
MacBook Air (Late 2018): 256 GB - Gold
MacBook Air (Late 2018): 256 GB - Silver
MacBook Air (Late 2018): 256 GB - Space Gray
MacBook Air (Mid 2019): 128 GB - Space Gray

MacBook Air Timeline

Roundup Last Updated
August2019
July2019
June2019
May2019
April2019
March2019
February2019
January2019
December2018
November2018