MacBook Air returns with Retina Display, modern internals & higher price

After years of waiting, Apple finally announced a major overhaul to MacBook Air, during their October 2018 event in Brooklyn. The new update gives MacBook Air a Retina Display with thinner bezels and 8th generation Intel processors. Other features include a third-generation butterfly keyboard, Force Touch trackpad, faster SSD storage, 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, and much more. Read on to find all you know to know about its features, price and availability.

MacBook Air all colors

With the new 2018 MacBook Air, Apple has listened to all customer requests. The previous MacBook Air, still sold for $999, had a fourth generation Intel processor and a non-Retina display. In both these specifications, Apple had already upgraded all its other MacBooks and even the competition had been offering far better products. While we still don’t know why Apple took its sweet time to update the Air, the company has implemented all the requested features and added some more.

MacBook Air Features

Performance

The new MacBook Air has an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, clocking in at 1.6GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz. It’s a Y-series processor, which means that it is not the fastest one out there and trades of performance for efficiency. Unlike other MacBooks, there is no other processor configuration available here. Base models have 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory and can be configured with 16GB memory. In the graphics department, Intel UHD Graphics 617 is included, while support for Thunderbolt 3 external eGPUs is available.

All this performance means that the new Air can power an external 5K display at 60Hz or 2 4K displays at 60Hz.

Retina Display

Perhaps the biggest feature that deserves a ‘finally’ is the Retina Display for MacBook Air. A 13.3 inch display with thin bezels, 227 pixels-per-inch density and 16:10 aspect ratio takes center stage.

MacBook Air Retina Display

Keyboard and Force Touch Trackpad

Apple has continued improving their butterfly keyboard and this is their second update in 2018. 2018 MacBook Pro shipped with the second generation butterfly keyboard while 2018 MacBook Air ships with the third generation butterfly keyboard. The company says that the keyboard features more stability, which likely means that it will not break as easily as before. All keys are also individually backlit by LEDs, something that has been a standard for many years in other MacBooks.

A large Force Touch trackpad with haptic feedback has also been added to the machine.

MacBook Air Keyboard

SSD storage

SSD storage is 60 percent faster than before and is available in the following configurations: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1.5TB. The 1.5TB option costs $1,000 more than the 128GB option so it’s not an easy choice to make.

USB-C Thunderbolt 3

Apple has added two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports to the Air. These support external eGPUs, USB 3.1 Gen 2, and charging. The only device that still does not have USB-C in Apple’s product line-up is iPhone. Even iPad Pro has USB-C now.

MacBook Air Ports

Touch ID & T2 Security Chip

Touch ID is a surprising addition as it is not part of the more expensive Retina MacBook and MacBook Pro without Touch Bar. Fortunately, Apple has integrated this feature without Touch Bar, so users still get the physical function keys. Touch ID, and other security features on the Air are powered by a new Apple T2 security chip. T2 powers Touch ID, secure boot, real-time data encryption and Hey Siri.

Speakers & Camera

A FaceTime HD camera is included, which is better than the 480p camera included in the Retina MacBook which costs more than the Air. Speakers have also been improved and three microphones have been added which should help with calls and Hey Siri.

MacBook Air Price & Availability

The new MacBook Air is available in the following colors: Gold, Space Grey and Silver. Pre-orders are open now and shipping starts on November 7.

For $1,199, you can buy a MacBook Air with the following configuration:

  • 1.6Ghz processor
  • 8GB memory
  • 128GB SSD

For $1,399, you can get a version with 256GB SSD instead. You can also customize your order to get 16GB memory for $200 more.

If you were thinking that Apple would simply replace the old, and I mean OLD, MacBook Air with the new one, you could not be more wrong. That is something the old Apple would do, not this new one. Apple continues selling the old MacBook Air for $999 and has oddly priced the new one at $1,199. This makes it slightly cheaper than 12-inch MacBook but more featured. This begs the question: why is 12-inch MacBook still a thing or even costs more than Air?