Apple MacBook Air review
MacBook Air 2018 review
- PROS • Stunning design makes it more portable than ever • A Retina display finally on an Air • Good battery life • Touch ID fingerprint scanner
- CONS • High price • USB-C ports are both on one side • Butterfly keyboard won’t suit everyone
Ever since the MacBook Air was pulled from an A4 envelope back in 2008 it’s been admired for offering powerful specs and ultimate portability.
For many, the Air is their first taste of an Apple laptop and it has been adored by millions across the globe.
Now, a decade after it first launched, this laptop has received a major overhaul and it’s about to be loved again by a whole new generation.
Apple revealed this rebooted device last week in New York and don’t think for one minute this is a simple upgrade.
The new MacBook Air has been totally redesigned to bring it in line with Apple’s other range of premium laptops.
That means it gets a sleek aluminium case and shiny embossed Apple logo – which replaces the glowing symbol that has been shining bright since its conception.
This updated design has allowed Apple to make it even thinner and lighter than before with the new Air weighing in at just 1.2Kg – that’s around 10g lighter than its predecessor.
There’s no question this laptop looks stunning, especially as you can now buy it in three colours including a striking Gold, Space Grey and the classic Silver.
Although things look seriously good on the outside, perhaps the biggest change comes when you open the lid.
That’s because the Air finally gets what many have been asking for – a Retina display.
In recent years the lower resolution LED-backlit screen has been one of the main criticisms of the older device and it means users finally get this pin-sharp viewing experience on an Air laptop.
The Air is now more portable than ever
Along with this display looking crisp, bright and packed with colour, there’s also another advantage as the bezels have been significantly reduced.
This means the overall footprint of the Air is now much smaller than its predecessor despite the fact it still packs a 13.3-inch display.
When you place old and new side by side you can really notice the difference and it makes this latest laptop even more portable than before.
As well as the screen getting a big refresh, there’s also the arrival of Apple’s new backlit butterfly keyboard.
These keys have divided opinion since they were first unveiled on the original MacBook back in 2015 with some users liking the feel whilst others still preferring the previous typing experience.
Apple MacBook Air 2018 review
We’ve never had an issue with this keyboard update and it’s worth noting that the Air features Apple’s very latest design which is quieter and more robust to use.
Tucked below these keys is the brilliant Force Touch trackpad which lets you interact with your Mac in a variety of ways based on subtle differences in pressure.
This trackpad offers a vastly improved experience and it’s great to see this technology finally arrive on Apple’s MacBook Air.
Another major change to the overall layout is the addition of a Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
Until now, this security feature was only found on the much more expensive MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.
Touch ID offers a fast way to unlock the Mac and you can also use it to make secure web payments via Apple Pay.
The new Apple MacBook Air includes a Touch ID fingerprint scanner
It’s super slick to use and, with the inclusion of Apple’s clever T2 chip, your personal data is made even safer.
One final addition are the speaker grills which now bookend the keyboard.
These add some extra style but, more importantly, they sound even better with the audio they pump out being around 25 percent louder than before.
Of course with all of this new screen, keyboard and audio technology you might be wondering about battery life.
One area where the Air has always impressed is how long it lasts and, despite that Retina display glowing bright, things still look good for this new machine.
With average use, you should easily get 10-hours out of a single charge.
There’s USB-C on this new machine with both ports on the same side
There’s finally a Retina display arriving on this laptop
When things do run low you won’t find any sign of Apple’s famous MagSafe port with the US firm choosing USB-C instead.
There’s two of these Thunderbolt 3 sockets placed on the side of the machine which can both refill the laptop and offer a fast connection to peripherals.
If you haven’t used one of the latest MacBooks before it’s worth noting that you’ll need to buy some dongle-style adapters if you want to plug in standard USB devices, external displays or your camera’s SD card.
This can be a little irritating but it’s something we all have to get used to as Apple is now fully committed to this new USB-C Thunderbolt technology.
Another thing that’s slightly annoying on the Air is that both of these USB ports have been placed on the same side.
One of the best parts of the more expensive Pro is that you can charge or plug extra devices into the Mac from either side meaning the end of cables being stretched across your legs.
The Air 2018 includes Apple’s new butterfly keyboard
If it’s sheer power you are after then the Air appears pretty capable.
We’ve been running numerous applications such as Photoshop and video editing software on this machine and it copes pretty well.
The base model comes packing a 1.6GHz dual-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
If you think you’re likely to be performing some memory-thirsty 4K video editing then you’re probably still better off with a MacBook Pro model but the Air is certainly no slouch.
And it can be boosted with options to add more RAM and internal memory although adding these extras can end up pushing the price to well over £2,500.
Even the starting price is high with the Air now costing at least £1,199 which we think is a little expensive especially as the older Air is still on sale for under £799.
One final thing to note is how green Apple’s latest portable PC is.
The new MacBook Air enclosure is made from a custom, Apple-designed aluminium alloy that enables the use of 100 percent recycled aluminium for the first time and helps reduce the carbon footprint.
It also arrives out of the box running the latest macOS Mojave update which includes features such as Dark Mode, improved Finder and Stacks which instantly cleans up your desktop.
The new design makes this Mac lighter than before
The MacBook Air is back and we’re happy to say it’s lost none of its charm.
This hugely popular Mac has been brought back to life with a stunning new lightweight design, improved Retina screen and added extras such as Touch ID and Apple’s Force Touch trackpad.
Fans of this laptop are going to love this update as it takes the concept of power and ultimate portability to a whole new level.
It’s very hard to find a fault with the Air but we do have some small niggles such as the USB-C ports being placed on one side and the fact you’ll need to buy extra adapters if you want to plug in such things as camera SD cards or standard USB devices.
But perhaps our biggest issue with the new Air is its price.
At almost £1,200 this is not a cheap laptop and could mean some are priced out of buying one which would be a terrible shame.
The Air has always offered a way of owning an Apple laptop at a much lower cost than a premium Pro but this update means that’s not really the case anymore – in fact, you can buy the basic MacBook Pro for just £50 more.
If price isn’t a concern and you want a Mac that offers plenty of power without weighing down your bag then you won’t find much better than the new Air.
This iconic device has brought joy to millions over the past 10 years and this update means it’s now back and ready to power us through another decade.