The wait for a new MacBook Air is over. Apple CEO Tim Cook has unveiled a new MacBook Air, the iconic Apple notebook which has almost been forgotten for many years. This is the first major refresh of the MacBook Air since 2015, so it is natural for Apple to go an extra mile to offer something new to consumers.
For starters, the new MacBook Air now sports premium features previously reserved for the high-end MacBook Pro — the ultra-vivid Retina Display, a third-generation Butterfly-style keyboard, Force Touch trackpad and Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Yes, it is thinner and lighter as well. And it is built with 100 per cent recycled aluminium which Apple is calling the “greenest” Mac ever.
The new MacBook Air is an improvement over the previous generation model, but is no longer an affordable option. It starts at Rs 1,14,900 in India, which makes it fall in the category for a premium notebook. I got a chance to try out the new MacBook Air for a brief period of time and here’s my initial impressions.
Apple MacBook Air 2018 first impressions: Looks
Apple has an eye for an exceptional design and the new MacBook Air is no different. I wanted to buy the MacBook Air as soon as I held the machine in my hand for the first time.
This is a well-designed machine that feels premium. The company hasn’t drastically changed the design of the MacBook Air; it still looks a lot like the original model. Though I must say the new MacBook Air appears to be a bigger version of the 12-inch MacBook. In fact, the finish and the aesthetics of the new MacBook Air is identical to the MacBook — the same Retina Display, black-coloured bezels, Force Trackpad and even the butterfly-style keyboard. You can choose the MacBook Air in the same colour options as the 12-inch MacBook: Gold, Space Grey and Silver. What a coincidence!
As you would expect, the new MacBook Air is portable and light, weighing at just 2.75 pounds (versus 2.96 pounds). Apple also touts that the new MacBook Air’s body is made out of 100 per cent recycled aluminum. This new manufacturing process essentially allows for a smaller carbon footprint.
Apple MacBook Air 2018 first impressions: Retina Display
During the launch event, Apple had admitted that the Retina Display was the most requested feature. And here it is. The new MacBook Air sports a 13.3-inch Retina Display, which is an upgrade from the previous LED backlit. With 4 million pixels, the Air’s bezels are 50 per cent thinner, it has 4x the resolution, and 48 per cent more color.
The screen is sharp and bright. While I haven’t tested it yet, I believe this is the same panel what you get on the high-end MacBook Pro.
Apple MacBook Air 2018 first impressions: Butterfly keyboard, Touch ID and Force Touch Trackpad
The butterfly-style keyboard on the new MacBook Air is the same you will find on the high-end, MacBook Pro. It’s comfortable to type on in our limited tests, something I wasn’t sure initially. I also liked the new Force Touch trackpad, which is now 20 per cent larger and has a haptic feedback when you press it.
Apple also claims that the stereo speakers are 25 per cent louder than the old MacBook Air with more bass, but I didn’t get a chance to play an file in my brief testing. Then there’s a three-microphone array, which should offer better listening quality.
The new MacBook Air is also getting Touch ID. You will find Touch ID at the top right corner of the keyboard. We are sure you are familiar with Touch ID. That feature may have disappeared from Apple’s latest iPhones and iPad Pros, but it still got a place on the MacBook Air. What it does is securely allow you to login into websites or make payments with Apple Pay. I wasn’t able to try out how Touch ID works on the MacBook Air. The T2 security chip has also been added to keep the Touch ID data safe, while also providing secure boot and “Hey Siri” support.
Apple MacBook Air 2018 first impressions: Performance, battery life
The new MacBook Air is powered by an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, coupled with 8GB RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. Apple does offer the new MacBook Air in various onboard storage configurations, ranging from 256GB to 1.5TB. In terms of ports, the new MacBook Air only three ports in total, two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and one a headphone jack.
With the new MacBook Air, you can expect up to 13 hours. That’s an improvement over the current-generation MacBook Pro, though we’ll be thoroughly testing these claims in our detailed review.
Apple MacBook Air 2018: Early Verdict
And even with a raised price, the MacBook Air continues to be Apple’s entry-level Mac. This is a top-notch machine and one should be ready to pay a premium to get the features you often cannot get on other notebooks.
In the brief time spent with the new MacBook Air, Apple convinced me that its next-generation notebook is not an underpowered machine despite being ultra-slim and portable.
Disclaimer: The writer is in New York on the invite of Apple India.