Stop Buying the MacBook Air

OUR VERDICT

While an excellent entry with a stunning new display, the 2019 MacBook Air’s dual-core processor still feels underwhelming. Even with a lower price of admission, it’s still pretty expensive considering its light starting specification and pricey upgrades.

FOR

  • Lovely design
  • Screen is great
  • Fantastic battery life
  • New lower price

AGAINST

  • Underpowered
  • Lack of storage space
  • Pricey to upgrade
  • Only two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Expensive

At long last, the new Apple MacBook Air (2019) is here. After a few blustery years of sitting on the sidelines while the 12-inch MacBook took the spotlight, Apple’s slim and light MacBook is back where it belongs. This is all thanks to Apple jilting its 12-inch MacBook line to make way for a refreshed MacBook Air for 2019.

The question now is, is the Apple MacBook Air (2019) back with a vengeance? It’s more powerful than ever, and also slightly cheaper than last year’s model, which is always a good thing. Still, we’re wondering if it’s good enough to Apple’s vaunted design and build quality to a new audience who have been discouraged by the MacBook Pro’s lofty price?

We tested the refreshed Apple MacBook Air (2019) to find out.

That’s hardly budget territory, but this move does make the MacBook Air more affordably priced than ever before, and seeing prices go down with updates – rather than up – is always a lovely welcome. For comparison’s sake, the MacBook Air (2018) started at $1,199 (£1,199, AU$1,849) when it hit the streets.

The base configuration of the MacBook Air (2019) gives you a 1.6GHz dual-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, 128GB storage and Intel UHD Graphics 617.

You can also purchase a configuration with similar specs, but double the storage at 256GB, which will cost you $1,299 (£1,299, AU$1,999).

That essentially means you’re paying $200/£200/AU$300 more for a 128GB storage increase, which is a pretty pricey upgrade. It’s a bit frustrating that Apple has kept that large jump in price for a fairly small amount of extra storage space. Meanwhile, you can double your iPhone XR storage for just another $50/£50.

It makes much more financial sense to get the 128GB version, and then either buy an external hard drive (check out our piece on the best external hard drives for Macs for options) separately, or use cloud storage like iCloud to save your files.

As is unfortunately typical with Apple’s hardware, there’s no simple way to open up the MacBook Air and upgrade the SSD yourself.

Consequently, while we’re glad to see the price drop for the MacBook Air, shipping a premium – and while the Air is the most affordable MacBook, at this price it’s still premium – laptop with just 128GB of storage seems pretty stingy in 2019 – especially since Apple charges so much more for a slight upgrade in storage space.

One of the main threats to the MacBook Air (2019) is that Windows laptops are now even slimmer and more powerful than ever. Apple no longer has the monopoly on thin and light laptops, as there are a number of Windows-based Ultrabooks that come with similar (or even better) specifications for the same price. And, you can be sure that they all have bigger hard drives than just 128GB. For example, the HP Spectre x360 (2019) is around the same price, but with 256GB storage and an even much faster processor.

The lower entry price of the MacBook Air (2019) is positively welcome, that is if you’re set on owning a MacBook. However, due to some of Apple’s not so pleasing habits are still obvious, and because of increased competition from Windows laptops, there are better value options worth considering.

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