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After launching updated MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks yesterday, Apple also pared down its lineup by discontinuing the 12-inch MacBook and previous-generation MacBook Air. Whether you’re looking to pick up a new Mac for school, work, or general use, read on for a detailed look at how the new MacBook lineup compares.
While the simplification of its notebook offerings may make it easier for consumers to decide which MacBook is the best fit, many 12-inch MacBook users are feeling disappointed as the machine was killed off without any direct replacement (it is still being sold by Amazon and other retailers while stock remains).
In past years, Apple’s MacBook updates haven’t always coincided with its Back to School promotion. This year, buyers won’t have to decide between saving money by going for an outdated MacBook Air design or spending the extra cash on a MacBook Pro.
Not only has the MacBook Air been updated after its major refresh last October with a True Tone display, but Apple has also cut its price by $100, for a new starting price of $1,099 and $999 base price for students and teachers.
Meanwhile, the base 13-inch MacBook Pro (previously the non Touch Bar model) has gained the Touch Bar, Touch ID, True Tone display, and updated 8th-gen Intel quad-core processor for the same $1,299 price ($1,199 for education customers).
Note: If you’re not sure how much computer power you need and will be doing basic tasks like word documents, browsing the web, playing music, watching YouTube, etc. you’ll likely be fine with the MacBook Air. In most cases (not all) if you’ve got a workflow that requires the power of a MacBook Pro, you’ll know. If you’re starting a specific college program or a new job and are on the fence, check in with the appropriate IT department or similar authority.
RAM, processor, storage, and more
Both the 2019 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro come with Touch ID and that also means the whole MacBook lineup now features Apple’s T2 security chip. And the Touch Bar now comes on all MacBook Pro models.
As for processors, the MacBook Air is the only MacBook that comes with a dual-core processor. The latest 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with a quad-core 8th gen i5 processor while the base 15-inch MacBook Pro features a 9th Gen Intel 6-core chip.
Notably, Apple also significantly lowered its SSD upgrade prices with these latest changes. Here’s a detailed look at how these specs stack up.
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro specs comparison
When the previous generation MacBook Air was still around there was a range of I/O going on with Apple’s notebook lineup. Now USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 are the only ports offered on Apple’s MacBooks outside of the 3.5mm headphone jack.
If you’re about to make the switch to a modern MacBook and don’t have one already, you’ll want to pick up a USB-C hub of some sort to keep compatibility with legacy USB-A and other devices.
While it’s not a deal-breaker by any means, the MacBook Air features Bluetooth 4.2 while the Pro notebooks feature Bluetooth 5.0.
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro I/O comparison
With the 2019 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro refresh, all of Apple’s notebooks now feature Retina displays with True Tone tech. You may be used to the feature on your iPad or iPhone. Here’s how Apple describes True Tone:
The True Tone technology in Mac computers uses advanced multichannel sensors to adjust the color and intensity of your display and Touch Bar to match the ambient light so that images appear more natural.
The two main differences between the MacBook Air display and those on the Pro models are 400 vs. 500 nits brightness and P3 wide color support only coming with the MacBook Pros.
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro display comparison
Size and weight
Now that the 12-inch MacBook has been discontinued, the MacBook Air has taken back the title of the lightest Apple notebook. However, for those who may still prioritize form factor and weight over the latest hardware, we’ve included the MacBook’s size and weight specs below.
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Size and Weight Comparison
Keyboard and trackpad
The new MacBook lineup now features roomy Force Touch trackpads and controversially, the revised third-gen butterfly keyboards. Notably, Apple has already added its latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models to its Keyboard Service Program. Many users have experienced sticky keys, unresponsive keys, and keys that register double-presses.
Keep in mind you may experience issues, but it will be covered under Apple’s service program for free repair or keyboard replacement. Aside from reliability issues, if you haven’t used Apple’s butterfly keyboards, and think the feel will be an important factor for you, test one out before committing to buying a new MacBook.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted earlier this month that Apple will switch to a new keyboard with a scissor mechanism in 2020.
The MacBook Air does have the highest rated battery life of the MacBooks with 13 hours of use when it comes to iTunes movie playback and 12 hours of wireless web browsing. The 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks are rated for 10 hours of wireless web browsing and the same 10 hours for iTunes movie playback.
With a simpler MacBook lineup, reduced prices, and improved features you’ll likely have an easier time deciding what notebook is best for you. The new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are available direct from Apple’s website with listings showing up on Amazon and other retailers.
If you’re a teacher or higher education student, be sure to take advantage of Apple’s education pricing and Back to School promotion.
Alternatively, if you don’t really need a new MacBook now and don’t love the butterfly keyboard, waiting until Apple moves to a new scissor mechanism keyboard may be worthwhile.
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