MacBook Air Overview Updated March 26, 2021

MacBook Air

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506 'MacBook Air' stories

October 2010 - April 2021

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is “the default Mac” – the one you should buy if you’re not sure which model you need.

History

The MacBook Air was launched in 2008 as a premium 13-inch model, billed as the world’s thinnest laptop. It was dramatically revealed by Steve Jobs sliding it out of an office envelope.

In 2010, it was joined by an 11-inch model. By 2011, that had become the entry-level MacBook, replacing the plain MacBook in the lineup. Its combination of affordability, portability, cuteness, and suitability for most people’s computer usage saw it become a hugely popular machine with everyone from students to senior business execs.

The 11-inch MacBook Air was discontinued in 2016, leaving only the 13-inch models.

In 2018, we saw the first major update to the then-elderly design. This gave the machine a Retina display, Touch ID, USB-C ports along with a design refresh with smaller bezels, a slimmer form factor, and lighter weight.

In 2020, the MacBook Air was one of the first three machines to make the switch from Intel processors to Apple Silicon in the form of the M1 chip.

MacBook Air Specs

The 2020 MacBook Air is powered by an 8-core Apple M1 chip, comprising four performance cores and four efficiency cores. It’s available in two almost-identical versions, one with an 8-core GPU, the other with a (chip-binned) 7-core one.

The machine is available with either 8GB or 16GB of unified memory. SSD storage options are 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB.

The machine supports 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 as well as 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. It can drive one external monitor of up to 6K resolution at 60Hz.

The MacBook Air has two USB-C ports that support USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB 4, and Thunderbolt 3.

Battery life is described as up to 15 hours of web browsing or 18 hours of movie viewing, and reviews suggest that real-life usage approaches the claimed life.

Pricing

MacBook Air (2020) pricing starts at $999 for the 7-core GPU with 8GB unified memory and 256GB SSD. The 8-core GPU model comes with the same 8GB unified memory, but a 512GB SSD, at $1,249.

The machine can be specced up as far as 16GB unified memory and 2TB SSD for $2,049.

Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.

MacBook Air Review

In our video review of the machine, we described it as game-changing.

There is very little negative to say about these MacBooks. Apple has taken a design like the MacBook Air, which it more or less perfected with the early 2020 refresh, and made it 10 times better. This is no hyperbole. These M1-powered MacBooks are such a huge improvement in performance and battery life with virtually no negative baggage. I can’t see myself ever wanting to go back to an Intel-based laptop […]

If I was using an Intel-based MacBook Air, I wouldn’t even consider using a machine with such little memory to handle my day-to-day creative workflow, but Apple’s implementation of unified memory cannot be compared 1:1 with typical RAM configurations.

Basic day-to-day usage is relatively unaffected by the amount of RAM, or lack thereof. The MacBook Air is competent with only 8GB of RAM even when running lots of apps simultaneously, even with a dozen Safari windows, and even when swapping out to the SSD […]

I can attest to the fact that these MacBooks have incredibly long battery life, so much so that it was honestly hard to believe initially. I was able to use my MacBook Air for a full workday, writing, browsing the web, chatting on zoom, and editing video and photos, and the machine was only at 50% by the end of the day. I woke up the next day, and did several hours of zoom video calls and web browsing, and the machine finally gave me a warning to plug in when it reached 10%

Deals

Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the MacBook Air and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.

MacBook Air Stories April 9

The Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock is the latest incarnation of what used to be Henge Docks. Brydge acquired the company back in 2019 and has continued to develop new models since then.

The concept of a laptop dock has been around for decades now. The basic idea is that you use the laptop as a standalone machine when mobile, then snap it into a dock when you return to your desk, to effectively turn it into a desktop computer. There are, though, two different takes on the idea …

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MacBook Air Stories March 30

An Apple patent granted today describes a MacBook with a solid-state keyboard using an all-touch surface which can be reconfigured as the user desires.

A user working with numbers might opt for a large numeric keyboard, for example, while an artist might instead choose a large area for drawing …

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MacBook Air Stories March 23

Apple has long been on a mission to make MacBooks ever thinner, and a new patent granted today describes how a retractable keyboard could help.

Earlier patents suggest that Apple’s long-term goal is a completely solid-state keyboard, which uses electrostatic charges to allow users to “feel” keys so that touch-typing remains possible, and haptic motors to simulate key presses for the feel of a physical keyboard …

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MacBook Air Stories March 8

Apple’s M1 MacBooks bring some major performance gains and at first glance, the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro seem quite similar. They have the same CPU/GPU, same ports, same FaceTime camera, and more. However, let’s take a closer look at the M1 MacBook Air vs Pro to see what differentiates the two to help you decide which to buy.

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MacBook Air Stories February 25

Apple has released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2. to the public today with a fix for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air users. Apple says the update “prevents” certain models from “incurring damage” when they are connected to third-party USB-C hubs and docks.

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MacBook Air Stories February 23

One day after it started selling the refurbished M1 MacBook Pro, Apple has also now started selling the M1 MacBook Air via its Certified Refurbished store. The M1 MacBook Air starts at $849 in refurbished condition, a savings of $150.

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