Apart from the Mac mini, the first of reviews for the 2018 MacBook Air is also out. Just like the Mac mini, Apple has updated its MacBook Air lineup after years. Unlike the mini though, this update is not meant for pros. So, how good is the new MacBook Air? Find out in our review roundup.
The new MacBook Air is a major revamp from both outside and inside. Externally, it is slimmer and lighter than the outgoing model and packs major upgrades including an edge-to-edge display glass with slimmer bezels, better speakers, and more.
2018 MacBook Air Review Roundup
The publication aptly sums up the capabilities of the 2018 MacBook Air in the below para:
Namely: it’s a computer that will let you do whatever you want, even though some of those things are probably beyond its capabilities. It won’t say “no” when you want to open 20 tabs and eight apps and then edit a photo. (Though, sometimes, with a fan and spinning beachball, it will say “uncle.”) Most of all, it’s a computer that is familiar. It does everything you expect in a way that you’re used to.
The new 2560 x 1600 Retina Display is great to look at but at 300 nits, it simply does not get bright enough.
There is one knock on the screen, though: it doesn’t get as bright as I would like. The spec on it is a max of 300 nits, but the important thing to know is you’ll be cranking up the brightness to near 100 percent more often. I haven’t had a problem viewing this screen, even in bright rooms, but I do have a vague worry that it’s affecting my battery life to have it cranked up higher.
Don’t be fooled by that Core i5 dual-core processor. It is actually a Y-series chip from Intel which is not as fast as what that Core i5 moniker would suggest.
So let me just bottom line it: this new MacBook Air is faster than the old MacBook Air, but not by the kind of margin you’d expect after three years (or even one, if you happened to buy the 2017 model). You can do all of the same stuff you can do on your current Air. I have been running a half-dozen apps at a time along with more than a dozen tabs in Chrome, and everything is pretty okay. I think for what most people will do with this laptop, it’s fine. The base $1,199 model comes with 8GB of RAM (which is enough for most people) and 128GB of storage (which is not).
The 2018 MacBook Air is the Mac of the present.
Now, the wait is over. But if you were hoping that lightning would strike twice and this new MacBook Air would be as revolutionary as the old MacBook Air, well, it’s not. It’s basically a MacBook that finally includes all of the stuff that has been happening with laptops for the past few years. It is on par with the rest of the laptop world, but it hasn’t moved beyond it. Sometimes that means the fan is going to spin up on you.
The new MacBook Air is meant for existing MacBook Air customers who are looking for an upgrade for quite some time now.
That’s the thing: A lot of the components in the brand new MacBook Air are not actually new. Like the display—I have stared at some version of this Retina display for a long time now. But for true MacBook Air lovers, that won’t matter. This is a machine that grew stale and cruised solely on its reputation for a long time. Now, it’s ready for reinvention. Well, sort of. It’s more accurate to say that it has caught up with the times.
There’s no need to worry about the third-generation Butterfly keyboard on the 2018 MacBook Air.
So far, I haven’t had any problems with the keyboard on the Air. I like that it’s quieter. I don’t miss the TouchBar, a touch-sensitive strip of shortcuts, emoji, and apps that floats above the keyboard on MacBook Pros. The new Air’s trackpad is also larger than its previous incarnation, and is the recipient of Apple’s unfortunately-named pressure-sensitive touch technology, Force Touch.
Depending on your workload, the new MacBook Air will either do just fine or will be grossly underpowered.
That’s a lot of chip speak, but here’s what it really means: If you’re someone who builds graphics, edits 4K videos, or processes large photos for a living, the Air isn’t going to cut it. It will, however, handle 15 to 20 browser tabs at once, let you edit photos in Lightroom without any hiccups, and keep ten apps running smoothly at once. I know because I’m doing all of this right now as I type.
The 2018 MacBook Air does not live up to Apple’s claims of offering up to 12 hours of web browsing on a single charge, but it will easily last 6-7 hours on a single charge.
If your work day is around eight-hours, then sure. I cycled through the laptop’s battery life a few times. All of theses tests involved me shutting the laptop at some point to sleep, the waking it up and resuming, rather than running it down for many hours straight.
The new Air is not really innovative in any way, but given its $1,199 price tag, I doubt Apple ever intended it to be.
Apple has heard the calls for a newer, better MacBook Air, and it has answered. Thank goodness for that. But one might get the sneaking suspicion, as she stares at the gorgeous, liquid-looking display of this new machine, that such a laptop could have arrived two years ago. Or more. The new MacBook Air is not pure innovation; it’s an incantation composed to make you think it is.
The new MacBook Air is meant to handle everyday tasks, don’t expect anything else from it.
After using the MacBook Air for a few days, though, I think I can tell where the money went. This is a laptop that can handle the everyday tasks of modern “computing” with aplomb, but push it beyond that and you’ll run into its limitations pretty quickly. That’s not unexpected for something that isn’t a “pro” level machine, but if you widen your view beyond Apple’s walled garden, you can see other laptops, even cheaper laptops, that provide comparable experiences.
That wasn’t typical performance — most of the time the MacBook Air managed to keep up with my actions, but here and there you could tell it was struggling: an extra second to switch between apps, a touch more confusion about the resolution of an external monitor, a spinning beach ball lasting longer than usual. Not deal-breakers, by any means, but as they add up, they get more noticeable.
You will definitely not have to worry about the new butterfly keyboard.
The keyboard on the MacBook Air is definitely the best experience I’ve had typing on a butterfly Mac. Even though this is technically the same design keyboard as in the 2018 MacBook Pros, I felt the experience was a bit quieter, with a tad more overall machine stability with every keystroke. I suspect that’s most likely due to the overall size of the machine, though it could simply be personal bias (I tend to prefer smaller machines). In any case, it’s a better experience than the second-gen butterfly keyboard on the mid-2017 MacBook Pro I use for work.
That display brightness, however, is going to be a cause of concern.
Sure, three cheers for Retina and all that, but this is table stakes for today — especially for Apple. Yes, the display is gorgeous, and, yes, photos and videos look great on it, but it’s also relatively weak in another department: brightness. Whereas the MacBook Pro can get as bright as 500 nits, the new MBA maxes out at 300.
Don’t get me wrong: that’s not at all dim by today’s standards, but if you happen to use your laptop either in bright sunlight or under studio lights, you’ll notice.
What do you think about the new MacBook Air? Do you plan to upgrade to it from your existing Air? Drop a comment and let us know!