So we've got the new 2019 MacBook Air here, in this, A really nice rose gold color. Like, actually, wow, I kinda forgot how much I really like this color. Anyway, I'm reviewing it for The Verge, even though it is a pretty minor update.
Now, the MacBook Air and I mean the classic one that everybody had, not last year's model. It was the default laptop. So here's a question. Can the new version of this new design live up to this laptop?
It's good. Still good, technically, since what's different this year compared to last year, when Apple released the first version of this new design is actually not that much. In fact, I can explain it in just three bullet points.
- The keyboard has been tweaked, again, for reliability, with those new materials that Apple's been talking about.
- The True Tone display is new, so that's nice. It matches the color temperature of the room.
- It costs a hundred bucks less. That's it.
MacBook Air still has a similar Y-series processor that's fast enough to do most day-to-day tasks. But it can slow down on heavy stuff like video and photo editing. Or even just having too many apps and tabs open. It still gets about seven or eight hours of active use in my testing, it still uses USB-C to charge. And it still has a super convenient Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Plus, a really nice, big Force Touch trackpad. The screen looks great, and I really prefer screens that have True Tone. Plus, thanks to a software update for the Air line that came earlier this year, it can get just a little bit brighter, up to 400 nits.
But that's not as bright as what the MacBook Pros can do. Also, just FYI, the webcam is pretty bad. But let's admit the obvious. You're wondering about the keyboard. Well, what can I really tell you? My first impression is that it's the same as last year. It's a little bit softer and quieter than earlier MacBook Pro models.
Now some people don't like typing on this style of keyboard, because it's so shallow, but the truth is, like, I kinda like it. Cool, right, fine.
Whatever, what about reliability? Well, I just can't say. I don't know. These are the style of the new materials of the Butterfly switches, so that should help with reliability. And it's covered under Apple's extended keyboard warranty, so that must make you feel better too. But at this point, these keyboards have been so hit or miss, it's safe to say that you're taking at least a small chance until we know how these new materials are gonna work. Or until Apple just switches to another design. That's pretty much, what there's to say about this new revision of the MacBook Air.
But the thing that you should know is, there are plenty of Windows laptops at around the same price point as this machine that beat it on any number of metrics. So you can log in with your face, you can get an edge-to-edge screen, or you can get a faster processor. But none of those Windows laptops have the overall build quality or fit and finish of this MacBook Air. Setting aside the keyboard, of course. But more importantly, for a lot of people, those Windows laptops, they're not Macs. So the fact that I think that, this is a pretty good laptop is a big deal.
It really needs to be pretty good, because it's the main option for a lot of people, who want to use a Mac laptop. Which brings me all the way back around to the question, we asked at the top. Is this the one? Is it the default?
The answer to that totally depends on your needs. The advice that I always give about technology still applies. If you need a new computer, buy the best one that you can afford. If you don't, you should wait. You'll save money, and there's always a better computer coming around next year. But that advice only works in technology if the product cycles are predictable. And the Mac has been super unpredictable.
First, Apple took forever to update anything on any Mac. Then, it started updating the Macs, but it wasn't providing yearly spec-bump updates, which makes the whole line feel more consistent. Then, they started doing that, but they keep changing the iteration of the keyboard with every new release, to try and fix that reliability problem. It's infuriating. you know what's going to happen with the iPhone. There will be a new one in September. And that means, don't buy one after, I don't know, May or so.
But do you know what's gonna happen next for the Mac? Probably not. Maybe they'll fix the keyboard. Or, maybe Intel will get its act together and finally deliver a much better processor. Or hell, I don't know, maybe Apple will finally switch to ARM processors. The point is, you can't predict, which makes it harder to decide what to buy right now, if you need a computer. Plus, on top of that, you also know in the back of your mind that you could spend $200 more and get the new MacBook Pro that got announced next to this thing, which has a better screen and a better processor, and a Touch Bar, and it's a little bit thicker.
But whatever. Do you see what's happening here? Instead of me, just saying, yep, this is the default. There are a bunch of ifs, and maybes, and caveats to worry about. Now, I know that, that is always the way with tech. But it was never the way with the classic MacBook Air. This wasn't just the default for Mac users. It was pretty much the default laptop for almost everybody. And I don't think that this MacBook Air has earned that title yet. It's very good, but it's not the default.