Those of us considering purchasing a new MacBook this year were relieved when Apple announced a second fall event for October, which treated us to a brand new MacBook Air option to consider. That's right! After languishing for years, the Air now has a modern option that easily keeps pace with the latest 12" MacBook.
But which is the right option for you? Should you get the original version of the MacBook, a smaller model that starts at $1,299? Or should you preorder the MacBook Air, which begins at $1,199?
We're going to help you decide. But first, let's take a look at exactly how these two MacBook models compare. Continue reading to learn about 6 important factors to consider.
6 Screen Size
If you like a lot of display real estate, you'll love the changes to the Air, which has received a new 13" Retina display. This wasn't a huge surprise. The old MacBook Air was long past deserving a Retina upgrade, so the screen improvement makes a lot of sense and it's a great reward for those who tend to use their MacBooks for lots of entertainment-oriented activities. The MacBook keeps its 12" Retina screen, making this a choice between a smaller/lighter physical size vs the benefits of a larger display.
5 Enhanced Design and New Features
The Air also received many utility-oriented improvements to its somehow-even-slimmer design. The Butterfly keyboard got an upgrade that should make it more stable and durable. The speakers are 25% louder, and the trackpad is now 20% larger. Touch ID and Siri are now directly built into the laptop for easier use. There is no option for the Touch Bar. The combination of solid upgrades like Touch ID and the enhanced keyboard appear to put the 2018 MacBook Air above the 12" MacBook.
The MacBook Air comes with two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can do a little bit of everything, including data transfer, native DisplayPort compatibility, and charging other devices. The 12" MacBook offers one UCB-C port. So, do you want two or one? If you like to connect accessories, two USB-C ports are certainly better than one.
When it comes to storage, the 12" MacBook has an edge over the Air. It provides enough room to upgrade up to 512GB of SSD storage. The new Air can only go up to 256GB of SSD storage. Obviously there's a lot of factors at play here, including whether or not you have an external hard drive and how much you rely on cloud computing, but for sheer internal storage, the 12" MacBook easily comes out on top.
2 Internal Specs
The new base model Air gained a 1.6GHz dual-core 8th gen Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM (no RAM upgrade is available).
The 12" MacBook starts with a 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m3, and 8GB of RAM upgradable to 16GB. That makes the 12" MacBook slower than the Air overall, but with upgradable space for RAM. Overall we'd take the better processor of the Air, but this is another situation where needs can vary.
The Air has a physically larger battery than the 12" MacBook. And so, the Air gets about 2 hours more battery life, during typical online work, than the MacBook. There are a ton of factors to take into account here, but the Air's battery will last longer.
✓ Conclusion – Storage Space vs. Features
The 2018 MacBook Air offers great features and significant upgrades over the 12" MacBook. It's a basic leapfrog scenario. For most users, the choice is going to be an easy one. The new processor and upgrade to a better Retina display are particularly strong points. Barring any unforeseen bugs (and we'll let you know if that happens), the new Air is looking like a great bet.
However, there are a couple advantages to the 12" MacBook that buyers should think about. The 12" MacBook is thinner and lighter than the Air, and it's also nearly an inch shorter. This makes it easier to fit in bags and laptop sleeves.
Second, the storage upgrade is nice to have if you really depend on internal storage. Not every MacBook user needs lots of internal storage, especially with alternatives available today. But some may still find themselves in situations where they need to keep a lot of photos, videos, games and more on their computer, and having that larger SSD might trump many other features.
If you're dreaming of an ultra-portable laptop that can hold all of your data and more, you'll want the 12" MacBook.
But, if you'd like to save $100 and gain Touch ID alongside a larger display, you'll want to get the new MacBook Air. At this point in time, we think the new MacBook Air is the better choice between the two.