Apple has just delivered some surprise changes in the Mac notebook world. The MacBook Air is getting a True Tone display and a $100 price reduction, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro gets faster processors and $100 off. It seems like a classic story of more for less.
MacBook Air starts at $1,099, or $999 for students
Apple unveiled the redesigned MacBook Air last fall, and this is the first big update. It keeps the 13-inch Retina display but adds True Tone functionality. This enables the color temperature of the display to be adjusted on the fly, and automatically. It makes the display easier on your eyes and is the same tech found in the iPhone.
That display is still encased in an aluminum housing that comes in gold, silver and space gray and features a headphone jack and two USB-C Thunderbolt ports. Don't let the new ports scare you, as there's a slew of adapters and dongles available to support other accessories. The MacBook Air still features Touch ID for easy signing in and to make Apple Pay purchases.
While the thin Butterfly keyboard definitely falls under the personal preference column, Apple has made some tweaks behind the scenes and it should perform better. Hopefully, this means the end of sticky keys -- but in any case, these laptops are part of a warranty program. And macOS is still powered by an eighth-generation dual-core processor from Intel with at least 8GB of RAM.
The base $1,099 model features a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive for storage. If you're eligible for the student discount, you can get this for $999.
13-inch MacBook Pro gets a processor bump and starts at $1,299
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is a similar story. Apple has taken $100 off the price, and these are now powered by the latest quad-core Intel processors, which will undoubtedly deliver faster performance. The other big difference is that it has a Touch Bar, which replaces the physical row of function keys on previous MacBook Pros, and the oh-so-crucial escape key is now digital. Combine this with a 13-inch True Tone Retina display, Touch ID, the power of the Touch Bar, the latest SSDs for storage and a bountiful amount of RAM, and you can expect a speedy experience.
Apple's MacBook Pro still represents the higher-end notebook. These are workhorses that will last for quite some time. The new base $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro features a 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage. With the student discount, it's just $1,199.
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are now the Mac laptop line
And with those two smallish updates, Apple has changed the Mac line. Along with adding these features to the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple has discontinued the 12-inch MacBook and the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro. This move cleans up the line a bit, and there are still good options for back to school -- especially with a MacBook Air starting at $999 with that student discount.
In the meantime, those looking for a 12-inch MacBook, a 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar or the previous MacBook Air will need to scramble for whatever stock is left. We found a few on Amazon.com and B&H Photo.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed prices at the time of publication.