2018 MBA - From an owner who didn't want one!

0014

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 23, 2016
956
590
Middle East
Firstly the aim of this post is not to conflict with other peoples experiences. I thought I would post up as i've made it known in a few posts that I would not buy the 2018 MBA. So I have been looking very hard for faults in comparison to my previous MBP. This post is to hopefully provide people with an objective real world view from someone who never wanted to buy the 2018 MBA being a 2015 13" rMBP owner.

I was 'forced' into the purchase when my 3yr old accidentally spilt her juice over my MBP. I still intend to get the MBP back up and running. But I need to do a bit of soldering and I'm waiting to get hold of some contact cleaner (I live in the middle east so it's a bit of a struggle to get some things).

Anyway, 2 wks ago I bought a space grey 2018 MBA 256/8 as it would be a 6-8wk wait for a 16gb version and I needed a laptop. A lot of my work stuff is on Pages and Keynote. Although I do also use word and powerpoint I prefer the former. Also the MBP are too expensive here (approx 35% higher) and they don't sell the nTB 2017 version. I don't like the TouchBar so my choice was limited to MB or MBA. MB is too small for me. The MBA is also more expensive but it's only around £100 more not the £600+ more for the 2018 MBP!

So to my thoughts.

When I bought the machine I set it up clean, updated to macOS 10.14.3 Beta 2 and manually reinstalled all apps fresh. All my docs etc are backed up to iCloud Drive or OneDrive for work. So no need for any Time Machine restore. So my findings are all on macOS 10.14.3 Beta 2

CPU Power: I have not had a single issue so far with this machine regards to processing power. I have not changed my usage in any way so I didn't expect too given that it performs slightly higher in Geekbench in comparison to my 2015 rMBP. Quite an achievement considering the processor in my MBP is a 2.9ghz vs the 1.6ghz in the MBA. Both machines had 8gb of Ram.

My typical use is report writing and presentation making, emails, safari, the odd photo/video edit, music streaming and the odd film when travelling around.

I have noticed, only because I tested it, that once the battery drops to 5% or lower then CPU is throttled. Here is a Geekbench test on Battery at 4% followed immediately when connected back to the power. Note I didn't notice any difference in performance. I did the test purely out of curiosity to see if any throttling occurred.

Screenshot 2019-01-03 at 12.37.35.png
Screenshot 2019-01-03 at 12.45.14.png


GPU Power: Personally I don't game on a laptop and you would be foolish to buy a MBA and then complain you can't play games. I have an XBOX One X Project Scorpio edition for games. But otherwise I have not had any graphical issues or glitches. Scrolling etc through documents and my photos app (which has over 212gb of photo and video) is smooth.

RAM: Again no issues. My MBP had 8gb 1867mhz ram and this has 8gb 2133mhz ram. Never had any memory pressure issues and at most I end up with max 400mb of swap and compressed use. No different to what i would get on the 2015MBP. Out of interest my wife has my old 2012 MBP which has 16gb ram and that also uses swap and compresses memory.

Battery: The battery on this thing is INSANE in comparison to my MBP. My MBP I would need to charge daily. The MBA I am charging every 2-3 days. I get around 10-12hrs actual use (depending on what i do). But the things i have noticed.

Drain in use: Is a lot slower than on the MBP. No idea why as the machines are identical in terms of apps and settings
Drain when lid closed/sleeping: The MBP would lose around 10% overnight whilst asleep. The MBA loses 1-2%.
Here is an example showing how long the machine has been on battery.

Screenshot 2019-01-03 at 12.25.15.png


Health wise all seems ok so far, as you would expect

Screenshot 2019-01-03 at 12.25.58.png


Screen quality and brightness: I know this is a contentious issue. I don't use my MBA (or MBP) outside. However in work I have a large window directly behind me and being the Mid East it's often very sunny. I have not found a single issue with the screen in terms of quality or brightness. Films look just as good as on my MBP (they should given the screens are the same) I am currently sat at my desk and this is the level my screen is at.

Screenshot 2019-01-03 at 13.20.55.png


I use Shift+Option and the brightness to control the brightness in 1/4 increments. (You can do the same with volume). But I also have it set on Auto and only interfere if I find it is too bright or too low. I have yet to find a time where I have needed full brightness. The most I have had is 3 notches from full.

The one thing I did do was alter the white point to 7250 which made it looker a better white to me. But other than that the screen is set to auto.

Keyboard: Again another contentious issue. But as yet I haven't had any issues. I am deliberately trying to type lighter than I did on the MBP as I do wonder if, given the time it can take to adapt, some of the keyboard issues are caused by excess pressure for the type of mechanism? Just a thought I've been having since using this keyboard. Will see how it holds up as it is quite dusty out here at times. So will be interesting to see how the keyboard fares over the coming months.

TouchID: This for me is awesome. I have a S0 Apple Watch. But I hardly use it as I keep my Garmin on my wrist most of the time. So TouchID is a welcome way for logging in quickly.

T2 Chip: No issues as yet and i have purposely been trying to replicate what others have done. Ive left it plugged in all night and closed the lid, left external drives plugged in and closed the lid, again no issues as yet. One thing I do like about the T2 is that I can have file vault on or off and it happens near instantaneously. On my MBP, even though it had a 512gb SSD installed. It would take hours to encrypt/decrypt.

Speaker Quality: For such a thin device the speakers are indeed impressive. I am a bit of an audiophile and am very picky about sound. Now you don't buy any laptop for sound quality as you'd be daft to. But the quality of the speakers in this machine are very very good for the size.

Ports: This is the one area so far that irks me. I managed to get the store I bought the MBA from to throw in a free apple USB-C to USB adapter for me and I bought a second one. So at least I don't have any issues connecting my external drives to the machine.

I do think Apple should throw at least one of these adapters in with the machine, given the price we are paying for them.

I will probably get something like this in the near future as I do sometimes connect to my TV via HDMI and also Ethernet for tinkering with the router.

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Lenovo-Aluminum-Adapter-Compatible-Devices/dp/B07DCQ3FBL/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1546516047&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=USB-C+Hub&refinements=p_89:Lenovo&psc=1

Overall: Overall i have been pleasantly surprised with this machine. I really wanted to find fault with it but i haven't. Yes of course i could if i started to use it in a way it's not intended (serious video/photo editing or trying to play games etc). But if you need a Mac that allows you to type documents, deliver presentations, send receive emails and consume media in the form of films, audio streaming and internet. Then, as much as it pains me to admit I was wrong, this machine is indeed perfect.

I will likely hand this down to my wife after WWDC this year and get the latest 13" MBP. But at the moment I am very happy with it.
 

Ghost31

macrumors 68030
Jun 9, 2015
2,567
3,399
Finally, someone using the air that doesn’t edit 8k video for Hollywood movie studios while also using photoshop and safari with 30 tabs open.

I’m loving mine too. The screen brightness issue just confused me. I have never looked at my screen and thought it was too dim or bad quality. And I keep mine at about 60%
 

ascender

macrumors 68030
Dec 8, 2005
2,564
581
I've had zero issues with mine and I just love the form factor, even compared to my old MBP which I thought was a great balance of power v portability. Its more than capable enough for everything I need to do, very portable and this is a really minor point, but the tapered edges are much nice than those on the current MBP which I always thought felt a bit unfinished.

Port wise it would be nice to have one on the right hand side, but with the battery lasting all of a business day I've just been charging it overnight.

And the screen is more than bright enough for me.
 
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lpolarityl

macrumors 6502
Dec 1, 2009
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Ohio
Refreshing post indeed. The complaints were getting really nit picky around here. First it was the screen not being bright enough, or that it was only $100 cheaper than last years nTB MBP, or that it is slow in editing huge 4K projects, or that it doesn't have a bigger charger, it has a low wattage Y series processor so its trash, it has a smaller touch pad so the touch pad is now useless, blah blah blah. It's nice to see someone actually USE it and report their findings on it. Seeing thread after thread of speculation backed complaints or people saying "I looked at it in the Apple Store, here's my thoughts....", etc., it gets annoying and tiring.

I have no issues to report with mine so far. All that you stated is true on my part as well. I've never let it get below 10% so I didn't notice any throttling, but it does make sense to throttle below a certain percentage; gives you extra time to find an outlet to get it charged.
 

auxbuss

macrumors regular
Feb 18, 2014
167
135
UK
I didn't expect to buy one either. My spare machine died just before the Apple announcement, so I hung on until Black Friday and grabbed the base model at 15% discount – and I do believe 1,000-1,050 is the correct price.

I've been delighted with the MBA. It basically does what I expected. The only surprises are the battery life, which are as the OP says, are reliably 10+ hrs – I've had >14 hrs a couple of times – and TouchId, which I thought would be a gimmick, but turned out to be one of those little things I'd hate to lose now.

Because of its portability, I'm kind of using it instead of the iPad – apart from reading books. I'd definitely prefer the MBA to an iPad + keyboard combo now.
 

kreasonos

macrumors 6502
Dec 4, 2013
269
235
I didn't expect to buy one either. My spare machine died just before the Apple announcement, so I hung on until Black Friday and grabbed the base model at 15% discount – and I do believe 1,000-1,050 is the correct price.

I've been delighted with the MBA. It basically does what I expected. The only surprises are the battery life, which are as the OP says, are reliably 10+ hrs – I've had >14 hrs a couple of times – and TouchId, which I thought would be a gimmick, but turned out to be one of those little things I'd hate to lose now.

Because of its portability, I'm kind of using it instead of the iPad – apart from reading books. I'd definitely prefer the MBA to an iPad + keyboard combo now.
Isn't it amazing how the ipad pro with keyboard is an inferior form factor yet it's touted as the next best thing? It's inferior to a standard laptop in terms of form factor. Try laying in bed and typing a paper with an ipad and a keyboard cover vs a laptop.
 
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MacRazySwe

macrumors 6502a
Aug 7, 2007
813
501
Mine is perfect as well.

- Handles everything I've thrown at it with ease. Super smooth!
- Form factor is fantastic, so thin and light.
- Battery life is insanely good.
- Touch ID without the stupid Touch Bar. Just what I've been waiting for!
- It's completely silent and cool to the touch, unlike my previous MBP.

Screen brightness was never really a problem to begin with, for me.

The only thing I dislike is the port situation. I get the purpose of having one cable for everything. In practice, the USB-C cable itself is super annoying to connect and will most certainly cause scratches to the chassis. It also sticks like crazy, making it difficult to remove.

All in all, the 2018 MacBook Air is just the laptop I've been waiting for. It's so good that I sold my iMac today, and will use this as my main computer.
 

Ghost31

macrumors 68030
Jun 9, 2015
2,567
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Isn't it amazing how the ipad pro with keyboard is an inferior form factor yet it's touted as the next best thing? It's inferior to a standard laptop in terms of form factor. Try laying in bed and typing a paper with an ipad and a keyboard cover vs a laptop.
Glad someone said it. I was one of those people that were trying to "replace their laptop with the iPad + ASK" but omgggg. It grew old. For the past few years I've been doing workarounds and trying to adjust my workflow and outright not being able to do things, but because I liked the iPad so much I tried to bear through it. Then the new air came out and it felt right. Just within the first few minutes of opening it up and using it I was like "why was I torturing myself trying to make the iPad work for all those years? This is so much better and for the same price".

I will never miss a floppy non back lit keyboard or the lack of a touchpad or not even being able to do basic stuff like open the same app twice. Editing two notes side by side? Impossible.

I think more iPad people should move on over to a Mac of some sort.
 

Mainsail

macrumors 65816
Sep 19, 2010
1,137
980
OP, thanks so much for the post. My 2014 MBA has some more life in it, but when it quits, I plan on updating to the new MBA. There has been so much complaining lately on MR that it is refreshing for someone to take the time to give a positive review. People are more likely to post complaints than compliments.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate getting useful information about potential problems with new devices, and there are going to be defective units in any large production run. The problem is getting context around these problems. Some of the post on MR are so hyperbolic that it is impossible to evaluate what is real and what is not. I do think Apple is struggling with the reliability of the butterfly keyboard mechanism, and it appears that the problem has persisted somewhat with the gen 3 keyboards in the MacBook Pros. I hope the MBA doesn't have this problem.....time will tell.
 

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
577
Congrats to everybody that is happy with it's new MBA but I decided to buy the 2017 MBA two weeks ago that cost about half the money of a 2018 MBA with the options I like on a new 2018 notebook that should last for some years (16GB RAM, 512 GB SSD).

The 2017 MBA (and even the 2015 MBA) has about the same CPU/GPU performance as the 2018 MBA but it has still all the necessary ports without dongles or hubs, still has MagSafe and a SD-card reader and has a brighter display with a better camera. A completely new generation of a MBA after 7 years should be much better in every regard, this one demands for too many compromises. With half the money spend I could upgrade earlier to a really improved MBA with a ARM CPU and Apple GPU which might arrive in 2020. This Y CPU that has nothing to do with an i5 is simply not appropriate for a $2000 notebook in 2019. My $400 Intel NUC with the 8gen quad core i5 and Iris Plus 655 GPU runs circles around this 2018 MBA!
 
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Ghost31

macrumors 68030
Jun 9, 2015
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3,399
Congrats to everybody that is happy with it's new MBA but I decided to buy the 2017 MBA two weeks ago that cost about half the money of a 2018 MBA with the options I like on a new 2018 notebook that should last for some years (16GB RAM, 512 GB SSD).

The 2017 MBA (and even the 2015 MBA) has about the same CPU/GPU performance as the 2018 MBA but is has still all the necessary ports without dongles or hubs, still has MagSafe and a SD-card reader and has a brighter display with a better camera. With half the money spend I could upgrade earlier to a really improved MBA with a ARM CPU and Apple GPU which might arrive in 2020. This Y CPU that has nothing to do with an i5 is simply not appropriate for a $2000 notebook in 2019. My $400 Intel NUC with the 8gen quad core i5 and Iris Plus 655 GPU runs circles around the 2018 MBA!
I’m happy you came to a decision that was best for you

...having said that. But that screen is so uglyyyyyyyy. The air screen was unacceptable years ago. In 2019? I don’t know how anyone’s eyes can handle that low res screen without going legally blind

But like I said. I’m happy for you. I just hope your eyeballs are ok
 
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AlexJoda

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Apr 8, 2015
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I’m happy you came to a decision that was best for you

...having said that. But that screen is so uglyyyyyyyy. The air screen was unacceptable years ago. In 2019? I don’t know how anyone’s eyes can handle that low res screen without going legally blind

But like I said. I’m happy for you. I just hope your eyeballs are ok
No problems with the display so far...For the light work on the road it is absolutely OK. If I need to do some more serious work at home I use my calibrated 27" 1440p display with 99% RGB. A 13" display is always a pain to work with regardless of the resolution....(besides: because of the bad anti-aliasing the display is only bad in MacOS. With Windows it is perfectly fine. Seems that Apple wants to push customers to buy the Retina devices...)
 
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Tozovac

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Jun 12, 2014
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I’m happy you came to a decision that was best for you

...having said that. But that screen is so uglyyyyyyyy. The air screen was unacceptable years ago. In 2019? I don’t know how anyone’s eyes can handle that low res screen without going legally blind

But like I said. I’m happy for you. I just hope your eyeballs are ok
Like things in life, it's all so relative. One person's uglyyyyyyy is another's perfectly applicable compromise of value that meets function and without so much as a stutter step of concern over not having the latest and greatest at higher cost.

It's that type of must-have-latest-push-the-boundaries that's gotten Apple into the form-first thinner-is-better mindset that's blinded too many to realize that Apple products are no longer the well-balanced it-just-works machines of before. Now they're more one-upper fashion statements first and foremost.
 
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0014

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 23, 2016
956
590
Middle East
Jumping in to ask, why do you use a Garmin watch now instead of the Series 4?
I use a Tatcix Charlie.

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/623921

Battery life of around 10-11 days with the following.

24/7 Heart rate (polling every 10mins or so like the Watch)
1hr run using HR & GPS (full time HR tracking in an activity and the GPS is also using Glonass and Galileo set on high accuracy) you can change the accuracy to increase battery life if you want. In high accuracy mode it will go for around 24hrs constant on the latest firmware.
Tracks my sleep at night
Built in maps which are actually pretty useful.
Built in Altimeter, Barometer and Compass
I get all the notifications I get on an Apple Watch.
I can answer a call on it, although it’s only to answer it and use the phone.
Gives you your location in both MGRS and UTM simultaneously. Will also do Lat/Long
Has a few features that are useful for my job being military.

What it doesn’t do the the Watch does is

Allow responding to notifications if you’re an iPhone user. Android you can.
Answer phone calls and talk through the watch
Support Pay
Unlock macOS
Need charging daily!

Think that’s about it. The biggest driver for changing was battery life. The functionality was near identical for me. I only ever read notifications on my S0. I never replied via the watch. Same with calls and I found it very sluggish. I know the new watches are a lot faster. But  need to sort out the battery life. I had a Suunto Spartan sport which had a touchscreen and that still managed around 5-6 days on a charge.
 
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fokmik

macrumors 68040
Oct 28, 2016
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Apple watch will never reach more than 3-4 days battery life
Besides what it do Apple wants to sell it as a "fashion device"
Only when you look at 10mm thickness vs 18mm you see what every company wants from their device
 

Dodgeman

macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2016
1,251
189
I normally keep the 2018 air screen about 3 or 4 from max brightness so far inside. I am testing it now to see if I like the way it functions.
 

lambertjohn

macrumors 65816
Jun 17, 2012
1,025
1,006
Congrats to everybody that is happy with it's new MBA but I decided to buy the 2017 MBA two weeks ago that cost about half the money of a 2018 MBA with the options I like on a new 2018 notebook that should last for some years (16GB RAM, 512 GB SSD).

The 2017 MBA (and even the 2015 MBA) has about the same CPU/GPU performance as the 2018 MBA but it has still all the necessary ports without dongles or hubs, still has MagSafe and a SD-card reader and has a brighter display with a better camera. A completely new generation of a MBA after 7 years should be much better in every regard, this one demands for too many compromises. With half the money spend I could upgrade earlier to a really improved MBA with a ARM CPU and Apple GPU which might arrive in 2020. This Y CPU that has nothing to do with an i5 is simply not appropriate for a $2000 notebook in 2019. My $400 Intel NUC with the 8gen quad core i5 and Iris Plus 655 GPU runs circles around this 2018 MBA!
But the display on your 2017 Air...it's like something out of the Stone Age. As a writer, I'll take the new Air all day long over yours, regardless of the "supposed" negatives you mentioned. It's a fabulous computer, IMO.
 

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
577
But the display on your 2017 Air...it's like something out of the Stone Age. As a writer, I'll take the new Air all day long over yours, regardless of the "supposed" negatives you mentioned. It's a fabulous computer, IMO.
If you are a writer and working for longer periods with the build in display I can fully understand your point of view. My daughter is using the built in display only occasionally e.g. for presenting something at the university but did the real work at home with an external calibrated 27“ 1440p display. I think if you don’t have to be on the road all the time this is always the better alternative to any kind of build in display. So everyone has different needs....
 
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Macintoshrumors

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2016
500
405
“Forced” eyeroll. You were not forced conisding the tons of options available to you for a replament machines. On top of that, it seems you have a problem with change and a closed minded.
 

tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,290
821
NC,USA
I’m researching a laptop to buy. Something small, thin, and fast!

The MacBook air 2018 AWESOME!

I was just looking at them on Apple’s website, and it’s just an awesome looking laptop.
 

0014

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 23, 2016
956
590
Middle East
“Forced” eyeroll. You were not forced conisding the tons of options available to you for a replament machines. On top of that, it seems you have a problem with change and a closed minded.
Ok. Explain to me, as someone heavily invested in the apple ecosystem (iPhone, iPad, and MBP at the time) What selection from the 'tons' of machines I could have got that would run Pages & Keynote? Which i use as i prefer them over Microsoft versions.

Or better still don't bother as you are clearly a Troll. You have added zero value to the thread and appear to just want to pass judgement on my needs, mindset and wether or not I am averse to change based off of 1 post.

There is a saying that I use a lot in work. That is that it is better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt!. You just removed all doubt. Well done. :rolleyes:
 

tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,290
821
NC,USA
Anyone using strictly the new MacBook Air alongside the new iPad Pro? I’m thinking this would be the ultimate setup for file management, and also content consumption, etc.etc.
 
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Jayderek

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2010
466
745
Madison, WI
Anyone using strictly the new MacBook Air alongside the new iPad Pro? I’m thinking this would be the ultimate setup for file management, and also content consumption, etc.etc.
This is the combo that I will have here shortly. I'm looking to get a new MacBook Air 2018 and recently purchased the iPad 12.9 Pro.

I've had my MacBook 12" 2015 for a few years now and have enjoyed it - but need just a bit more, so the Air should suffice well