Apple's Confusing Mac Lineup: MacBook Air vs. MacBook

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple at its October event unveiled a new 2018 MacBook Air that's been entirely overhauled with a Retina display, Thunderbolt 3, a slimmed down design, a faster processor, and other hardware upgrades.

    The new $1,199 machine is a great addition to the MacBook Pro, but there's just one problem - Apple already had a notebook with all of these features. The 2018 MacBook Air is very similar to the 12-inch MacBook, which did not receive a 2018 update.

    The 2018 MacBook Air, which Apple is selling for $1,199, is better in almost every way than the 12-inch MacBook, which is still priced at $1,299. It has a larger Retina display, a faster Amber Lake processor, upgraded Intel UHD Graphics 617, two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, up to 1.5TB of storage, Touch ID and T2 chip, better battery life, and it costs $100 less (though you're getting 128GB storage instead of 256GB with the base model).

    At this point in time, with no update, all the MacBook has going for it is a slimmer body and a lighter weight, but even then, the difference is minute given the revamped design of the MacBook Air.


    The 2018 MacBook Air measures in at 0.16 to 0.61 inches thick, compared to the MacBook, which comes in at 0.14 to 0.52 inches. It also weighs 2.75 pounds instead of the MacBook's 2 pounds, but those are really the only differentiating factors.

    Right now, there is absolutely no good reason to purchase a MacBook over a MacBook Air, and anyone considering a new Apple notebook that's aiming for portability and good battery life should choose the MacBook Air.


    You can get close to MacBook Air performance with the upgraded MacBook with a 1.4GHz Core M processor, but the MacBook Air is still going to beat it because it's using eighth-generation processors instead of seventh-generation and it costs $1,549 to upgrade to that higher-powered processor.

    If and when Apple upgrades the MacBook with next-generation Intel chips, it's still going to be almost on par with the MacBook Air if there are no other changes to form factor or specifications, so it's a mystery why the MacBook is still in Apple's lineup and why Apple has opted to have two machines that are so similar.


    Prior to the October update, Apple hadn't made significant changes to the MacBook Air since 2015, and it was believed that the machine, which was priced at $999, was sticking around as a low-cost option until component prices for the MacBook came down. With the launch of the new version, that's clearly no longer Apple's plan, and the future of the MacBook and MacBook Air is murkier than ever.

    As for the MacBook Air vs. the MacBook Pro, things are a bit clearer. The MacBook Air is still the lower-cost lower-performance option that is ideal for lighter workloads that don't require high-powered software.


    All MacBook Pro models, including the 2017 non-Touch Bar models, offer better performance than the MacBook Air's 7W Amber Lake processor, but with the base MacBook Air vs. the base non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro priced at $1,299, there's not a huge difference. When deciding between these two machines, it's going to come down to whether you prefer a smaller form factor and Touch ID or slightly better performance.

    What do you think Apple is planning for the MacBook in the future? Let us know in the comments.

    Article Link: Apple's Confusing Mac Lineup: MacBook Air vs. MacBook
  2. lilrush macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2008
    The desktop lineup is even more confused, the Mac mini is stronger than the iMac and goes blow for blow with the Mac Pro lol
  3. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    Too bad Apple didn't release a new low-cost MacBook (Air).
    Lots of educational customers do not prefer iPad, but the new MBA is getting too expensive.
  4. Emanuel Rodriguez macrumors member

    Emanuel Rodriguez

    Oct 17, 2018
    The MacBook Air is the new mid-range computer, the MacBook is the new light and ultra-portable laptop, and the MacBook Pro is what it always was. Seems straightforward to me.

    The only issue is the pricing doesn't reflect this, which is hard to explain tbh.
  5. Lioness~ macrumors 6502a


    Apr 26, 2017
    Wild and Free
    Tim Cook is even more confusing, the best confusion ever.
  6. nt5672 macrumors 68000

    Jun 30, 2007
    Just shows what happens when a finance guy is making tech decisions.
  7. Slix macrumors 6502a


    Mar 24, 2010
    I was fully expecting the MacBook line to overtake the Air line and eventually the Air would be phased out, but what happened is now making the product line confusing for nearly everyone...

    Here's hoping they update the MacBook soon and just make it the 12" MacBook Air and simplify the lineup again.
  8. macduke macrumors G3


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    I'm hoping they do away with the 12" MacBook and reintroduce an 11" MacBook Air with the new features for $100 less.
  9. KoolAid-Drink, Nov 5, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018

    KoolAid-Drink macrumors 65816

    Sep 18, 2013
    I'd discontinue the MacBook in its current form, then once it's discontinued, remove the "Air" from the current MBA and just simply name it MBA, then keep the MBP as is. My two cents.

    EDIT: Monday exhaustion... I meant, keep the current MBA format, give it a 11" size, then rename it simply as MacBook. Keep the MBP as is.
  10. AngerDanger macrumors 68040


    Dec 9, 2008
    ← Downward Crow's Head
    The MacBook is more air than the MacBook Air. Why not swap the names?
  11. emulajavi macrumors regular

    Dec 15, 2011
    Good article but it's missing the most important thing:

    Apple is STILL ashamingly selling the Early 2015 MBA, with a 5TH GEN Intel processor for $999 !!!

    A 3.5 year old machine without dropping its price.

    That's insulting!
  12. 555gallardo macrumors regular


    Jan 16, 2016
    - 12" MacBook: The most useless Mac since its reveal
    - 13" MacBook Air: The finest laptop for casual users
  13. citysnaps macrumors 68040

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    The desktop lineup is only “confused” at this moment in time. That’s the way updates go.
  14. TMRJIJ macrumors 68030


    Dec 12, 2011
    South Carolina, United States
    I predict the MacBook price will go below the Air at some point. I remember the original MBA being tough to lay cash out for in the beginning.
  15. fenderbass146 macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2009
    Northwest Indiana
    Yea Lineup is really messed up right now. I always think back to an early Jobs keynote. I think it was original iBook. Basically they cut out all the convoluted lineups they had and simply made a pro desktop/pro laptop and a consumer desktop and a consumer laptop. There are way way too many apple products feeling similar niches in at least the laptop lineup.

    Imo They either should have just launched the new Air in two different sizes and "killed the MacBook" or they should have called the smallest current MacBook, the MacBook Air, the new Retina MacBook Air should be just the "Macbook" then have the pro models. They should also kill off the dual core nTB MBP as they rMBA and nTB MBP fill a really similar space performance wise and price point wise.

    end of rant.
  16. jonhaxor macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007
    no Mac Pro updates yet either ..

    the MacBook looked like a hold over until the MacBook Air updated (like the old MacBook vs MacBook Pro strategy many moons ago) - but looks like they're in that transition period now between product line retirement .. either that or the MacBook gets a really drastic and experimental upgrade in the next couple of months
  17. Emanuel Rodriguez macrumors member

    Emanuel Rodriguez

    Oct 17, 2018
    True, the original MBA did become quite cheap eventually. We'll see.
  18. TMRJIJ macrumors 68030


    Dec 12, 2011
    South Carolina, United States
    Perhaps the iPad Air changed the meaning of ‘Air’. It was a powerhouse but the second to the iPad Pro
  19. lilrush macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2008
    This moment in time is all we have though. We only exist in the present.
  20. Glockworkorange macrumors 65816


    Feb 10, 2015
    Chicago, Illinois
    The little MacBook will drop to $999 at WWDC 2019 and will be fitted with an ARM processor.

    It won't be an A series---they'll call it something else to differentiate it from the iOS devices.

    There will be some software emulation magic that will allow x86 processes.

    The new Mac Pro will be previewed also, to be released "later this year," both to give Apple more time to finish it and allow customers to buy it at an advantageous time for tax purposes.

    MacBook will be the only ARM Mac line for 2019.

    These are my predictions, anyway.
  21. UK-MacAddict macrumors regular

    May 11, 2010
    The top end i7 processor in the mini is faster but the iMac still has far better graphics.
  22. mi7chy macrumors 601


    Oct 24, 2014
    Can't the same thing be said about the MacBook Pro being the better MacBook Air considering they're much closer in weight but the former has better performance and more ports? Probably cheaper for Apple to reduce three product lines into one MacBook Pro and pass on the savings to the customer with a price drop.
  23. JPack macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2017
    The MacBook weighs 25% less and is only 65% the volume of the MacBook Air Retina.

    Some people pay a premium for an ultraportable.
  24. TwoBytes macrumors 68030


    Jun 2, 2008
    The major failing is apple is always leapfrogging it's lineup and nothing is ever aligned or in sync. This causes the confusion and it makes people wait for a machine that may/one day in the unknown future to be released.
    They should have a hardware update and release everything at once and let people choose which machine they want to buy. Not leave people in the macbook vs air or mac mini vs imac, or even imac vs mac pro state.
  25. dual64bit macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2004
    ARM processor would be good thought if they can do the x86 emulation as you said. You would assume better battery life out of the ARM processor.

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