Hands-On With the New 2018 MacBook Air

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple's newly revamped 2018 MacBook Air with slimmed down bezels, Touch ID, and a thinner body launched yesterday, and we got our hands on one of the updated machines.

    Check out our latest YouTube video for an unboxing and feature overview of the new notebook, which has been described as the ideal MacBook for most people.

    Design wise, the MacBook Air looks a lot like the previous-generation model, but it now comes in Space Gray and Gold in addition to Silver. It's not as thin and light as the ultra thin and ultra portable MacBook, but Apple has streamlined the design.

    The new MacBook Air is 10 percent thinner than the previous model, takes up 17 percent less volume, and weighs a quarter pound less at 2.75 pounds.


    Components from the MacBook Pro, including the larger Force Touch trackpad and the third-generation butterfly keyboard, have been added to the MacBook Air, which will be major changes for anyone upgrading from an older machine that doesn't have these features.

    There's been some controversy with the butterfly keyboard (which has been available in the MacBook and MacBook Pro for years) but this third-generation version has additional silicone barriers to keep crumbs out and to cut down on failure rates.


    Like the new 2018 MacBook Pro models, the MacBook Air adopts a T2 chip and Touch ID for use as a password replacement, but it doesn't have a Touch Bar. It also uses USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, dropping the USB-A, SD card slot, and MagSafe 2 ports.

    For the first time, the MacBook Air features a Retina display, putting it on par with the MacBook Pro and the MacBook. It's not quite as bright and vibrant as the MacBook Pro's display, but it's still a fantastic improvement over the previous non-Retina model.


    The display also has slimmed down black bezels, a much more modern look than the thick silver bezels from the prior-generation model.

    Inside, the MacBook Air is equipped with a 7W 8th-generation Core i5 Intel processor. It's not as high-powered as the 15W chips used in previous MacBook Air models, but it does offer speed improvements over the old Broadwell chips that prior machines used, and since it uses less power, it's super efficient.

    The new MacBook Air has the longest battery life out of any of Apple's notebooks, lasting up to 12 hours when browsing the web and 13 hours when watching iTunes movies.


    With all of these new features, Apple is charging $1,199 for the entry-level MacBook Air with a 128GB SSD and 8GB RAM, $200 more than the base model MacBook Air used to cost. That puts it close to the pricing of both the entry-level 2017 non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro and the 12-inch Retina MacBook.

    Still, the MacBook Air is Apple's lowest-priced modern notebook, and with its rich feature set, long battery life, and slimmed down enclosure, it's an appealing machine that's ideal for people who need a notebook to do things like web browsing, light creative work, writing, office work, and other similar tasks.

    It's not as powerful as the MacBook Pro and it's not as portable as the MacBook, but it's a great middle-of-the-road machine that's going to suit the needs of most Mac users.

    Did you get a new 2018 MacBook Air? Let us know what you think about the machine in the comments.

    Article Link: Hands-On With the New 2018 MacBook Air
  2. polee, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018

    polee macrumors 6502a


    Jul 22, 2008
    I am going to get this. I have tested it at Apple and it has been a pure pleasure to type on. I am however waiting to sell of my macbook 2017 first. Has anyone tested this on an external monitor yet?
  3. Baymowe335 macrumors 68030

    Oct 6, 2017
    Best MacBook in a while. This is going to sell like hotcakes.
  4. levitynyc macrumors 65816

    Aug 19, 2006
    128GB is a total non starter for me.

    $200 to upgrade to 256GB is laughable.
  5. AngerDanger, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018

    AngerDanger macrumors 68040


    Dec 9, 2008
    ← Downward Crow's Head
    Just waiting for somebody to make the haptic trackpad vibrate enough to scoot the MacBook Air around your desk.

  6. SandboxGeneral, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018

    SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    I have the Space Gray version with 16GB RAM and the 512 GB SSD. I'm quite happy with the purchase so far and I've already taken it on a road trip to a distant meeting today. I took it off of the charger at about 7 am this morning and after 10.5 hours It still has 68% battery life remaining.

    The keyboard is nice and it's my first time experiencing the butterfly design. The screen brightness is also good. I recognize that the nits are lower than other laptops and some aren't happy with that. But for my use case, always indoors with dim light and bright lights, the screen is just fine and I don't even have it at 100% most of the time.

    I do like the force touch trackpad too. Very nice to be able to click anyplace on it verses at the the bottom.

    Having Touch ID and Apple Pay on here is also very awesome.

    This is all an experience in comparison to my now retired 2012 15" cMBP which weighed a ton. I love how the new MBA is so small, thin and lightweight. It makes it so much better to carry around from meeting to meeting at work.

    Edit: Updated info since others are asking me about it.

    Fan noise:

    Zero fan noise.

    So far, I've heard nothing out of this machine. That includes initial setup, then doing the macOS update it needed and installing some of my apps including Evernote and downloading all the notes from the cloud and doing the initial Time Machine backup, something like 52GB in all. I have never felt it get hot yet either. That includes using this as a true laptop. What I mean by that is, I was working on my book, browsing the web and such with the MacBook Air on my lap, with a blanket between it and my legs and it never got hot, or started to overheat or made any kind of fan noise. My old MacBook Pro would always start to overheat and spin up the fans in that situation and I ended up buying a laptop holder thing to rest it on and then rest that on my lap.

    I don't do any CPU intensive tasks anymore and am more of a general, everyday typical computer user, so this MacBook Air fits my bill nicely.

    Regarding the keyboard, this is my first experience with the butterfly design and I quite like it very much. I'm not having any more typos than I get on any other type of keyboard. In fact, I feel like I'm typing even faster on this one than my old 2012 MacBook Pro or on the Apple Wireless keyboard. I know a lot of people are unhappy with this keyboard design, but many others are equally satisfied with it.

    I was even doing some work last night on my book with this machine and just typing away was effortless for me and dare I say it, enjoyable.
  7. Tymmz macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2005
    picked one up yesterday and I'm super pleased with this machine. screen seems a little dim but still plenty bright for our needs.
  8. huffhuff macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2010
    Had mine a day, 'entry level' spec off the shelf. Very happy - what a difference to my early 2011 MacBook Pro (obviously).

    Oodles of battery life, love the screen and trackpad. Keyboard is nice to type on, albeit rather loud (actually quite conscious of it laying here typing with my wife asleep next to me).

    The money I saved (on educational discount) went straight back out on a USB-C hub, various dongles and a 500GB SSD with USB-C external enclosure. Still, mucho happy :)
  9. Sasparilla macrumors 6502a

    Jul 6, 2012
    That 3rd picture middle Book, those lovely ports (both sides of that Air) and mag-safe....
  10. yocko, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2018

    yocko macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2008
    I bought it and was kind of desillusioned with it. I thought the retina screen was kind of meh... I also found it kind of sluggish. It just doesn’t feel kind of (excuse me) snappy. I ran into the pizza wheel of death once or twice and I decided this morning to return it and get a 13’ iPad Pro instead.
    The difference in screen is mind blowing. I use it mainly when I travel and thought I could do without the full macOS. I read watch movies and play with it. Mail I prefer to do on my phone. I type nowhere faster than on my phone.
    I really got a rush of excitement when I got the iPad. And I had nothing of the sorts with the MBA.
  11. citysnaps macrumors 68040

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    Are you trying to entice me to place an order?
  12. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    should have released this in the spring/summer to get the college students but i guess they sold the MBPs for more money...
  13. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    No one mentioned the TouchBar is not included..Other Mac's without Touchbar also do nt have TouchID either, yet this is an exception for MBA Retina.
  14. PickUrPoison, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018

    PickUrPoison macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2017
    Sunnyvale, CA
    Would you prefer a $1,399 256GB entry level model instead, with no $1,199 128GB model available at all?
  15. Jmausmuc macrumors 6502a


    Oct 13, 2014
    I feel like the Touchbar is kind of dead at this point. If only a fraction of models have it (not even all MBPs) there is not as much incentive for developers to fully embrace it.
  16. dumoore macrumors member

    Nov 30, 2017
    There is only 1 reason to buy the MacBook 12", slightly more portable. But with how portable and slim the air is, the MacBook does not make sense any more.
  17. javisan macrumors regular

    Dec 4, 2006
    Chicago, IL
    For those who also have an Apple watch, is using Touch ID really better than just letting the Apple watch unlock the Mac?
  18. blairh macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    MBP has a much better screen. Go compare them in store and you'll see for yourself. Not much heavier either.
  19. PickUrPoison, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018

    PickUrPoison macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2017
    Sunnyvale, CA
    The upgraded MacBook Pro (2018) with Touchbar/TouchID/quad-core/four Thunderbolt 3 ports/3rd generation keyboard starts at $1,799 for 256GB SSD. It’s a $300 upgrade from the 256GB non-TouchBar MacBook Pro (2017). I think it’s well worth it if you need/want better multi-core (and single/dual-core for that matter) performance and/or the other added features (Touchbar/TouchID/four Thunderbolt 3 ports/3rd generation keyboard).

    If you plan on keeping it longer than three years I’d seriously suggest the quad-core, unless your requirements are light to moderate. It’s much more future proof.
  20. MauiPa macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2018
    I thought so too, but you are comparing Mac SSDs to much slower ones. If you just compare the Samsung X5 portable at 1TB for $699 on amazon, this drive has speeds comparable to the Mac, and also a steep price. Not all things are comparable on a simplistic basis.
  21. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    It fills a very, very small gap that previously existed between the MacBook and the nTB Pro. I think it would be the very rare consumer indeed who wasn’t served by either of those machines but will be by the new Air.

    Mostly, I think it exists just because there’s a big chunk of consumers who love the Air brand and will be attracted to this over the other two laptops for that reason alone.
  22. JitteryJimmy, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018

    JitteryJimmy macrumors member

    Apr 12, 2008
    I need storage capacity, and sadly the retina Air has soldered-in storage and fantastically expensive storage upgrade costs.

    The 2017 MBA lets me add a 3rd party 1 TB SSD for under $180. $1180 for the classic MBA with 1 TB capacity is far more affordable than $2400 for the retina MBA with 1 TB capacity.
  23. BeamWalker, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018

    BeamWalker macrumors 6502a


    Dec 18, 2009
    "rich feature set" would you care to explain ?
  24. Amorun macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2016
    There's at least one more: no fan, i.e. no noise and no dust collecting inside. Don't forget, that MacBook hasn't received new Y-series Amber Lake chips.
  25. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    People can hear fan noise when its quiet still? Do you guys work in a clean facility or something? lol

    I keep my room spotless, but particles of dust would still settle over time. where you have space on the outter-hinge.

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