Hands on: 2020 MacBook Air worth it for new keyboard, lower price

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 2020
We've got our hands on the updated 2020 MacBook Air and have spent a bit of time testing out its best new features. Let's take a closer look at what separates this new machine apart, and how impactful its changes really are to users.

The updated 2020 MacBook Air looks much like the previous generation
The updated 2020 MacBook Air looks much like the previous generation

Starting price

Probably most touted is the new and $100-cheaper price tag. Apple has decreased the price from $1,099 for the entry-level model to only $999. This is a big deal for anyone who wants to jump into owning a new Mac without having to break the bank.






Furthermore, the education discount brings the price down another hundred to $899. Between that new pricing and the frequent discounts that crop up, Apple's MacBook Air is now more approachable than ever.

Magic Keyboard

Following that lower price point, the next feature that is sure to persuade users is the updated keyboard. Apple has transitioned away from its butterfly mechanism to the tried-and-true scissor mechanism. This keyboard is the same Magic Keyboard that launched with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The new Magic Keyboard is borrowed from the 16-inch MacBook Pro
The new Magic Keyboard is borrowed from the 16-inch MacBook Pro


We can't tell much of a difference between the 16-inch MacBook Pro and typing on the new MacBook Air. There is substantial movement in the keys and they have a good "click" feeling as they are depressed.

They are a little louder than the previous generation but unless you are self-conscious and in a crowded -- yet quiet -- space, it won't matter much.

Not to mention this keyboard will be far more reliable than the previous generation. Many users put off buying the last-gen MacBook Air due to the keyboard should now be happy to upgrade.

6K display output

Thanks to the new Intel Iris Plus onboard graphics, the MacBook Air is now capable of powering an external 6K display. That includes Apple's gorgeous 6K Pro Display XDR.

Apple's 6K Pro Display XDR will work with the MacBook Air
Apple's 6K Pro Display XDR will work with the MacBook Air


As crazy as it sounds to set up your thousand-dollar MacBook Air with a monitor worth five times more, that is exactly what you can do. Surely most people won't be champing at the bit to do so, but any improvement in graphics and performance will be welcomed.

Quad-core processors

The entry-level machine now comes equipped with a 10th-generation 1.1GHz dual-core Intel i3 processor. That is changed from the 9th-generation 1.6GHz Intel i5 processor. Because this is the new 10th-gen design, there isn't going to be a huge difference between the dual-core i5 and the new dual-core i3.

On top of the new starting chipset, Apple also now offers two quad-core options. Users can opt for a 1.1GHz quad-core i5 or a 1.2GHz quad-core i7. We don't have our i7 yet but early benchmarks are showing massive gains for Apple's most portable machine.

Storage

Finally, the last major feature we were thrilled to see was Apple upgrading the base storage on the new model. Instead of 128GB of SSD storage, users will get 256GB by default.

This is a huge deal. Out of the box, around 25GB is already consumed by the default apps as well as the OS. Once you add Pages, Keynote, Numbers, your iCloud Photo Library, that 128GB from the previous model is quickly eaten up.

Apple should have upgraded the base storage years ago, but it's better late than never. This is also a step we saw Apple take with the new iPad Pro going from 64GB to 128GB on the entry-level models.

Storage options for the new MacBook Air start at 256GB and go up to 2TB
Storage options for the new MacBook Air start at 256GB and go up to 2TB


On top of the new base storage, Apple also included a new top-of-the-line option. Users who are reliant on a lot of storage can opt for 2TB of internal SSD storage.

For $800, users could shun external storage and keep everything internal. A 2TB external SSD will likely run at least $300 and will require you to tote around the device on its own, plug it in every time it needs to be used, and deal with slower transfer speeds than when internal. No one likes managing storage so it is clear many users will choose to upgrade the storage of the machine out of the gate.

Save on the new MacBook Air

Right now, if you want to pick up the new MacBook Air you can already save up to $105 off retail price. The latest deals and product availability can be found 24/7 in the AppleInsider 2020 MacBook Air Price Guide.

2020 MacBook Air deals (dual-core) 2020 MacBook Air savings (quad-core)

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,778member
    MBAs Are Great Again.
    GeorgeBMacrazorpit
  • Reply 2 of 10
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    Effectively, Apple didn't reduce the price by $100 but by $300.

    Once Apple abandoned replaceable & upgradeable storage after 2017, the base storage of 128Gb was simply inadequate because, even if it would work when the machine was purchased, it may not work down the road -- so the buyer was forced to spend an extra $200 to "upgrade" to adequate storage (256Gb).

    So, Apple effectively reduced the cost $300.
    ...  The reduced price and decent keyboard make the MacBook Air a great computer and a good buy.
    kestralentropysrazorpit
  • Reply 3 of 10
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,498member
    The i5 upgrade is only 50€ on the Spanish store. I'm sure that will be a no brainer for those interested in this refresh.
  • Reply 4 of 10
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 1,058member
    ...storage of course used to be upgradable, at less than perhaps half the cost via OWC and others: eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/S3DAPT4MB20/#top-of-results Many upgrades (or fixes) yes, however I still ask how 'onboard' storage serves customers better vs a slotted SSD on a lifecycle basis...
    GeorgeBMacavon b7
  • Reply 5 of 10
    M68000M68000 Posts: 530member
    I'm looking forward to a response from a moderator of this website -  so now we have at least one person suspecting this is a false article and a second person claiming outright that they somehow know that this is a false article.   In the past, we have seen certain reviewers on YouTube and others at specific companies get their hands on new equipment even just before it comes out to the public and are given special treatment getting new hardware.   This is annoying to say the least, but things like that do seem to go on more often than many might think.
    edited March 2020 StrangeDays
  • Reply 6 of 10
    M68000M68000 Posts: 530member
    eideard said:
    sirozha said:
    Did you really get your hands on one or did you simply put together a review based on the information readily available elsewhere in order to post revenue sharing links that will earn you a commission?
    Read the review Tuesday.  Ordered Wednesday morning.  FedEx delivery guy here Thursday morning. Free next-day delivery on Apple.

    Love it.
    Good to hear, enjoy your new Air.   I am on the fence with keeping my 2018 Air.  So, I'm used to the problematic keyboard now after using it for so long.  It does look really
    cool with the keys being so low profile, but looks are not the most important thing.   It's probably a better financial decision to keep old Air, it's been a great machine.
    GeorgeBMacking editor the grate
  • Reply 7 of 10
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,813member
    No one buys just for the Magic keyboard but other reasons(256GB at $999) that justify upgrade. So, stop using phrase upgrade just for keyboard. Next upgrade need extra one port on other side, 14" screen, WiFi6 and stays with no touch bar.
  • Reply 8 of 10
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,313member

    Effectively, Apple didn't reduce the price by $100 but by $300.

    Once Apple abandoned replaceable & upgradeable storage after 2017, the base storage of 128Gb was simply inadequate because, even if it would work when the machine was purchased, it may not work down the road -- so the buyer was forced to spend an extra $200 to "upgrade" to adequate storage (256Gb).

    So, Apple effectively reduced the cost $300.
    ...  The reduced price and decent keyboard make the MacBook Air a great computer and a good buy.
    Nah, that logic doesn't make any sense. Entry-level users are fine with entry-level specs. My father and his GF have laptops but no need for storage -- no music collection, few photos, few applications, etc. They're just basic. 

    I'm not a basic user but I get the entry-level storage for iPhones because I offload most of my stuff to the cloud and don't need the local storage anymore. Macs I have more stuff (Virtual Machines taking up a bunch), but use less than 25% of my iMac's storage. Point is: needs vary. Just because we don't want entry-level doesn't mean nobody does.
    edited March 2020
  • Reply 9 of 10
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,561administrator
    M68000 said:
    I'm looking forward to a response from a moderator of this website -  so now we have at least one person suspecting this is a false article and a second person claiming outright that they somehow know that this is a false article.   In the past, we have seen certain reviewers on YouTube and others at specific companies get their hands on new equipment even just before it comes out to the public and are given special treatment getting new hardware.   This is annoying to say the least, but things like that do seem to go on more often than many might think.
    Our MacBook Air -- as with nearly all of our Apple hardware we have ever reviewed -- was purchased by AppleInsider. It arrived Fedex on Saturday afternoon. And no, neither Andrew nor I were pleased about it.

    The nonsensical tripe that developed as a result of conspiracy theory nonsense has been purged. A pair of bans have been doled out -- one of which we should have done a long time ago.
    edited March 2020 king editor the grateStrangeDaysGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 10 of 10
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member

    Effectively, Apple didn't reduce the price by $100 but by $300.

    Once Apple abandoned replaceable & upgradeable storage after 2017, the base storage of 128Gb was simply inadequate because, even if it would work when the machine was purchased, it may not work down the road -- so the buyer was forced to spend an extra $200 to "upgrade" to adequate storage (256Gb).

    So, Apple effectively reduced the cost $300.
    ...  The reduced price and decent keyboard make the MacBook Air a great computer and a good buy.
    Nah, that logic doesn't make any sense. Entry-level users are fine with entry-level specs. My father and his GF have laptops but no need for storage -- no music collection, few photos, few applications, etc. They're just basic. 

    I'm not a basic user but I get the entry-level storage for iPhones because I offload most of my stuff to the cloud and don't need the local storage anymore. Macs I have more stuff (Virtual Machines taking up a bunch), but use less than 25% of my iMac's storage. Point is: needs vary. Just because we don't want entry-level doesn't mean nobody does.

    My point is:   Needs change.   Especially when a non-technical person doesn't understand their needs to begin with. 
    Yes, if the person knowlingly takes the risk of spending a thousand+ dollars on a machine with limited functionality that is itheir choice.  But it isn't something a high end brand should force on their buyers -- particularly those who are buying it believing they are buying quality.

    But, that was semi-ok in the 2017 and earlier model because, for a price, you could upgrade it if necessary.  But starting with the 2018 the price was a new MacBook Air.  That was unacceptable in a high end machine from a manufacturer people trusted to make quality products that "just work".

    Fortunately, as I said, Apple mostly fixed that by doubling the size of the SSD in the 2020 MBA.
    edited March 2020
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