MacBook Air (2020): is it really worth it?

It’s been a long time since Apple decided to make something that’s not exorbitantly expensive compared to the services offered. The new MacBook Air 2020 is such a device. An ultra portable device with a sleek design and more than enough performance. This review will be from a normal use perspective and not from some tech nerd (which I am) and all the things that a normal person would need to make a decision to buy it or not.

Technical specifications

The new MacBook Air comes in basically two configurations- with an i3 and i5 intel 10th generation low powered processors with different storage and Ram options.

The review device that I have has the following specifications:

CPU: Intel Core i5-1030NG7 processor
GPU: Intel Iris Plus
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 512GB
Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600
Battery: 9:31
Size: 11.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.8 pounds

Design

The new MacBook Air is the same design as of the 2018 one. Although the design is now 3 generations old but still one of the best in the market. The unibody all metal construction with tapering edges towards the trackpad is one of the better looking designs. It weighs 2.8 pounds and measured 11.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches.

The there colors available are: Gold, Space grey and Silver. The Gold as the name suggests is not exactly a gold color but is somewhat pinkish in color. But it still looks great. The other two colors are pretty much same as other Apple laptops since last 3 years. There are two USB C ports on the left side and a headphone jack on the right. There is also a touch id sensor built in the power button.

Display

The display is 13.3-inch IPS LED display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels and a pixel density of 227ppi. The aspect ratio is 16:10 and the display comes with Apple’s True Tone technology found in other MacBooks, iPhones and iPads. The average brightness is measured at 386 nits which in my opinion is plenty bright for almost all use case scenarios except maybe when looking at it outside directly against sunlight on a 40 degree Celsius day. It’s pretty impressive that Apple could pack this resoultion at this price point without hurting the battery too much. The looking angles are very good with minimal glare on the screen.

Keyboard

Gone are the days of that horrible typing experience of the infamous Butterfly keyboard. I’m still surprised that it took Apple this much time to realise that those butterfly switches were pretty bad and I mean it. But now the old scissor switches are back. Although they are calling it the Magic Keyboard, but it still is the same keyboard as the 2017 MacBook Air. This is the best keyboard that I have ever used. The stability and the satisfying clicks make it so much better for any form of writing. I’m writing this post on the new MacBook itself and it never hurt my hand as the previous one did. All in all it’s a pleasant experience to type on.

Battery Life

The advertised battery life is about 11 hours of web browsing, but that’s not practical. On average one can expect to get around 8-9 hours with normal day-to-day use. If you want to do some heavy stuff like video editing or coding with heavy codes then you can expect it to last around 3-4 hours.

Audio and Video

The new speakers in the MacBook Air are pretty good and man they are loud! The speakers are not comparable to the 16 inch MacBook Pro, but for all purposes it’s more than loud and have decent amount of bass.

To sum it up it has-

  • Stereo speakers
  • Wide stereo sound
  • Dolby Atmos playback

The webcam is 720p and yes it’s a potato head. The camera is just bad, but the new 3 microphone array is good. The audio is a lot better than the last one and it will be very much sufficient for the video conferences that you’re gonna do.

Performance

The performance is what you might expect by looking at the specs. It’s not a laptop for PROfessionals. This is a laptop for the average college going student or a writer or an office worker who needs email, Microsoft office or webcams for conference. The thermal design will throttle the performance if the laptop is being pushed too hard. Don’t do 4k video editing on it on a daily basis because you’ll bake your processor to death. But for normal everyday use it’s more than enough power. You’ll not notice any stutters, fan noise or any heating when doing normal everyday tasks.

Software

Well, if you are reading this then you know what MacOS is and you are probably interested in it. This comes with the new MacOS Catalina, which is like MacOS. The difference from Mojave is not that much but there are under the hood improvements that you’ll notice in terms of speed and reliability.

Price

The i3 available in India is priced at ₹92,990 and the i5 at ₹1,22,990 which are expensive. But if you want MacOS then this is the minimum that you should spend if buying new MacBook or you can buy a refurbished one for less money. But if you’re gonna buy a refurbished MacBook Air then please don’t! Buy a MacBook Pro refurbished instead.

Bottom line,

The new MacBook Air is the best Air they made and with the price cut from last year it’s a compelling reason for someone looking to buy a MacBook.

The MacBook Air is for those who wants a premium experience over raw power. Because you don’t need bleeding edge tech and discrete graphics to do spreadsheets, type emails, write essays, and browse the web. But having a simple operating system, an amazing design, a good typing experience, nice screen, fair audio and reliability makes it a breeze to use. But don’t expect it to be a replacement for a MacBook Pro or a lesser price Pro because this is not what it is designed for. The thermals will throttle your performance if you push it too hard and the fan will make you deaf.

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