Here’s how the new MacBook Air could’ve blown us away, but didn’t

Apple’s October 30 event has come and gone — and one of the biggest announcement from the show was a new MacBook Air. Strangely enough, it’s still under the “Air” branding, which was retired from other products years ago. Even still, Apple finally came around to updating the aging device.

Despite Apple’s lack of focus around cheap Macs as of late, we had high hopes for Apple’s revamp of the MacBook Air. Unfortunately, Apple opted for a much safer, more basic update of the MacBook Air and didn’t come through in any of the ways we’d hoped it would.

A lower price

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The price of the new MacBook Air is the most important aspect about it. When we’re talking about the range of around a thousand bucks for a laptop every couple of hundred counts. The difference between $1,200 and $1,000 is a wide chasm. It’s the main reason we could never fully recommend the current 12-inch MacBook.

The rumor mill was swirling that this new MacBook Air would replace its aging predecessor, meaning it had the potential for its same, low price point. The Air’s $1,000 price tag always made it an affordable way for college students and professionals alike to get into the Mac ecosystem. We’d hoped Apple would reclaim that important segment of the laptop-buying population with a laptop that doesn’t feel five years old.

Instead, the new MacBook Air is priced at $1,200, just a hundred bucks below the 12-inch MacBook and the 13-inch MacBook (without Touch Bar). You’d be right to be confused as to which you should buy.

A broad demonstration of iOS apps on the Mac

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Apple has stated repeatedly that it has no intention of ever merging iOS and MacOS. However, it has certainly demonstrated some ways they can share more of the same apps.

At WWDC this year, Apple gave us a hint as to how it would solve the Mac’s App Store problem. By changing some of the APIs involved behind-the-scenes, it’s now easier than before to port an app from iOS to MacOS. Apple started off with some low hanging fruit: First-party apps like Apple News and Stocks. But they promised more. The proof will be in the pudding of third party app support, and we were hoping to see Apple show off a broad range of new apps that have brought over to the Mac.

Plenty of time was spent showing off Photoshop and games for the new iPad Pro, but the software side of the MacBook Air wasn’t touched much.

Insane thinness or weight

Apple Macbook Air
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Most of us remember when Steve Jobs pulled the MacBook Air out of a manilla envelope on stage. Tim Cook even referenced the moment on stage.

While the new MacBook Air is a complete redesign, we were hoping Apple would made significant strides in the size of its chassis. The two-pound 12-inch MacBook is still one of the lighter laptops out there, but it no longer holds the record. Laptops like the Samsung Notebook 9 now hold the lightweight championship title, while the Acer Swift 7 is impossibly slim.

Laptops have become so slim, and so light, that only a drastic new design would have let Apple take the crown. It’d likely be a controversial move, but it could also help the company regain its status as a trendsetter in laptop design, a title it hasn’t held for years. So, while the new MacBook Air has cut 17 percent of the volume out of the chassis, it’s not even the most portable in Apple’s own lineup.

Record-breaking battery life

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Battery life is another area MacBooks used to trounce its rivals. The MacBook Air’s twelve-hour battery life was revolutionary at the time. Owning a Windows laptop used to mean you needed to be close to an outlet, but today, the roles have reversed. These days, it’s nothing special.

Windows laptops have improved over the just a few years, and many now score better than the MacBook Pro, Air, or 12-inch MacBook. While the laptops like the new HP Spectre x360 are claiming over 20 hours of battery life, the MacBook hasn’t seen a significant increase in endurance for many years. In fact, the MacBook Pro saw a decline in battery life in its last redesign in 2016.

While the twelve hours that is claimed on the new MacBook Air isn’t terrible, we would have really liked Apple to take a serious lead in this aspect. Instead, it’s just more of the same.

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