When Apple released the newest version of the MacBook Air back in October, Engadget editor-in-chief Dana Wollman was torn in her review. On one hand, the Air was a long-awaited refresh that many Apple fans had been looking forward to. On the other hand, the popular laptop was now only $100 cheaper than the entry-level MacBook Pro, while including many of the same features. Did the addition of TouchID and a sharper Retina display make up for a minimal selection of ports and a relatively low-powered processor? That depends on your priorities, and Dana ended up giving the Air a pretty favorable score of 84. Readers were more critical; the Air earned an average score of 75 on our user reviews page.
One of the features that most impressed both Dana and our readers was the improved 2,560 x 1,600 screen. Dana called the display more vibrant despite the glossy finish’s occasional glare. Various e readers agreed that the screen was a step up, with Vlad deeming it “a breath of fresh air … The Retina display is bright and rich in colors, with generous viewing angles and plenty of screen real estate.” tonyae198 likewise felt the “display compared to the original MacBook is like night and day.” Michael said it was great, though he “keeps it under half brightness except in direct sunlight.”
While it still features two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack, the new Air lacks an SD slot and a full-size USB port. While this minimalist approach makes for a slim profile, it also garnered mixed feedback from reviewers, with myob saying two ports “are very limiting and are never enough.” Ori thought two ports were fine, but “would prefer placing them on each side for various flexibility.” Meanwhile, Brent wished for another Thunderbolt 3 socket so he could use more peripherals while charging. Vlad wrote extensively about this, overall giving the Air a 10 out of 10 for expandability, as “full use of Thunderbolt 3 … turns the MacBook Air into a surprisingly decent gaming system or GPU programming terminal.”
The butterfly keyboard and Touch ID were also popular: S called the setup “great and quieter than previous butterfly keyboard versions,” while myob said that “having physical function keys and Touch ID makes this notebook a winner in my book.” Reviewer Nope was more pragmatic, stating the keyboard “is nowhere near as bad as people like to say and is entirely passable,” and that they “really enjoy the Touch ID unlock, overall keyboard layout and similar but better form factor.” cf was also a fan, deeming Touch ID “really nice for waking it up and unlocking 1Password. I also like having real function keys vs the Touch Bar!”