If you're thinking of buying Apple's newest MacBook Air, spend the extra $100 and get the 13-inch MacBook Pro instead


Apple finally updated the MacBook Air last year.

The latest MacBook Air is the first “Air” laptop to feature a Retina display. It also comes with two USB-C ports for charging and connecting other devices, and a headphone jack.

But the new MacBook Air isn’t cheap – it starts at $US1,199. If you’re spending that kind of money, you can (and should) spend $US100 more and get Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro, which does a better job at justifying its starting price tag of $US1,299.

1. Both computers have the same size Retina display — 13.3 inches — but the MacBook Pro has better colours.

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The MacBook Air features an standard RGB display, which was featured on all iPhones prior to the iPhone 7. The MacBook Air features a wide colour display, which offers more colours and better accuracy.

Apple Insider has a good breakdown highlighting the improvements from sRGB to wide colour displays.

2. The MacBook Pro display can get way brighter than the MacBook Air screen.

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The biggest issue with the 2018 MacBook Air, when I first saw it in person, was that its maximum brightness wasn’t bright enough for my eyes.

The MacBook Air screen maxes out at 400 nits of brightness, but the 13-inch MacBook Pro display can get much brighter, and is capable of 500 nits.

3. The 2018 MacBook Air features newer chips, but the 13-inch MacBook Pro is still more powerful.

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The 2018 MacBook Air features eighth-generation processors from Intel, which can achieve Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro features older processors – Intel’s seventh-generation chips – but they have a better Turbo Boost of up to 4.0 GHz.

The MacBook Pro can also be upgraded to include a beefier Intel i7 processor, in case you want to do heavier tasks like video editing. With the 2018 MacBook Air, you’re stuck with an Intel i5 processor, which could struggle under heavy load.

4. Despite the “Air” name, both computers have roughly the same dimensions and thickness.

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You’d think the MacBook Air would be drastically thinner than its Pro counterpart, but that’s not the case.

Quite the contrary; the 2018 MacBook Air is 0.61 inches at its thickest point, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro is actually 0.59 inches at its thickest point, which is slightly thinner than the Air!

(The Air, of course, features a tapered design, so its thinnest point is just 0.16 inches.)

5. Again, ignore the “Air” name; both computers weigh about the same.

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The 2018 MacBook Air weighs 2.75 pounds, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro weighs just a little more than that, at 3.02 pounds. The difference is pretty much negligible.

6. Both computers feature the same I/O: two USB-C ports, the same FaceTime HD camera, the same trackpad, the same headphone jack, and the same WiFi and Bluetooth tech.

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Learn more about the best features in MacOS Mojave.

7. Both computers also run the same software: MacOS Mojave, the latest operating system for Mac computers.

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The MacBook Air has a few advantages — it has Touch ID for signing in quickly, slightly better battery life, and comes in gold — but the 13-inch MacBook Pro has slightly more power, and most importantly, a superior display.

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All other things equal, given how much time you’ll be spending in front of this computer, you’ll want its display to be as bright and colourful as it can be. And the difference in display quality between the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new MacBook Air is pretty noticeable.

For $US100 more, you can have the same size computer with a much richer display, and a little more power to boot. Every other feature is nearly identical across both computers.

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