Apple is updating the MacBook Air for the first time in years, but it's a very minor boost

Photo: Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Apple announced an updated version of its MacBook Air laptop on Monday, the first update to the popular-yet-ageing device in more than 800 days.

However, the upgrade appears to be extremely minor: The company only says that the MacBook Air will now start with a 1.8 GHz processor. Previously, the Air started with a 1.6 GHz processor.

Apple did not say the processor boost would include a jump to Intel’s latest “Kaby Lake” processors, however, as it did with the MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook. That suggests it will still use Intel’s years-old “Broadwell” chips, which are a ways behind Kaby Lake in terms of overall performance and battery efficiency.

Beyond that, Apple did not mention any changes to the new MacBook Air’s display or general design, so the rest of the laptop appears to be largely the same.

That’s not great: While the Air’s keyboard, trackpad, battery life, and general build quality are still above-average, the display is less vivid and substantially less sharp than competing laptops these days. Other devices have also managed to pack more power in designs that are slimmer, have smaller borders around the display, and support the newer USB-C standard.

Nevertheless, compared to other Apple laptops, the Air is the most affordable, starting at $US999. But with the MacBook providing a more svelte design, and with Apple slashing the entry price of the 13-inch MacBook Pro (sans Touch Bar) to $US1,299 on Monday, it seems clearer that the company is ready to phase out its long-popular notebook — regardless of how popular it may continue to be.

Apple says the updated MacBook Air will be available to order through its online store on Monday, with retail availbility beginning on June 7.

This story is updating. Check back for updates.

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