As expected, Apple just updated its MacBook Air lineup with Intel’s Haswell processor and a $100 price cut across the board on all models … making the starting price for the 11-inch MacBook Air just $899. The exterior remains unchanged although we still suspect Apple will showcase a new chassis design for the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops closer to the end of this year.
As far as the hardware updates are concerned, the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models now feature up to a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 “Haswell” processor with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in the baseline models or you can pay an extra $200 and increase the storage capacity to a 256GB PCIe SSD.
Additional built-to-order options include up to a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD. The more notable update is the significant boost in battery life … at least according to the folks in Cupertino. Apple claimed the previous MacBook Air delivered up to 9 hours of wireless web access and 8 hours of iTunes movie playback but Apple now lists the new MacBook Air with “up to 12 hours of wireless web” and “up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback. That said, both the old and the new MacBook Air models have the same claim of up to 30 days of standby time.
The price break for the MacBook Air is sure to be a smart move for graduation gifts and back-to-school shoppers, but this news does little to squash the rumors of a 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display coming in Q3 this year. The biggest design limitations for the MacBook Air continues to be the screen resolution; the new 11-inch MacBook Air is still stuck with a paltry 1366 x 768 resolution while the 13-inch MacBook Air remains “less than full HD” at 1440 x 900.
The rumored 12-inch MacBook with a Retina Display would go a long way toward giving the most portable MacBooks a display that rivals the cheaper iPads. Until then, we’ll just have to be happy with better processors, improved battery life and a $100 price cut on the MacBook Air.