The arrival of Apple’s 12-inch MacBook earlier last year marked the beginning of the end for its MacBook Air lineup. At least, that’s what people said at the time.

The new MacBook is more portable, lighter, has a gorgeous high-resolution display and can go for almost as long as the Air on a single charge. Who would pick a machine stuck in the past over a laptop from the future?

As it turns out, the future’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The new MacBook’s inconvenient USB Type-C port, controversial keyboard and moderately powerful Intel Core M chip have proved a compromise too many for some people.

Now that Apple has refreshed its 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air models with Intel’s fifth-generation Broadwell processors, Intel HD Graphics 6000 and Thunderbolt 2, they’re suddenly looking much more appealing, even if it’s business as usual on the outside.

Recent developments

The MacBook Air is still one of the best Macs around, but when it comes to news surrounding it, there aren’t many updates to be discussed in the way of hardware. Rather, Apple’s entry-level laptop is seeing its most significant changes as a result of new software. The latest version of Apple’s Mac operating system, macOS High Sierra, graced the MacBook Air on September 25.

It’s still early in this rendition of the OS’s lifespan, but so far it’s garnered a wealth of support from Apple and its fans. Version 10.13.1 of macOS High Sierra was released on October 31, for instance, and from it you can expect a ton of new emoji – 70, to be exact. These include the long-awaited broccoli emoji, various mythical creatures and, finally, gender-neutral faces.

Likewise, plenty of issues experienced in macOS 10.13 are addressed in 10.13.1, but if that doesn’t interest you, maybe this will. For a limited time only, you can play high-end PC games like Destiny 2 and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on your MacBook Air for free via Nvidia’s GeForce Now streaming service in beta. Early impressions from yours truly are positive too.

Design

Speaking of which, the MacBook Air’s design has now remained unchanged for five long years. If Apple didn’t feel the need to tinker with it before, there’s even less chance that it’ll change any time soon now that the 12-inch MacBook is out there. Which is a shame, because the Air’s classic design could really benefit from slimmer bezels and an overall reduction in footprint.

Forget the Dell XPS 13’s physics-defying Infinity Display, which is lightyears ahead – even Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina, once seen as slightly tubby compared to the Air, has a smaller footprint and takes up slightly less space on your lap.

13 inch MacBook Air 2015

Still, the old “if it ain’t broke” mantra applies – up to a point. The MacBook Air’s aluminium unibody design, which supports the main enclosure and the display, is as durable as ever. Its lid can be easily raised with a single hand and doesn’t droop in any position, and you have to press really hard to detect flex on the machine’s base or lid.

It’s also easy to clean with a damp cloth. If there’s one drawback, it’s that the aluminium body can scratch easily to leave permanent black marks, so you should consider buying a sleeve if you’re going to sling it into a bag for transportation.



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