Test MacBook Air 2018: the computer "for all" Apple is worth its price?

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In 2015, the arrival of a compact and lightweight MacBook foreshadowed the end of the MacBook Air range. It is not so. At the end of October, Apple introduced a new version of its ultraportable, equipped with a 13-inch screen of better quality. The computer also benefits from the latest keyboard technology of the brand, which profoundly changes the comfort of typing.

All this has a price, and, as often at Apple, it is high: 1349 euros for the 128 GB version, 1599 euros for the 256 GB version. Will the MacBook Air manage to keep its place among the computers most popular of the world?

An impeccable design

In addition to a hardware update, this new MacBook Air has a complete redesign to be at the level of very pretty MacBook and MacBook Pro. He underwent a slimming cure, going from 1.7 to 1.56 cm thick. A gain of more than 8%. The new MacBook Air is logically lighter than the old one (1.25 kg against 1.35 kg); a weight loss of the order of 7%. Evolution seems marginal on paper but it feels once the product in hand.

Apple's 2018 MacBook Air

Space optimization is improved with thinner black borders around the screen, although some manufacturers – such as Dell or HP – offer screens with more discreet contours. Apple markets three finishes for its new MacBook Air: the classics "Sidereal Gray" and "Silver" are complemented by a golden declination of the most beautiful effect. This one pulls slightly towards the rose, without turning into ostentatious.

A very comfortable keyboard

In spite of problems encountered on the first generations, Apple integrates again its keyboard "butterfly", which has the particularity to be much more "nervous" than the traditional keyboards. The Californian manages to offer a very responsive but also very comfortable shot. Thanks to this, we benefited from an excellent typing speed while preserving our joints. After having tasted it, it is difficult to return to softer "chisel" touches.

Apple's 2018 MacBook Air

This comfort of use is accentuated by the integration of a Trackpad with Force Touch, larger than the previous model and now sensitive to pressure. For example, pressing a file on a file opens an overview of the file. An option that does not change the daily but that has the merit of existing.

Finally a Retina screen

The most anticipated evolution by Apple customers is undoubtedly the arrival of a Retina display, already present on all other laptops of the brand. This denomination refers to a better defined LCD screen (2560 x 1600 pixels against 1440 x 900 pixels for the previous generation of MacBook Air) and enjoying better viewing angles. At such rates, this evolution was essential for anyone who wants to watch movies and series with good image quality.

One of the side effects of this better screen – probably more energy-hungry – is the autonomy, which remains convincing if not progress. On his website, Apple promises 12 hours of web browsing. In our experience, we can not expect the MacBook Air to survive a big day of work.

Apple's 2018 MacBook Air

Touch ID button

With its new MacBook Air, Apple reserves a small surprise in the upper right corner of the keyboard: the brand incorporates a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. A function previously reserved for MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, sold from 1999 euros. Already proven on the iPhone, biometric recognition technology allows you to unlock your computer without typing a password.

Weaknesses of the 2018 MacBook Air

Limited power

Unlike MacBooks equipped with a 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core m3, the 2018 MacBook Air benefits from a 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor in theory more powerful. Except that as reported by our colleagues 01net.com, the MacBook Air sometimes tends to clamp its power to avoid any risk of overheating. This inevitably leads to a fall in power during intensive use.

The main question to ask is: what are these intensive uses? For this model, we are talking about retouching very large format images, video editing and, of course, video games. During our week of use, we are limited to traditional activities (document management, writing articles, writing emails, editing photos not exceeding fifteen megapixels). So many trials that have not been a problem in the MacBook Air.

A high price

The latest Apple is not limited by its power. Unlike the MacBook, the MacBook Air is offered by default with 128 GB of storage (about 100 GB after installation of macOS Mojave). This capacity will be binding for a large part of potential customers. Then comes the question of the price: by upgrading to the 256 GB version, the bill amounts to 1599 euros. For comparison, the excellent Dell XPS 13 – more powerful and also equipped with 256 GB of storage – is available for 1399 euros.

Conclusion

Despite its limited power, the MacBook Air is suitable for the vast majority of uses. Apple's manufacturing and optimization qualities make it a durable and, above all, extremely comfortable computer. Its major flaw remains its storage capacity of 128 GB, too limited to house a library of movies and series. A transition to the 256 GB version (1599 euros) will then be necessary. With this storage capacity, those who want a more compact computer will prefer the MacBook (1599 euros too).

Those who have an intensive use of their machine will have to turn to the MacBook Pro (1749 euros in version 13 inches / 256 GB). PC enthusiasts will be tempted to turn to the Dell XPS 13.