New MacBook Airs boast better batteries, start at £850

Apple has updated its MacBook Air line with improved battery and graphics performance, but no retina display.

Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage last night at Apple's WWDC conference to announce, amongst a host of other things, a refreshed line of MacBook Airs.

The new skinny models pack in the latest Intel Haswell chips, which promise better performance with improved battery life. At the keynote, Apple reckons that the 11-inch model is now able to achieve up to nine hours of battery life -- up from five hours -- while the 13-inch model has been taken from seven to 12 hours.

Those are best-case scenario times of course, so expect your own experience to differ depending on how demanding you are of the processor. Haswell chips also boast improved graphics performance -- up to 40 per cent faster, Apple reckons. The standard clock speed is a fairly slow 1.3GHz but a 1.7GHz option is available for £130 more. I'll be putting the new silicon to the test when I snag one of the new slim beasts for a hands on review.

Apple didn't see fit to improve the display however. We all thought it was a given that the Air range will be given the retina display sported by its MacBook Pro siblings, but that's not the case. The Pro's retina displays are undeniably fantastic, so it's a real shame that Apple hasn't given the same love to the Airs. The extra pixels do demand extra cash though -- you would likely expect to pay at least a couple of hundred quid on top of the base price for a Retina Air.

Design-wise, nothing has changed. The Airs are still available in 11- or 13-inch varieties, with both models keeping their ridiculously razor-thin dimensions. Storage now starts at 128GB, with the option to configure it up to a 512GB SSD for an extra £240. 4 or 8GB of RAM is available too.

The base 11-inch Air with 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM and a 1.3GHz Core i5 processor will set you back £850. The same spec 13-inch model will cost an extra £100. The top configured 13-inch Air, packing a Core i7 1.7GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD will cost a whopping £1,600. All models are available now from the Apple store.

What do you think to the new Airs? Is better battery life enough to keep you happy or are you disappointed not to get a retina display? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

About the author

Andrew is a senior editor at CNET and has always been fascinated by tech. When not getting up close and personal with the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

 

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