Apple MacBook Air 2020 vs. MacBook Air 2019: What's new and different?
Here's how the prices, features and specs -- including that new processor -- stack up.
Justin JaffeManaging editor
Justin Jaffe is the Managing Editor for CNET Money. He has more than 20 years of experience publishing books, articles and research on finance and technology for Wired, IDC and others. He is the coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015), which reveals how financial services companies take advantage of customers -- and how to protect yourself. He graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in English Literature, spent 10 years in San Francisco and now lives in Portland, Maine.
Apple on Wednesday announced a new version of its least expensive laptop, the MacBook Air. Returning to its pre-2019 starting price of $999, the 2020 version features the Magic Keyboard first introduced on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, 10th-gen Intel processors, a new Force Touch trackpad and 256GB of storage for the entry-level configuration. It's available for preorder from Apple now, it starts shipping next week and will soon become available from third-party retailers.
Nearly all of these changes, and especially the lower starting price, are indisputably positive steps forward. The only possible exception is that processor. The previous entry-level model featured Intel's eighth-gen dual-core i5 CPU, while the new MacBook Air comes equipped with a 10th-gen dual-core Intel chip. Sounds good, right? But it's Intel's Core i3 -- and as my colleague Dan Ackerman pointed out, "A Core i3 is what you get in cheap Black Friday doorbuster laptops." Though we haven't yet tested the new model, stepping up to the Core i5, which tacks on an extra $100, is almost certainly a worthwhile, and possibly essential, upgrade.
Otherwise, we like what we see in the new model's specs and features. A (probably) better keyboard, more storage on the baseline model (finally, 256GB to start), an updated trackpad and a lower starting price. Here's a summary of exactly what's included with the 2020 and 2019 base models, and the upgrades that are available for each.