Before 2018, Apple used to have 3 categories of portable laptops namely MacBook Air, MacBook 12 inch and MacBook Pro which had different footprints, prices, specs.
People were always confused about what was best for them. But come 2018, Apple ditched MacBook 12 inch laptop along with the MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar.
Apple has upgraded and condensed the MacBook range for 2019 so you now have to choose between an Air and the Pro.
Now, which one to buy? So, folks let’s go down this road to decide what’s best for you. I said best for you because ‘Best’ is a relative term here.
What’s best for me might not be the best for you.
I would like to mention first here if you have made up your mind for 15-inch screen size or the Touch Bar, then it’s no brainer for you, Go for MacBook Pro as these are not available for MacBook Air.
Likewise, if your budget is around 1100$ and you can’t go up, then you have to settle up for the MacBook Air.
Now, if the above conditions don’t bother you, let’s compare on them on the pillars important for any laptop in the world.
Also, we will be making like for like comparison between the two i.e base model for both of them and 13’’ model for MacBook Pro.
This is the spec sheet for both models.
1. Look and Feel
When it comes to laptops, MacBooks are always the market leader in build quality, aesthetics etc. Same stands true for these MacBooks also. These are some very lightweight, slick piece of hardware. MacBook Air is a bit lighter than Pro and little thinner tapering from 0.16 to 0.61 inch. In the Slickness and lightweight category, MacBook Air is the winner.
2. Processor and RAM
Both Air and Pro’s latest version comes with 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processors, it’s worth noting that MacBook Pro is available in i7 variant also. But we are comparing base models. Although MacBook Air has a more impressive speed of 1.6 GHz in comparison to Pro’s 1.4 GHz, Air is only dual-core while Pro is quad Core. This is where MacBook Pro really Excels over MacBook Air. Air can turbo boost to 3.6 GHz while Pro can go up to 3.9 GHz.
All variants come with default RAM configuration of 8 GB with speed of 2133MHz. But configurable up to 16 GB.
Macbook Pro is the winner by huge margins here.
Macbook displays always perform above the industry model. They are bright, colour accurate, excellent backlighted. MacBook Air and Pro 13 inch, both models have 13.3-inch LED-Backlit true tone display with in-plane switching technology, 2560*1600 resolutions with a PPI of 227.
But MacBook Pro’s have awesome brightness peaking at 500 nits compared to mere 300 nits of Macbook Air. Colour accuracy wise, Air has 96.9% sRGB while pro supports 100% sRGB spectrum with DCP3 support. It also has more dynamic range and supports HDR content too. So, display wise, MacBook Pro’s are better than Air.
Both these MacBook sports new 3rd generation Butterfly mechanism backlit keyboard which people are not very fan of. They are getting accustomed to, but it doesn’t provide the feel of a Logitech Wireless keyboard. The keys have very shallow distance, sometimes it messes the writing, and are also very soft and mushy with loud noisy keystrokes. With next-generation, Apple did introduce some membrane below the keyboard, which will resist dust particles to enter inside to provide a solution to this to a certain extent but still it is far from being a stable keyboard. So, this category is a tie between the two.
Physical Description: 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) individual LED-backlit keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys and have ‘Ambient light sensor’
Source: Apple Website
Apple creates the industry best Trackpads, Period. These trackpads are so reliable, feels amazing while using, have a great Taptic Engine and supports a number of gesture-based navigation and action which will enhance a macbook users experience. Although MacBook Pro has a slightly larger trackpad than Air.
6. Ports and Connectivity
Both models have two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with support for:
- Thunderbolt (up to 40Gb/s)
- USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s)
A photographer may not like it due to lack of SD card slot, but it is what it is.
Battery life is the MSP for MacBooks. It outranks windows laptop at any price points hands down. macOS on top of MacBook's incredible Power Management combined with power-packed dense batteries made them the perfect laptops out there. When comparing battery life between the two, Air boasts 49.9 Watt Hour Li-Po battery while Pro has a slightly larger battery of 58.2 Watt Hour LI-Po battery. But due to more power-hungry processors, Pro laptops last 1 to 1.5 hours lesser than MacBook Air.
Both models have a 720p camera which is more or less OK. Good for FaceTime video calls and Skype calls. Speakers are regarded as the most abysmal when it comes to Laptop. MacBook does a fair job here having a decent size speaker on both sides. In comparison, MacBook pro’s have larger speakers than Air.
When it comes to storage, both models start at 128 GB, doubling up on the next model i.e 256 GB, then pro can go up to 512 GB if you seriously need that storage. As usual, as mentioned in the starting of this post, Air can be configured up to 1 TB at the time of purchasing while Pro can go up to 2 TB. Seriously, that hell lot of storage for SSD. Folks, instead buy hard drives to store media.
10. Performance/Geekbench Scores
The final category to compare is the most important one, the performance. Geekbench scores are the best to compare them in terms of performance. In single-core, both go hand in hand but come multi-core performance, MacBook Pro totally demolishes Air due to being Quad-core device.
MacBook Air uses the lower grade Intel UHD Graphics 617 while at the same time base model of MacBook Pro uses Intel Iris plus Graphics 645 which is way better. Even, advancing to the subsequent model also gives the option of having AMD Radeon graphics which is really needed if you are into media creation.
Also, Macbook air has not copper heat pipe, no radiator just a little fan at the corner. The device gets to a high temperature of up to 100 degree Celsius if extensive work done for several minutes. Macbook Pro does a very good job in thermals when compared to Air. We can’t say Air gets throttled, but it does get affected.
If your budget is low, then MacBook Air is your absolute choice, but if you can extend your budget, MacBook Pro is a far better option to buy considering the number of its Pros.
Well, Air is marginally lighter in weight and has slightly better battery life but Macbook Pro has a way better screen, quad-core processor, excellent thermals, high-quality graphics which will give it a smooth performance for the years to come.