MacBook Air 2020: Thoughts from an average user
I’ve received my 2020 MacBook Air a few weeks ago already, and I thought it would be a good time to write down my first thoughts about it. For reference, from early 2015 to earlier this month, my main computer was an 11-inch MacBook Air: obviously the new one is getting compared to it a lot.
- I wanted the Silver colour for this laptop, and received the Space Gray. When I opened the box I immediately thought “Oh shit, they made a mistake” and started thinking if I should send it back and wait longer, or just accept the Space Gray that was delivered to me and enjoy my new computer right away. Turns out I ordered the Space Gray instead of the Silver, like an idiot.
- I find the new Retina design (2018 and 2020 basically share the same design) to be a bit bulkier than before: Maybe it is because I owned a 11-inch model before, but I don’t find it that thin, and the thin parts all around don’t really trick me to think it is an “ultra thin” laptop. Again, maybe it is unfair to compare it with the 11-inch from 2015, but I also find it heavy, not just heavier. Weird to think that “Air” doesn’t imply thinnest, lightest laptop of the lineup, even if it probably is now, since the 12-inch MacBook has been discontinued.1
- The black bezels around the screen seem to pick up more dust and fingerprints than I would like, but the display is very nice: sharp Retina details obviously, extremely good colours and contrast, nothing unexpected from an Apple laptop really, but still a nice upgrade from the 11-inch. The lid opens and closes by using only one finger, and the bottom of the laptop doesn’t move, a big little detail that I truly love about MacBooks.I would have liked to have more brightness available from time to time, but it is more than fine as it is. Also, it is my first Retina display Mac, and there is no going back. When I look at what is now my wife’s computer (which is now the 11-inch Air2), it feels way older than a five-year-old laptop.
- The keyboard is very close to the standalone Magic Keyboard — which means excellent — but slightly better: the keys are more stable and the sound is more satisfying: more of a “hoomf” than a “teeck.” The backlight is also very good: the light almost doesn’t leek outside the keys which feels very premium — something I ended up disliking about the 11-inch keyboard. No regret on the keyboard so far, only great satisfaction. Having Touch ID ready at any time is for me the best feature and works wonders with 1Password for instance.
- I was surprised to find that the trackpad is moving when clicked. I am pretty sure that the latest MacBook Pros and standalone Magic TrackPad seem to simulate the actual movement with haptic feedback, but this one definitely moves. There is a haptic feedback, but I can see it moving up and down when clicked, even if it is very subtle, unless it is pressed all the way down. I wonder what is the story behind this: maybe the MacBook Air are not as premium as the MacBook Pro. Regardless, the big trackpad is a joy to use, and I like that I can click on it everywhere and have the same clicky feeling. On my 11-inch MacBook Air, the trackpad was only diving down on the side facing me, which made clicking on the upper-side of the trackpad — the side facing the screen — difficult and not efficient. Nothing like this on the 2020 model.
- As you already know, I have very few apps installed on my machine, so I cannot really judge yet its level of performance: for what I do with it, my 11-inch was already good enough so I can only think that this one will last me for six or seven years, which makes this MacBook Air an extremely good deal. I also know the shitty white rubber material of the non-magnetic charging cable will not last me more than a year or two, and I find it a little too hard to unplug. Apple can and must do better with these cables.
- Did I mention how I just wish it was Silver like my iPhone 11, my previous 11-inch MacBook Air, my Magic Keyboard, my first 2007 iMac, my first iPhone 5 and basically all my Apple products ever, and not Space Gray? New era, I guess.
In the end, I am extremely satisfied with this machine. I wondered if I made the right call by picking another MacBook instead of going full iPad, especially with this new Magic Keyboard accessory. Price-wise, this MacBook Air costs around the same as an iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard, so it was not a question of money for me, but rather a question of how I use my main computer. In the end of day, for me, MacOS wins versus iPadOS, and the perfect laptop wins versus a perfect tablet able to turn into an OK laptop.