The current design of the MacBook Air was a big deal when it was unveiled back in 2010. Its construction and design were a major improvement over previous Airs, it was Apple’s first Mac to go with solid-state storage across the lineup, and it came with a price drop that made them palatable to people who otherwise would have just bought a vanilla MacBook. The MacBook Pro soon imitated the Air by getting thinner, moving to standard SSDs, and dumping stuff like FireWire and the optical drive. And the new MacBook takes the qualities of the Air—thin, light, minimalist—to their logical extremes.
Unfortunately, as the rest of the MacBook lineup and the wider PC industry has shifted around it, the Air’s design has stood still. Visually, there is absolutely nothing to distinguish the 2015 MacBook Air from the 2013/2014 model that preceded it. Functionally, the differences are relatively minor. You swap out Intel’s Haswell processors for newer Broadwell equivalents, which provide a speed increase but not a big one. The Thunderbolt port now uses Thunderbolt 2. Battery life, the biggest improvement in the 2013 Air, is about the same.
There are a few notable things about this update—we ran the Air through our standard battery of tests and have all the data you need below—but unfortunately it doesn’t do much to bring this once-forward-thinking design into an era where its best qualities have been co-opted and improved upon by other laptops.
2010’s laptop in 2015