MacBook Air 2020 vs 2019: What’s the difference?

Gadgets



The MacBook Air has received its annual upgrade, with the 2020 model doubling the base storage and introducing a newer keyboard mechanism compared to the 2019 model. But is anything else different? Here’s a quick-glance comparison between 2020 and 2019 MacBook Air models.

Design & Display

  • Both models: 13.3-inch ‘Retina display’ (2560 x 1600 resolution)
  • 2020 model: 40g heavier than 2019 version, at 1.29kgs
  • Both models: Gold, Silver, Space Grey finish options
  • Both models: 15.6mm thickness, same design
  • Both models: 1x 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Both models: 2x Thunderbolt 3 ports

At a glance both 2020 and 2019 MacBook Air models look identical. The same scale, same colour options, same screen – it’s all the same.

There’s some subtle difference though. The 2020 model is 40g heavier, plus can support an external monitor to 6K (6016 x 3384) rather than the 5K support from the 2019 model.

In terms of ports, the 2020 Air sticks to its guns: that means the usual two Thunderbolt 3 ports, no additions this time around. The headphone jack is still in place, too.

That also means no improvement to the FaceTime camera: it’s still only 720p capable.

Keyboard & Trackpad

  • 2020 model: Magic Keyboard with redesigned scissor mechanism
  • 2019 model: Third-gen butterfly mechanism keyboard
  • Both models: Large trackpad with Force Touch
  • Both models: Touch ID fingerprint login

This is where the biggest change can be seen. The 2020 Air utilises a Magic Keyboard, the same kind you’ll find in the 16-inch MacBook from the tail-end of 2019. It’s an important change, as the redesigned scissor mechanism here we found far superior than the butterfly mechanism of the earlier Air keyboards, which should mean less phantom typing. That said, we thought the 2019 Air’s keyboard was much improved over the 2018 model.

Elsewhere both models have the same large trackpad design with Force Touch dual-layer control, plus Touch ID fingerprint login. There’s still no Face ID facial recognition login however.

Specification

  • 2020 model: Entry-level processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i3 (1.1GHz dual-core)
  • 2020 model: Maximum processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i7 (1.2GHz quad-core)
  • 2019 model: Only processor option: 8th Gen Intel Core i5 (1.6GHz dual-core)
  • 2020 model: 8GB base RAM (16GB upgrade), 256GB base storage (2TB max)
  • 2019 model: 8GB base RAM (16GB option), 128GB base storage (1.5TB max)
  • 2020 model: Intel Iris Plus Graphics / 2019 model: Intel UHD Graphics 617

The 2020 Air also ramps up the base specification a little, by doubling the storage from 128GB to 256GB. It’s also possible to upgrade to 2TB, rather than 1.5TB, if you want to spend the extra cash.

On the processor front, the standard Intel Core i5 processor of the 2019 Air becomes an Intel Core i3, which also brings with it a £100/$100/€100 saving: the 2020 MacBook Air isn’t quite as expensive, despite having more storage on board.

That said, you can make the 2020 model more expensive, as the processor is upgradable to an Intel Core i7 model, if you want the extra pep and twice as many cores for some more computationally demanding apps and processes.

Battery life is one area that we’re unsure how these models will compare: the 2020 Air should last longer thanks to newer and more efficient processor hardware, unless, of course, you pick the more powerful processor upgrade. Some suggest that the newer model will deliver a slight downturn in battery performance though.

Conclusion

  • 2020 MacBook Air: From £999/$999/€999
  • 2019 MacBook Air: From £1,099/$1,099/€1,099

The newer Air doesn’t bring with it an ultimate redesign, nor more ports to bolster the experience. What it savvily does, however, is bring all the goodness of before, plus more storage, and a better keyboard, for less cash.

It positions the Air in a more sensible place, giving the changing times of the Apple line-up – not to mention how the iPad Pro could also impact on customers’ choices.





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