Before Monday’s 13-inch MacBook Pro update, the choice between the 2019 model and the MacBook Air 2020 was very clear. It’s less clear today, but we can help.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are similarly positioned in some ways, but there are still key differences.
Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro on Monday. While it’s not the 14-inch redesign that some have been waiting for, the new models still contain a solid update on the popular and smaller MacBook Pro.
The new 13-inch MacBook Pro has made purchasing decisions for Apple laptops a bit more complicated. With that in mind, here’s how the new 13-inch MacBook Pro models compare to the existing MacBook Air – and which model you should buy for your own needs.
MacBook Pro 13 inch 2020 vs MacBook Air 2020 – Specifications
The 13-inch MacBook Pro sits right between the consumer MacBook Air and the beefy 16-inch MacBook Pro. While Apple’s 13-inch 2020 models can be configured with 10th generation Intel chips, only high-end variants get them.
Apple’s MacBook Pro models with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which start at $ 1,299, are still equipped with older 8th generation Intel Core processors and integrated Intel Iris Plus 645 graphics.
With the update of the company’s MacBook Air 2020, Apple’s most affordable laptop is much more similar to the Pro models. The $ 999 laptop now contains 10th generation quad-core Intel Core processors and updated Intel Iris Plus graphics.
Keep in mind, however, that the MacBook Air is equipped with low-power Y-series chips, optimized for productivity and energy efficiency tasks. Low-end MacBook Pros are equipped with faster Intel U-series processors.
Apple Butterfly Keyboard vs. Magic Keyboard
The 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro update completed Apple’s transition to the magic keyboard from the much-maligned butterfly keyboard. The company no longer sells MacBooks with the butterfly switch.
This means that you will see a longer key stroke and probably fewer cases of keyboard malfunction compared to 2018 and earlier versions. Apple’s new magic keyboards are also quieter than the clickable butterfly keyboard, especially previous models.
The MacBook Air’s magic keyboards and the new MacBook Pros will be similar, if not identical. Like the 16-inch model, the new 13-inch MacBook Pros also have a dedicated escape key, a discreet Touch ID sensor and reverse T-arrow keys.
The only significant difference between Air and Pro in this area is the OLED touch bar. The MacBook Air still has physical function keys, while all MacBook Pro models come with the Touch Bar.
Display, ports and battery life
The 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air both have essentially the same screen, which measures 13.3 inches diagonally and comes with IPS technology. Even the resolution is the same, although the MacBook Pro models are compatible with Wide Color (P3) and are slightly brighter.
The port situation differs depending on the configuration. MacBook Airs will only come with two ports, just like low-end 13-inch MacBook Pros. The high-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at $ 1,799, has four Thunderbolt 3 ports.
When it comes to power, the MacBook Air has a smaller battery but a longer lifespan thanks to its energy-efficient processor. According to Apple, it is rated up to 11 hours of wireless web browsing or up to 12 hours of movie playback on the Apple TV app.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro models are designed for up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing and 10 hours of movie playback on the Apple TV app. The pros also come with a larger power adapter – 61 watts compared to the 30 watts of the MacBook Air.
Apple has added more option configuration options to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, including variants that support up to 32 GB of RAM and 4 TB of SSD storage.
At the base level, the 13-inch two-port MacBook Pro is equipped with a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM. It’s exactly the same as the base MacBook Air model, which is about $ 300 cheaper.
Also keep in mind that the base 13-inch MacBook Pro model, which starts at $ 1,299, has slower LPDDR3 memory. The $ 1,799 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are equipped with LPDDR4X memory.
If you want to optimize your Apple laptop, keep in mind that only the high-end 13-inch MacBook Pro can be configured with up to 4 TB of SSD storage and 32 GB of RAM.
Which you should buy
The latest versions of the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are now much more similar than they have been in the past, which could make their choice somewhat difficult.
In general, you will get better performance with high-end MacBook Pro models, which makes it well suited for professional or creative tasks. While not as beefy as its 16-inch counterpart, the 13-inch MacBook Pro offers plenty of power in a smaller, more portable format.
The outlier here is the low-end MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which lags behind in terms of CPU and graphics. We recommend skipping it for the MacBook Air, unless you absolutely need an OLED touch bar, Wide Color support, or an additional 100 nits of brightness.
The MacBook Air is a lot cheaper and probably the best choice for the everyday consumer who doesn’t launch Logic or FinalCut Pro often (or not at all). Apple’s cheapest notebook is still fast enough to handle all the web browsing, video, and email checking you can throw at it.
Again, if you need faster performance and deeper pockets, go for the 13-inch MacBook Pro starting at $ 1,799. For everyone, the $ 999 MacBook Air is probably the best choice and much more affordable.
Shopping price comparison
Offers are valid on the MacBook Air 2020 and the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2020, with the latest discounts available 24/7 in the Appleiphonestop Apple Price Guide.