Apple announced the new MacBook lineup for 2020 several months ago, and one of them is the MacBook Air 2020, which we recently bought as a replacement to our MacBook Pro 2015. Is it a good buy? Find out in our review.
Design and Construction
From the get-go, you will not notice any difference between the 2020 model versus the 2018 MacBook Air, except when you open it and check out the keyboard.
Gone is Apple’s Butterfly Switch mechanism which was replaced with the Magic Keyboard which has more travel and better typing experience.
For the ports, you’ll only get two Type-C ports and a headphone jack, nothing more, nothing less. So, yeah, a USB-Type-C hub is recommended if you’re planning to connect lots of peripherals.
The unit I bought is the Space Gray variant, but it is also available in Silver and Gold – if you want to get fancy. Compared to the Space Gray MacBook, I like the Silver one more because it can handle scuffs and fingerprints better. Like with most new MacBooks, gone is the glowing Apple logo at the lid, which is replaced with a reflective one.
Display and Multimedia
Entertainment is one of the uses of my MacBook aside from work, so we watch a lot of YouTube and Netflix. The good thing about the MacBook Air 2020 is that it has a 13.3-inch IPS LCD Retina display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600, sharp enough for casual viewing.
Colors are vibrant and accurate with good viewing angles. The bezels are also narrow for a more pleasant viewing experience.
Complementing that screen is a pair of loudspeakers placed on the left and right-hand sides of the keyboard. Apple is known for equipping its MacBooks with great speakers and the MacBook Air 2020 is one of them. The audio can easily fill up a room even in half volume. There is an ample amount of bass present if you just want to use it as a Spotify speaker.
OS and Features
The MacBook Air 2020 runs on macOS but in this case, we installed the beta version of Big Sur. Again, it’s in beta so it’s still being refined. But so far, we’re liking the experience. It comes pre-installed with Pages, Spreadsheets, Keynote, and all of Apple’s utility apps.
Since it’s an Apple product, you’ll enjoy the interconnectivity between other devices in the ecosystem like the iPhone, iPad, or Watch. Other features include Touch-ID for biometrics and Apple’s haptic trackpad which is a force-sensitive trackpad for easier navigation of the system.
The MacBook that I got is the base model, which has the Intel Core i3 1.1GHz dual-core processor, coupled with an Intel Iris Plus Graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD.
I use the MacBook Air 2020 to edit videos on Final Cut Pro and I didn’t experience any lag while scrubbing through my timeline. There are no frame drops as well during playback of a 1080p video, which means the configuration is powerful enough to handle the said tasks. However, it’s a different experience when editing RAW 4K clips. Lags are frequent when scrubbing and doing a playback. But if you really need to edit 4K, we suggest creating optimized and proxy files for a smoother experience.
Aside from video editing, I can also do basic to advanced photo editing on Photoshop and all my basic day-to-day tasks. While the Core i3 dual-core, 8GB + 256GB configuration proved to be capable, you can go for the Intel Core i7 10th-gen with 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB SSD if you need more performance and storage space, but that will cost more.
Battery and Connectivity
The MacBook Air 2020 is equipped with a 5,100mAh battery. In our standard video loop test which involves playing a 1080p video on loop at 50% brightness, 50% volume with headphones, Airplane mode, and balanced power setting, the MacBook Air 2020 was able to give us 11 hours and 3 minutes of playback.
For connectivity, the MacBook Air 2020 has WiFi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0. As mentioned earlier, it only has two USB Type-C ports, so prepare your wallet as you will be compelled to spend on a hub or adapter to get more wired connectivity options.
So far, we’re liking the MacBook Air 2020 as it can handle our tasks given the limited hardware. If you’re a long-time Apple user, you can make this work and already understand the compromises. However, if this is your first time buying a MacBook, there are concerns that you need to take into consideration.
The first one is the ports. Again, you only got two USB Type-C ports so you will be forced to purchase dongles or hubs if you need the extra connectivity. The second is the poor 720p camera. For a 2020 laptop that costs a lot, it’s a mystery why Apple still equips its MacBooks with a low-quality FaceTime camera.
Let’s talk about the price. The base model MacBook Air 2020 with a 10th gen Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage costs PHP 57,990 at Authorized Apple Resellers here in the Philippines. Yes, it’s expensive if you compare it to Windows machines of the same specs, but then again, this is an Apple product. You’re not just buying the device, you’re also buying into an ecosystem, which is also expensive, if I may add.
So, who should get this laptop? The MacBook Air 2020 is a good recommendation for first-time MacBook owners who want the most affordable option in the 2020 lineup and will use it for light to moderate tasks. It becomes a more enticing recommendation if you already own a few Apple devices like an iPhone. But for creators who are looking for something more powerful to handle heavier workloads, we’d recommend getting the MacBook Pro instead.
Apple MacBook Air (2020) specs
13.3-inch Retina display with True Tone, 2560 x 1600p resolution
Up to 1.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz with 8MB L3 cache
256GB base storage, up to 2TB SSD
Up to 16GB RAM
720p FaceTime HD camera
2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
WiFi 802.11ac, 802.11a/b/g/n
3.5mm headphone jack
Scissor-switch Magic Keyboard
30.41cm x 21.24cm x 1.61cm
Gold, Space Gray, Silver