Today in conjunction with the kickoff of its Back to School promotion, Apple has announced significant changes to its laptop lineup, updating the MacBook Air and entry-level MacBook Pro while discontinuing the smallest Mac laptop, the 12-inch MacBook.
The MacBook Air, which Apple recently introduced a modern update to, has added True Tone to its display, but received no other changes of note. However, the bigger news for the MacBook Air is that it's receiving a price cut: formerly starting at $1,199, the new model begins at $1,099, and shoppers qualifying for an Apple education discount can purchase the device for $999.
The MacBook Pro is seeing more substantial changes. Apple no longer sells a MacBook Pro without Touch Bar; the entry-level 13-inch model, which still starts at $1,299, now includes both the Touch Bar and Touch ID. The device has also been updated to include the latest 8th-generation quad-core Intel processors, True Tone, improved stereo speakers, and Apple's T2 Security Chip, which continues making its way across the entire Mac product line. Education buyers can purchase the MacBook Pro starting at $1,199.
It's rare to see such significant upgrades for an entry-level Mac model, but the changes make sense when considering how Apple has reconfigured its laptop line as a whole. The former entry-level MacBook Pro was originally positioned by Apple as a successor to the MacBook Air. That identity clearly didn't stick, however, as after years of neglect Apple breathed new life into the Air model last fall. With a modern MacBook Air available, the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar merely added confusion to the laptop lineup.
Now, Apple's lineup of notebooks is simplified and more cohesive to the average buyer. The MacBook Air is the most affordable, best all-purpose machine at $1,099, while the entry-level MacBook Pro at $1,299 includes attributes of the higher-end Pro line such as the Touch Bar. There remain more expensive 13-inch Pro models, as well as the existing 15-inch models, but laptop shoppers now have much clearer options before them.
This new simplicity in the product line would have been incomplete apart from the third big change today: the death of the 12-inch MacBook. Ironically, the device that pushed the design ethos of the Air line even further – being the thinnest, lightest laptop Apple made – has been rendered irrelevant by Apple now that the Air line has been revitalized.
As must be noted in any coverage of new Apple laptops, it's important to state that the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models both retain the butterfly mechanism keyboard. They have officially been added to Apple's keyboard service program, along with all other butterfly keyboard laptops.
If you're interested in purchasing a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro for school, not only are education discounts available, but Apple's Back to School promotion is also offering free accessories with qualifying purchases, such as a pair of Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones.