What you need to know

  • MacBook Air updated with TrueTone display, price dropped to $1,099 ($999 for students).
  • Base-model MacBook Pro updated with Touch Bar, Touch ID, and Coffee Lake processors for the same $1,299 ($1,199 for students)
  • 12-inch MacBook discontinued.

Apple is revving the MacBook Air, introduced last October, with a TrueTone display. Rather than update the other specs, though, Apple is pushing the price down to $1099. The "MacBook Escape" is also getting updated to full-on "MacBook No-Escape" with Touch Bar, Touch ID, and 8th gen Intel Coffee Lake processors, all for the same $1299.

Both are also getting the same, updated third-generation butterfly keyboard that debuted with the MacBook Pro revisions earlier this year.

And, since this is back to school season, Apple is giving students $100 off and throwing in a pair of Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones with the purchase of a qualifying MacBook or iMac.

From Apple's senior director of Mac Product Marketing, Tom Boger:

"College students love the Mac — it's the notebook they rely on from the dorm room to the classroom, and the No. 1 choice among higher education students. With a lower $999 student price for MacBook Air and the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with faster performance, Touch Bar and Touch ID at $1,199 for students, there's never been a better time to bring a Mac to college."

Apple has also removed the 12-inch MacBook from its laptop lineup. The 12-inch, which debuted in 2015 but didn't get anything more than a slightly tweaked gold color update in 2018, was lighter and more powerful than the Air but more expensive as well, and it lacked modern security hardware like the T2 chip and Touch ID and, you know, a second USB-C port or any Thunderbolt compatibility.

Removing it greatly simplifies Apple's MacBook story.

Apple has also effectively killed the so-called "MacBook Escape" with this update. Previously, the lowest-end MacBook Pro didn't have a Touch Bar or Touch ID but rather a good, old-fashioned ESC and function key row. People who didn't care for the Touch Bar but wanted something more than the Air liked the option.

Now, it's Touch Bars across the MacBook Pro lineup. So, you gotta love it, like it, ignore it, or go with a MacBook Air.

What's especially interesting with these updates is that, unlike the higher-end MacBook Pro updates earlier in the year, Apple didn't push for the latest, faster silicon. For the MacBook Air, they chose instead to keep the same chipsets and drop the price. For the MacBook Pro, they chose the 8th instead of 9th generation — Coffee Lake instead of Coffee Lake Refresh) — but added the Touch Bar, Touch ID, and T2 hardware, and kept the price the same.

I think that shows a great sensitivity to entry-level pricing but also a pragmatism over which specs mean the most at which ends of the lineup.

But let me know what you think.

VECTOR | Rene Ritchie


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