Why does Apple keep putting a crummy FaceTime camera on its MacBooks?

MacBook Air 2020 Gold
MacBook Air 2020 Gold (Image credit: Apple)

Apple Macbook Air (2020)

Apple Macbook Air (2020) (Image credit: Apple)

Yesterday, March 18, was a terrific day for those of us who cover Apple. Being able, at least for a little while, to pivot away from the worldwide pandemic and focus on a new iPad Pro and MacBook Air was thrilling. Better still, both products bring to the table excellent new features we can't wait to test and discuss with our readers in the coming weeks.

Despite this, we're shaking our heads about Apple's continued insistence on dumbing down the MacBook experience by sticking with an inferior camera.

MacBook Air: Good, great even, except for ...

There's no denying, the MacBook Air (2020) is a terrific upgrade from last year's model. From the inclusion of brand new Intel i7 processors that can deliver up to 80 percent faster graphics performance for those who want to pay extra to the Apple Magic Keyboard from the 16-inch MacBook Pro, this year's MacBook Air is worth considering. Apple's decision to drop the entry-level price to $999 is a nice pile-on.

And yet, we need to talk about the laptop's familiar camera. Like it does on the MacBook Pro, Apple offers a paltry 720p FaceTime HD camera on the MacBook Air (2020). By comparison, the new iPad Pro includes a 7MP TrueDepth camera with 1080p HD video recording and 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide back cameras.

As Rene Ritchie questioned rhetorically in a weekly iMore meeting soon after Apple revealed the new MacBook Air, how can a company that offers ever-improving cameras on both iPhone and iPad also produce the cameras found on MacBooks?

The question, of course, only has one answer: It shouldn't be, but it still does.

A familiar move

Apple has often made truly bizarre cost-cutting moves when it comes to hardware. For years, for example, the company has insisted on having entry-level iPhones with 16GB of storage. Including an outdated 5W USB Power Adapter with iPhones is another classic Apple move as is removing extensions from Mac power adapters.

Moving forward

Perhaps very soon (hello, new MacBooks Pros), Apple will either update the FaceTime camera found on its laptops or give us a choice. As it stands, shame, shame, Cupertino.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.