An ode to the 11-inch MacBook Air

I just placed an order for a 13-inch MacBook Pro (opens in new tab). It's the first Pro laptop I've purchased since 2009. For the last year, I've been using the iPad Pro, but before that, my Mac computer of choice — and perhaps my favorite Mac of all time — was the 11-inch MacBook Air.

After 6 years of faithful service, that 11-inch model is now dead, killed by Apple, the 12-inch MacBook, and increasingly thinner MacBook Pros. I'll miss it dearly. To add insult to injury, I don't even have a working model to add to my trove of past computers; my last 11-inch Air was horribly drowned by a spilled water bottle last year, so I have only its lifeless corpse to commemorate my all-time favorite laptop.

The 11-inch MacBook Air was too small of a computer for most everyone I knew; I had many friends who'd outright laugh or baffle at how I could read or type on such a teensy screen. But it was just right for me, especially going from the behemoth of a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Its lightweight and travel-sized body was the perfect fit for my changing lifestyle, especially when I began frequently traveling to tech events and visiting friends across the country.

True, it was often slow and painful to edit video on, and the lack of a Retina display saddened me as the years went on and the other Mac laptops got upgraded one by one. But it was a wonderful computer — a trooper and a good friend — and I'll miss it.

Perhaps the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, with its multitouch Touch Bar and Retina screen, will fill the gaping hole in my heart. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro and Logitech Create keyboard already has, to an extent; lacking a laptop, it's been my new travel computer for the last year, and while it's not a perfect substitute for a Mac, it's a great writing companion. (And it has both a better battery and supports the Apple Pencil, two things my Air certainly lacked.)

And I suppose if I really miss the form-factor, I could consider a 12-inch MacBook (opens in new tab), or even look at Apple's refurbished Macs (opens in new tab) for ultra-low 11-inch deals.

More likely, however, the 11-inch will join my other past computer loves — the hinge-arm iMac, my PowerBook Duo, and the original Bondi iMac — in my memories and Photos library as we move forward into the next era of portable computing.

Enjoy your place in Mac history, old pal. I'll miss you.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

  • miss the price point. badly.
  • Precisely. For many people, anything beyond the lowest-spec'd Mac Mini is simply unaffordable.
  • I can't even. My 11 inch MacBook Air was my favorite computer of every Apple laptop I have ever had in 15 years except for my Wall Street and Pismo. I don't think Tim Cook really gets the emotional elements of product design. It's depressing enough that both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, and really, the iPhone lately, have form factors that have barely changed over years. Or the terrible ergonomics of the Retina MacBooks for which Apple touted a thinness and a compactness of frame that ensures they will never be comfortable to use on an average-sized American lap. (Not to mention their dicey battery life in their first iteration.) Now we're supposed to get excited about Apple deprecating their computer line with the longest battery life and adding several hundred dollars to the cost of a MacBook Pro in order to have a half inch tall strip of a touchscreen? This is all just a sick joke to get Mac OS users to throw up their hands and go all in with iOS, right? Being an Apple fan over as many years as I have has never been easy. But if you look at the Apple Store right now, these are the kinds of prices and relatively mediocre specs compared to machines in the Windows world that we haven't seen in years, and it wasn't a good combination back then, either. I went all in with an iPad Pro 12.9 earlier this year, sold my Retina MacBook, and gave away my 11-inch MacBook Air. I've never looked back but I thought it would be interesting today to check out Apple's big laptop announcement. To me, it's all pretty shrug worthy. But it definitely makes me a lot happier with my decision.
  • Little guy didn't need a frickin dongle. Legend!!
  • Little guy had old ports. Dongles are only temporary during the transition to USB-C tech
  • R.I.P.
  • Makes me sad to see these go. The Mac mini and even more recently, the iPhone SE where what let me get into the Apple ecosystem at a reasonable price. The Air was a good place to start. Soon that will be gone and I don't know if apple will have anything at that price point here in Canada again. It was the push I needed to get a 13" Air next week though. I figure I better get one now or I will just have to pay much more later. I like the Air. I just have a Mac mini from 2012 I love still and iPhone SE. I have a iPad mini 2 also, but for away from home I still would like something light. The MacBook just isn't for me though, so I'm glad I still have a chance to get the 13" Air here next week.
  • I really love my 2014 MBA 11. When I got it, I didn't expect to love it as much as I do. It was a little small at first, but now if I ever sit down at a 13-inch, I'm like, "MY GOD WHAT IS THIS ENORMOUS, UNWIELDY THING?" Just about everything I use it for is browser based, so I expect it to last me for a few more years.
  • You couldn't be more right. I don't edit video or use photoshop -- I use text-terminals (with Function Keys!), log in to remote systems, and read email and use a browser. For me, I wanted a machine small enough and light enough that I never had an excuse to not have it with me. And when I needed it, enough power to get work done. The current macbooks are not this. I've just bought a refurbished 2011 11-inch Air -- which at least gets me three more years of Applecare. Maybe in that time, Apple will realize people want something both small *and* performant. Also, if I may, Magsafe was amazing! What would have been wrong with keeping magsafe *or* USB charging as an option?
  • Writing this currently on a 11" Macbook Air 2013 i7. It's the best laptop I've ever bought. I would say it's the best tech device I've ever bought. It's so small and has enough power to compete with the highest new Macbook Pro 13" (its CPU is 10% faster than their entry 13" model and only 16% slower than their maxed out 13" Macbook Pro from 2016). I use it nowadays mostly at home (just plug 2-3 cables inside) with a 32" monitor (yes that's possible). And when I'm on the go I can use it easily on the train, plane or wherever and I have desktop like performance with only 1.1kg and a small casing. Actually there is no Mac model which can replace the 11" one. The next generation 12" which will probably get out early 2017 will have 10-25% less performance (25% when throttled) than my 11" i7 from 2013. So the only way I can upgrade is buying a larger 13" Macbook Pro with an i7 (which is a bit expensive). So a new one would be either bigger or would have less performance. I want performance and a small laptop... the 11" inch was this kind of Laptop and now it has no (re)placement in the Apple's vision of laptops.