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Apple’s MacBook Lineup Doesn’t Make Sense

Sean Ng PackJanuary 01, 2019

It’s February of 2019 and Apple’s Macbook lineup doesn’t make sense.

Apple currently makes four lines of Macbooks: Macbook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13”, and MacBook Pro 15.” One would think the MacBook (12-inch) should be the cheapest option and the MacBook Air the lightest and thinnest, but that’s actually opposite. Let’s start with the Air.

MacBook Air

In January of 2008, Apply released the MacBook Air and marketed it as the the “world’s thinnest laptop.” The laptop was widely popular and became Apple’s best selling laptop. The body’s iconic tapered design later changed in 2011. But for seven years, the design remained until finally in October 2018, the MacBook Air was refreshed.

MacBook Air 2018

A lot happens in seven years, especially in computer hardware. The new Air now includes a Retina screen, a butterfly keyboard, a fingerprint sensor, and a slightly faster processor.

It is crazy that Apple was selling a $1,000 laptop for several years with outdated hardware, especially with its low-resolution TN-panel–and people were buying it. Oddly, both the new and old MacBook Airs are still being sold on their website.

MacBook (12-inch)

Apple released the MacBook in March of 2015 and it replaced the Air as the thinnest and lightest Apple laptop and that is still true today. Coming at 2.03 pounds and .52” thickness, the MacBook is 30% lighter and 16% thinner than the MacBook Air at its thickest point.

MacBook Pro (13-inch)

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is very confusing. So basically the base model is actually just the 2017 model and nothing has been touched. If you opt in for a touchbar, that changes the game and the new Intel quad core CPU is included.

MacBook Pro (15-inch)

Apple refreshed the 15-inch lineup in July 2018 with the new generation of intel 6-core processors, updated AMD GPU, and an array of minor tweaks. In late 2018 they sneakily gave the option to upgrade the laptop to the new AMD Vega chips which are vastly superior with much faster performance and greater thermal efficiency. This meant that people who bought the new 15-inch model at or near launch could not return their computers to update to the much better refresh with the newer graphics cards.

Choosing a laptop

Here’s where the main confusion and frustration happens. Say you’re looking for an Apple laptop and your budget is on the lower end of $1000. You have four choices, We have: MacBook($1300), MacBook Air, MacBook Air 2018, MacBook Pro 13-inch($1,300). If you want the lightest possible laptop, you’re probably going to want the MacBook but it comes with the fragile 2nd-generation butterfly keyboard  and underpowered hardware. Okay, so if you don’t care about the lightest and thinnest possible laptop, you have two options: MacBook Air 2018 and MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air 2018 has a couple pros, it has the newest 3rd-generation butterfly keyboard, TouchID, and is slightly lighter. For $100 more, the MacBook Pro nets massive benefits. The screen is much better for professional work and the hardware is much faster. But the MacBook Pro has the 2nd-generation keyboard. The tradeoffs you are making with each laptop is not clear, you have to be a MacBook nerd to really distinguish the pros and cons.

Wrapping it up

As of right now, the MacBook lineup doesn’t make sense. Consumers have a difficult time trying to decipher the pros and cons of each laptop and are probably going to default to buying the MacBook Air solely because of the reputation it has garnered over the years. Here’s what I think Apple should do to compartmentalize everything.

Starting with the MacBook Pros, update the 13-inch base model to have a quad core, then we can actually call it a professional computer in 2019. Next, rename the MacBook to the MacBook Air (12″). We can have the lightest laptop as part of the Air family. So no we have: MacBook Air (12″) as Apple’s lightest and most portable laptop, MacBook Air (13″) as the faster portable laptop, and the MacBook Pros as the professional computer for people who need the performance and better screen.


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