2020 MacBook Air vs. 2019 MacBook Air: What’s New and Different?

The MacBook Air has received its annual upgrade, with the 2020 model doubling the base storage and introducing a newer keyboard mechanism compared to the 2019 model. But is anything else different? Here’s a quick breakdown between the two models.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the MacBook Air (2020) is the new $1299 CAD price. Keep in mind, though, that the base 2020 model has a Core i3 CPU and a 256GB SSD compared with a Core i5 CPU and a 128GB SSD on the previous version.

As far as specifications go, there are quite a few shared features between the two laptops, but doubling the base storage to 256GB and adding 10th-gen CPUs with improved Intel Iris Plus graphics makes the 2020 MacBook Air a clear upgrade in the specs department.

There are only slight differences in the designs of the two laptops (except the keyboard), but the MacBook Air 2020 is just a tad thicker and heavier.

By far, however, the most eagerly anticipated update is the new MacBook Air’s Magic Keyboard with its functional scissor switches, replacing the unreliable butterfly switches used in the MacBook Air since the 2018 redesign. Not only is the new Magic Keyboard a more pleasant typing experience day-to-day, but it should keep working reliably for years to come. The MacBook Air remains free of the TouchBar, with just the Touch ID fingerprint reader in the top-right corner of the keyboard.

Overall, here’s what’s different about the 2020 MacBook Air:

  • Lower starting price
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Entry-level configuration features newer but lower-end dual-core Intel Core i3 CPU, though quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 upgrades are available
  • Faster RAM
  • Intel Iris Plus graphics
  • Entry-level configuration features 256GB SSD and there’s a new top-tier 2TB SSD upgrade available
  • Bluetooth 5.0

Here’s what’s unchanged with the 2020 MacBook Air:

  • Retina display
  • Chassis, design and weight
  • 720p webcam
  • Ports and connections

Nearly all of these changes, and especially the lower starting price, are indisputably positive steps forward. The only possible exception is that processor. The previous entry-level model featured Intel’s 8th-gen dual-core i5 CPU, while the new MacBook Air comes equipped with a 10th-gen dual-core Intel Core i3 chip. Stepping up to the Core i5 is almost certainly a worthwhile, and possibly essential, upgrade.

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Not only does the 2020 MacBook Air have more recent and powerful hardware, leading to better performance, it’s also launching at a lower price than the 2019 model. While we imagine the price of the 2019 MacBook Air will drop now that the 2020 model is available to buy, unless it drops by a huge amount, it’ll still be worth going for the newer model due to the power difference.

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