2020 feels forever ago, and it’s hard to imagine that in those 12 months I managed to buy two different MacBook Air models. But that’s what happens when, at first, you really need to upgrade, and then, by the end of the year, Apple intrigues you enough to grab your interest all over again.
When Apple unveiled the brand new M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro before the end of 2020, I was perfectly happy with my early-2020 MacBook Air. When I had upgraded to that computer earlier in the year, I was still using a launch, entry-level 12-inch MacBook. While that computer still worked pretty well for the most part, there were some infuriating moments during work days that were becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore. So when the new MacBook Air was launched, I went for it.
It didn’t take long before the rumors of yet another new MacBook Air started cropping up, though. The rumor mill was starting to paint a picture of an Apple Silicon MacBook Air that would probably net plenty of benefits compared to its Intel-based brethren. Still, the early-2020 MacBook Air was working just fine and, even if Apple did announce a new variant, I wasn’t particularly all that excited about it.
Fast forward through 2020 and, finally, Apple unveils the new hardware. Most of the attention was paid to the M1 processor, as it should be. Especially when the new-new MacBook Air looks exactly like the previously-new MacBook Air. But then the company touched on the improved battery life compared to the laptop I was using at the moment to cover the event, and my ears perked up. I’m not a huge fan of keeping my laptop plugged in all the time, and I usually work away from home when I can (a particularly difficult thing during a pandemic). So gaining six additional hours right out of the box seemed too good to be true.
And, I’ll be honest: I didn’t really believe Apple when they said this. I know they have their tests and it’s not like I would say they were lying. However — six more hours!?
I had to try it.
So I took the leap and I went for it, securing myself a new, base model M1 MacBook Air on launch day. The first few days I didn’t even really pay attention to the battery because I wasn’t planning on leaving the homestead. But then, at the tail end of the work week, I decided to give it a real shot. To test it out and see if the new M1 MacBook Air could live up to the hype, and, ultimately, win me over.
As you’ve guessed from the title, the M1 MacBook Air did win me over. The battery life on this laptop is insane. I know there’s been a lot said about the performance of the new laptops (and the Mac mini equipped with Apple’s silicon), and those things are all true. The new M1 MacBook Air is a performance beast, and it’s absolutely the new benchmark for laptops of this sort.
But it’s the battery life that actually got me to keep the thing.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. I unplug the M1 MacBook Air on a Thursday at 8:07 AM, when it’s at 100%. I start the work day right then and there, and my laptop’s screen is basically always on from that point forward. I let it rest between 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM on Thursday to eat food. But, aside from that brief break, the MacBook Air is used for running a few different apps all day long, Safari running with multiple tabs and two windows all day long, watching several different YouTube videos, Slack, Discord, the Messages app, and whatever other random things that cropped up throughout the day.
It definitely included watching some of Ted Lasso, too. If you haven’t watch this show yet, you really should.
By the end of the first day, the battery is at 87%. I repeat that process on Friday, too. While the weekend rolls around I use the laptop a few times, sparingly, on Saturday and on Sunday, with some more YouTube videos and a lot more writing. My battery finally reached 25% on the following Monday — at 11:08 AM. And that’s been my experience on a regular basis. This battery just refuses to quit on me and it’s amazing.
I can’t say whether or not one particular element of a laptop (or any device for that matter) is worth an upgrade. That’s entirely up to you and your situation. But, for me, I was more than happy to see the Intel-based MacBook Air get traded in at Apple for the new option. The company actually pulled off the transition to its own processor for its computers — and the MacBook Pro gets even better battery life! Too bad I don’t want to live with that Touch Bar, though.
If you picked up a new M1 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, how are you liking the new machine(s)? Have you noticed the much improved battery life?