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Grow Your Business Technology

Should I Buy a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro?

MacBook Pro 2018
Credit: Apple

Apple's newly released version of the MacBook Air has made the choice between buying a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air tougher than ever before. Prior to this latest release, users who wanted a pixel-dense Retina display had to opt for a MacBook Pro, but the new MacBook Air sports a retina display too.

If you're currently in the market for a high-end Apple laptop, here's what you need to know about the new MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro.

Credit: Apple

The new 13-inch MacBook Air, with Retina display, starts at $1,199

Credit: Apple

The 13-inch MacBook Pro, which also sports a Retina display, starts at $1,299.

There are lots of upgrades available for the Air and Pro. If you opt for the MacBook Air and upgrade it to the highest degree (16GB RAM, 1.5TB SSD) it will cost you $2,599 before tax. If you go for the 13-inch MacBook Pro and upgrade it to the highest possible specs (TouchID, Touch Bar, Quad Core 8th Generation Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSD) you'll end up paying $3,699 before tax.

When the MacBook Air debuted, it made headlines for its slim design, but both the Air and Pro are lightweight enough to be used as portable devices. The ultra-lightweight MacBook Air weighs in at 2.75 pounds while the 13-inch MacBook Pro weighs 3.02 pounds. However, it might surprise you to learn that the MacBook Pro is slimmer (0.59 inches) than the MacBook Air (0.61 inches).

The other thing to keep in mind is that the MacBook Pro is offered in a 15-inch version, whereas the MacBook Air only comes in a 13-inch design. So, if screen size is paramount you may want to shell out a little extra cash for the 15-inch Pro (starts at $2,399).

When you compare the entry-level machines in both the Air and Pro lines, they are quite similar. The MacBook air has a 1.6-GHz 8th generation Intel Core i5 CPU and the MacBook Pro has a 2.3-GHz dual core 7th generation Intel Core i5 CPU. Both machines come with 8GB RAM standard and 128 GB SSD, and of course both have the Retina display.

Aside from the customization options and size, these are the biggest differentiators between the Air and Pro lines.

Touch Bar: One noticeable difference between the Air and Pro is the inclusion of the Touch Bar on the higher end MacBook Pro (starts at $1,799). While both lines feature Touch ID, only the highest end Pro line has the Touch Bar. The touch bar is just above the keyboard and it functions as a kind of dynamic shortcut panel. While it has been largely panned by tech critics, some users may enjoy the convenience it provides.

Ports: The MacBook Air has two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports as does the entry level MacBook Pro. The higher end MacBook Pro, however, has four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, and for some users that reason enough to upgrade.

Color: While it doesn't impact usability at all, it's worth noting that the MacBook Air comes in three colors (gold, silver or space grey) while the MacBook Pro comes in just two (silver or space grey).

Battery life: According to Apple the MacBook Air has a battery life of between 12 and 13 hours whereas the MacBook Pro is said to have a more limited life of 10 hours.

The MacBook Pro can be upgraded to a higher level than the MacBook Air, and this is the primary reason some users opt for the Pro instead of the Air. However, the MacBook Air is an excellent machine, too.

If your main aim is to score a beautiful Apple laptop to stream media, go online, do some work and shop online, there is no reason for you to shell out for a MacBook Pro. Never buy a higher end version of a laptop simply because it's higher end. For most users the MacBook Air is an excellent choice; only those with specific needs (like design professionals) should go for a top of the line MacBook Pro.

Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT Technician, a Copywriter, a Software Administrator, a Scheduling Manager and an Editorial Writer. Mona began freelance writing full-time in 2014 and joined the Business.com team in 2017.