Today Apple made a lot of long-awaited announcements. In particular, the first new iPads in well over a year, and the first new MacBook Air and Mac Mini in years. Also exciting is that both of their new Macs are using 100% recycled aluminum and they have reduced their carbon footprint by about 50%. Here’s a quick rundown on the announcements: what, when, how much.
Starting at $1,199 / 8 GB RAM / 1.6GHz core i5 / 128 GB SSD
Preorders start today, delivery begins November 7 apple.com/macbook-air
After three years of no significant updates (the 2017 model was just a 2015 model but they removed the lower-end processor option and gave it a new name), the very popular MacBook Air finally gets some love. They addressed my biggest complaint by finally adding a Retina display. And with two USB-C ports they are addressing my biggest issue with the 12″ MacBook.
- Retina display (finally!)
- Two Thunderbolt-3 USB-C ports, headphone jack
- Touch ID
- Reduced bezels like recent MacBook Pros
- 3rd-generation backlit butterfly keyboard
- 20% larger force touch trackpad
- Configurable up to 16 GB RAM (+$200)
- Configurable up to 1.5 TB SSD (+$1,200)
- Audio volume is twice as loud as previous generation
- 10% thinner, 17% less volume than previous generation
- 2.75 pounds, ¼ pound less than previous generation
Starting at $799 / 8GB RAM / 3.6GHz Quad-Core i3 / 128GB SSD
Preorders start today, delivery begins November 7 apple.com/mac-mini
After four years of no news, Apple has finally released an update to the Mac Mini. And update it they did. It’s now up to five times faster than the previous generation, and they are keeping lots of legacy ports while introducing the new ones.
- 4 Thunderbolt-3 USB-C, 2 USB-A ports, HDMI, ethernet, headphone jack
- Configurable with 6-Core i7 (+$400)
- Configurable up to 64GB 2600MHz RAM, user-upgradeable (+$1,400)
- All-flash storage, up to 2 TB (+$1,600)
- Ethernet configurable up to 10Gbps (+$100)
11-inch 64GB model starts at $799
12.9-inch 64GB model starts at $999
Preorders begin today, delivery begins November 7 apple.com/ipad-pro
As before the iPad Pro comes in two sizes. Reduced bezels allow an 11-inch screen on same size body as the old 10.5-inch model. The 12.9-inch model has same size screen as the last 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but the volume has been reduced by 25%, making it roughly the same size as an 8.5×11 piece of paper.
- Dramatically reduced bezels, in the style of iPhone X and XR
- Face ID, works from any rotation
- Liquid Retina display, similar to iPhone XR
- 15% thinner
- 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU is up to 90% faster than 2017 iPad Pro, rivals notebook i7 processors
- 2x graphics performance (1,000x faster than original iPad), rivals Xbox One S graphics performance
- Configurable up to 1 TB storage
- USB-C allows accessories such as 5K monitor, cameras, etc.
- USB-C to Lightning cable can be used to charge your iPhone, turning your iPad into a battery pack
- 2nd Gen Apple Pencil charges and pairs wirelessly with magnetic connection, compatible only with new iPad Pro, $129
- Smart Keyboard Folio is more versatile, $179 / $199
- 1-meter USB-C Charge Cable, $19
- USB-C to SD Card Reader for USB-C MacBooks and iPad Pro, $39
- USB-C to Headphone adapter for iPad Pro (MacBooks all have a headphone jack still), $9
- Smart Folio for 12.9″ iPad Pro (no keyboard), $99
- Smart Folio for 11″ iPad Pro (no keyboard), $79
- Last year’s 10.5″ iPad Pro reduced in price to $649
Choosing your specs
If you’re ready to buy one of these new computers, luckily there aren’t a whole lot of confusing options to choose from.
- Processor: Most people give too much thought to this. Unless you do a lot in multimedia you won’t notice much of a difference between the low-end or the high-end. So unless you know you need the extra power just go for the lower speed. But if you feel like throwing in the extra dough go for it. Though the MacBook Air makes this decision easy: it doesn’t come with any processor options at all.
- Memory: If you can afford to upgrade to 16 GB do it, especially on the MacBook Air which cannot be upgraded later. Though 8 GB is probably enough for most people today it might not be in a few years when software gets more complex. It’s a small price to pay to help future-proof your device. The Mac Mini can be upgraded in the future, though the 16 GB upgrade is pretty affordable.
- Storage: Normally I recommend you take a look at how much storage you’re using now and get at least twice that. You can find your current usage in the Apple menu > About this Mac > Storage. You cannot upgrade the storage later so you need to get enough to last you the life of the computer, which could easily be 5 to 10 years. And in the future as cameras get higher quality and we have bigger and more complex files you’ll need more.
- AppleCare+: Normally I don’t recommend extended warranties, but AppleCare is something to consider as it also includes insurance and repairs can be quite costly without it. I’m not saying I recommend it necessarily, but those of you with children, animals, or butterfingers might sleep easier at night knowing a glass of water dumped on your computer is only going to set you back a small deductible. This might be less of a concern with the Mac Mini, since it’s more likely that you’d just be able to replace the keyboard.