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Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013 review

Andy Vandervell

By

Updated:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013
  • Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Outstanding battery life
  • Sublime design and build quality
  • Cool and quiet
  • Future proof 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Screen res a little disappointing
  • Limited physical connectivity

Best Deals for Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013

  • ebay

Key Features

  • 13.3-inch, 1,440 x 900
  • 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • Intel HD 5000 graphics
  • 1.35kg
  • Manufacturer: Apple
  • Review Price: £949.00

What is the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013?

The MacBook Air is what passes for Apple's 'entry-level' laptop these days. The 13-inch version, which weighs just 1.35kg and costs £950, is hardly 'entry-level' by normal standards, but the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air is one of the few Apple products you can call good value with a straight face.

Indeed, this year's update is £50 cheaper than the 2012 Apple MacBook Air 13-inch, and a combination of a larger battery and Intel's new, more efficient, Haswell processors sees Apple increase the claimed battery life from seven hours to a scarcely believable 12 hours.

Has Apple set the standard for Windows-based Ultrabooks to follow again, and should existing owners upgrade? Let's find out.

Watch our 2013 MacBook Air video review

See our best laptop round-up for more options

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2013) - Design & Build Quality

We can't think of any way to improve the MacBook Air's design, and clearly Apple can't either. This design is several years old now, but it's still to our eyes the most attractive, refined laptop in its class.

Its aluminium unibody frame weighs just 1.35kg, and is just 17mm at its thickest point. The build quality is supreme, too. The hinge is smooth, the fit and finish faultless. It's ridiculous that you can buy a laptop this nice for 'just' £950.

Weaknesses? Physical connectivity is limited to a couple of USB 3 ports, a Thunderbolt 2/mini-DisplayPort and an SD card slot, but it's enough to get by on. Complaints about the lack of Ethernet seem petty now. Anyone determined to work in the park in summer will find the aluminium body ill-suited to the task, but it says a lot that you have think that hard to find fault.

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (2013) - Screen Quality

It's harder to make the same case for the screen. Don't mistake us, the 1,440 x 900 resolution screen is very good. Colours are rich, blacks are remarkably clean and deep, and the viewing angle is good.

It's decent in bright light despite its 'glossy' finish. Decent by the standard of glossy screens at least; it's not a patch on the Samsung Series 9 NP900X3D and its exceedingly bright anti-glare screen in this regard.

It's the resolution that's the real let down, however. We never expected a retina resolution, least of all at this price, but a small bump to 1,680 x 1,050 or a 1080p screen feels in order. We suspect Apple's hands are tied here as any meaningful upgrade would require a switch to more widely manufactured 16:9 ratio screens, as opposed to Apple's preferred 16:10 aspect.

That doesn't dampen our yearning for something better, though. With the likes of the Dell XPS Duo 12 and the Acer Aspire S7 13-inch available at the same price with 1080p screens, the MacBook has fallen behind in this area. Not dramatically so, but enough for us to take note.

Best Deals for Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013

  • ebay

It's not me!

June 21, 2013, 6:00 pm

I don't think its Thunderbolt 2......

Guest

June 21, 2013, 7:18 pm

No surprises. I can wait until the next iteration.

Thanong

June 21, 2013, 9:50 pm

Decreasing clock speed from 1.7 GHz to 1.3 GHz means 23.5% decrease in clock speed !! not 15% decrease as shown in this article.

DigitalFury

June 22, 2013, 8:25 am

"Apple sets the standard once again"

Not really, you need to actually test the new Sony Vaio Pro 13.

I'm a MacBook Pro Retina 2013 user myself, but no way I would buy this new Air over the Pro 13.

andyvan

June 22, 2013, 9:59 pm

You're totally right. I'm better at words than maths it appears.

Hamish Campbell

June 24, 2013, 1:26 pm

Don't want to give an indication on what areas it wins up against this?

andyvan

June 25, 2013, 1:30 pm

We've got the Pro 13 in at the moment, so we'll have a review soon. I'm not reviewing it, but there are a few key differences. It uses the slower Intel HD 4400 graphics and doesn't have 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and I don't personally think the design or build quality is anything like the same. However, it's got a 1080p screen and some other things the MacBook doesn't.

Alejandro Gonzalez

June 26, 2013, 1:56 pm

i think that the pros you are describing are not enougth, the vaio have less weigth, better resolution, better performance options despite the graphic card(u wont game in this laptop and for office stuff no more power is required) in a bolity laptop o ultrabook the key points are size and weigth nothin else matters most

imaginarynumber

July 1, 2013, 5:52 am

Yes the Pro has got the slower HD4400 but it does allocate more RAM to graphics than the Air, resulting in a comparable performance.

802.11ac, a nice touch but how many people have a suitable router?

Design/build quality? By and large a matter of opinion.
Other things the MacBook doesn't have- Touchscreen, HDMI, NFC, smaller footprint, 30% lighter, longer battery life when using the sheet battery, WIFI router built into the charger (to allow Ethernet use), cheaper (but still expensive), faster charge and boot times.

So the Mac is better in 2 marginal respects but inferior in the rest?

And if you want 15 hours battery life look at the Vaio Duo 13

andyvan

July 1, 2013, 8:32 am

Our review will be live very soon.

Rory Quinn

July 9, 2013, 8:30 am

Should a RAM upgrade be considered?

Elijah Kurk

July 16, 2013, 9:10 pm

The pro is not cheaper, it is $150 more expensive... The sheet battery doesn't weigh a lot, but it is very bulky. There is a point of diminishing return when concerning weight, the carbon fiber ultrabooks are lighter, but they flex more, and 3 pounds is already very light. I'd rather have thunderbolt over hdmi, that way I can use my 1440p screen at full resolution, since ultrabooks sure as hell don't have dual link dvi. Hdmi 1.3 and up support higher res, but not many monitors have that support.

Andrew Pennebaker

July 23, 2013, 4:53 pm

Was this review for the completely standard, i5 model? Were any upgrades included in the model reviewed?

imaginarynumber

July 26, 2013, 4:23 pm

In the uk the pro is much cheaper than the air, at all price points. The difference gets greater as you increase the spec, in part because apple charge so much more for the same components, eg sony charge £40 for 4gb extra ram, apple charge £80 for the same ram...

imaginarynumber

July 26, 2013, 4:25 pm

To date i have only connected my laptop screen to a larger monitor when working with Flash or very large excel files.

Natito

July 28, 2013, 1:52 pm

It doesn't have a touch screen. How can a laptop with no touch screen be 9/10 unless a touch screen is of no value? I don't particularly care about touch screens myself but a lot of people do. You are obviously and Apple fan and just can't see beyond that.

Matt Burns

August 31, 2013, 12:12 pm

Ultimately even though the PC show better specs, they just dont work like Macs. SSD logic technology delivers higher speeds in caparison, and even with the reduction in clock speed, the benchmark test came out 3% difference for double the amount of battery. Ultimately though...OS-X will not clog up, slow down and die like my Sony Vaio I7 work laptop has.... a few times now (its like a cart and horse to a rockaet as my PC loving friend told me when he used my Mac)! Oh and when i do to sell in a couple of years, i will get a lot more for the Mac than the PC. These are just facts.

Nikhil

September 22, 2013, 12:06 pm

OS X is not made for touch screen unlike Windows 8. So what is the point of the Mac having a touch screen? Just because it doesn't have a touch screen it doesn't mean the rating needs to be lower.

Nikhil

September 22, 2013, 12:16 pm

Have you looked at the user reviews of the Pro 13? A lot of users have complained of wi-fi issues. Many have said connection is very unstable and keeps getting disconnected while using the internet. Sony to date still haven't solved the problem.

Performance tests between the air and pro 13 are virtually identical, and that is because of the better/quicker SSD on the Air. The only + side to the pro 13 is the 1080p display and that is it. But it is a no brainer to see why apple stuck with the 1440x900 display. They wanted to build a laptop with a long battery life.

Nikhil

September 22, 2013, 12:23 pm

Yes and if you want to get the battery sheet, it costs.

Battery life without the sheet is around 6-7 hours which is nearly half of what the Mac Air provides.

The base model of the pro 13 is £859 but that is without the touch screen. Touch screen is an additional £80.

Alterity

November 1, 2013, 3:38 am

very nice machine; I just got one. In reality, the battery life, SSD hard disk and portability are really really nice things to have.

Henk

December 2, 2013, 9:22 pm

I'm also inclined to think the Macbook Air doesn't have Thunderbolt 2.

Apple doesn't say anything about Thunderbolt 2 in the Macbook Air on Apple.com, and its not the kind of company to shy away from boasting about tech advancements (even if they're not all that advanced). On the Macbook Pro site Thunderbolt 2 is portrayed gloriously among the MBP's features. "the most advanced I/O gets 2x faster", in proper Apple-style.

Would be great if you rectified this (if of course we turn out to be right), otherwise people might be disappointed after buying the machine, and that would be a shame.

Otherwise, good review. Thanks.

Ruck_n_Maul

February 18, 2014, 1:27 pm

Im a MacBook Air owner - and have consulted widely with others - I would not recommend - it has shocking wifi - always network time out issues - disconnects for no reason and will reconnect - even with reboot - no solutions to this problem - happens everywhere - all wifi locations

nathan

November 7, 2015, 9:27 pm

bad wifi signal?! you mad i connect with signals that others can't and an all round beautiful system!

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