Thoughts on Apple’s 2018 Mac hardware, iPad Pro keynote

On Tuesday, Apple held their 2018 Mac hardware keynote. The keynote saw Apple announce some long-awaited, and long overdue, updates on their MacBook Air and Mac Mini, as well as a new version of the iPad Pro. Here’s my thoughts on each piece of news.

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air’s finally received some needed updates. Among the new Air features:

  • Touch ID (but no Touch Bar).
  • A 13″ Retina display.
  • The recent MacBook models’ keyboard.
  • An eighth generation Intel Core i5 processor, plus up to 1.5TB storage/16GB RAM.

The new Air also comes in three colors: space gray, silver, and gold. It’s available on November 7. The Air also comes with two USB-C ports (but no SD card slot).

Unfortunately, pricing for the new Air is more expensive than the old model. The entry-level Air’s pricing now starts at $1199 (up from $999) for a model with 8GB RAM, a Core i5 processor, and 128GB of storage. The Verge notes the new Air is at or near the same price as the 12″ MacBook and the Touch Bar-less Macbook Pro. I’m wondering how those will be affected saleswise.

Mac Mini

Mac Mini (late 2012 version)
The late 2012 model Mac Mini.

The Mini’s been in desperate need of an update for years; it hasn’t been updated since late 2014. Fortunately, updates have finally arrived. Among the new 2018 Mac Mini hardware features:

  • Support for up to 64GB of RAM. I’m assuming the RAM is unfortunately still soldered in, like the previous model. (Update: Good news—the RAM can be upgraded by users again.)
  • Up to 2TB of flash storage available, dropping the spinning hard drives of the previous Minis.
  • Modernized ports, including: 4 USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports; HDMI; Ethernet; and two USB-A ports.

The new Mini comes in a space gray finish. It’ll go on sale November 7.

Like the new Air, the new Mini is receiving its own price hike. The entry-level Mini comes with a quad-core Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, all for $799 (up from $499).

I’m glad to see the Mini updated, but $800 for a Mini is a pretty steep price hike, especially without a monitor. Factoring in $100-$200 for a monitor, plus AppleCare ($99) and sales tax, and the total cost for the entry-level Mini’s past the $1,000 mark.

iPad Pro

iPad Pro with keyboard
Photo by Cole Camplese (Flickr / CC BY)

The new iPad Pro also offers new features:

  • The Home button’s gone (replaced by Face ID/the iPhone’s screen gestures), in favor of a near-bezel-less screen.
  • An upgraded processor.
  • The Lightning port’s been replaced by a USB-C one, which expands peripheral possibilities.

Again, like the other 2018 Mac hardware, the new iPad Pro’s a lot more expensive. The entry-level 10.9-inch model (with 64GB of storage) starts at $799, while the 12.9-inch model (also with 64GB of storage) starts at $999. If you plan on using the Apple Pencil, you’ll need to buy a new one, as the old one’s incompatible with the new Pro. And finally, Apple’s dropped the headphone jack; it’s either use Bluetooth headphones, or spring an extra $9 for a headphone dongle (as Apple couldn’t be bothered to include one).

That said, at least AppleCare’s reasonably priced, at $49. If buying the Pro, it’s a recommended purchase—without AppleCare, an out-of-warranty repair costs a whopping $499 (for the 10.9-inch model) or $649 (for the 12.9-inch model).

Conclusion

While I need a newer computer, budget concerns preclude me from being in the market for any of the new 2018 Mac hardware. Although I’m glad to see the Mini finally updated, the price of it (plus the Air) makes returning to MacOS an even pricier affair than before. Professional artists might enjoy the new iPad Pro, however.

Are you interested in any of the new Mac hardware announced at the keynote?

(Updated 11/10/18)

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