We had a hunch that new MacBook Airs were coming this week, and now it’s official. Without a big announcement, Apple has released improved versions of its MacBook Air notebooks, starting at $899 for the 11-inch version and $999 for the 13-inch. That’s a $100 price drop from the previous versions.
Each new configuration of the Air enjoys a 100MHz speed bump from its predecessor, as they all pack a 1.4-GHz Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 2.7 GHz. All models tout Intel HD Graphics 5000 and 4GB of RAM.
According to Apple’s website, the 11-inch MacBook Air now starts at $899 with 128 GB of flash storage and sells for $1,099 with 256 GB. The 128 GB 13-inch model costs $999, while the 256 GB version will run you $1,199. All configurations come with free shipping from the online Apple Store and are expected to ship within 24 hours.
The new MacBook Airs also promise longer battery life. The 13-inch model is rated for up 12 hours of movie playback (up from 10 hours) and the 11-inch should get 9 hours (up from 8 hours).
This refresh marks the most powerful and affordable MacBook Air models yet, though its not the major reinvention that some recent rumors were suggesting. Apple’s entry-level laptop was expected to receive a Retina display like its Pro counterpart, with rumored features like a solar-charging back panel and Thunderbolt 2 support. This purported model may surface later in the year.
Another rumor has Apple releasing a new 12-inch MacBook, one that could sport a buttonless, pressure sensitive touchpad and fanless design.
Although we’ve supposedly entered the post-PC era, the Mac is still going fairly strong. Apple sold 4.1 million Macs in Q2 2014 (up from 3.9 million during that period last year), and the Mac has gained share in the PC industry for 31 of the past 32 yearly quarters. According to IDC, Mac sales rose 5 percent last quarter while PC sales declined by 4 percent.