Apple announces M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro

After Apple’s big iPhone hardware event, the Cupertino giant has taken to stage yet again for another major hardware reshuffle. The ‘One More Thing” event ended with the company introducing two refreshed MacBooks. As the company itself hinted at WWDC earlier, Apple unveiled its own custom ARM Silicon chip called Apple M1 chip for the Mac. This represents a big shift in Apple’s computers and it means machines will support native iOS apps due to Apple’s A-series mobile and tablet chips sharing 64-bit ARM architecture.

The new Apple M1-powered 13-inch MacBook Air is the most affordable refresh of the new products introduced today. The spotlight has mostly been on the new CPU migration and most other hardware remains the same with minor upgrades across the board. The MacBook Air 13 hosts a 13.3-inch IPS Retina Display with a native 2560 x 1600p resolution, which is the same as its predecessor.  

M1 Apple Silicon chip

The Apple M1 Silicon chip looks like a tweaked version of its mobile counterpart. It is a 5nm chipset with a octa-core setup that boasts 4 high performance cores and 4 high efficiency cores. The M1 Apple Silicon chip also has an integrated 8-core GPU. Apple claims that this SoC is the fastest PC chip and it does all this with 1/4th power consumption of competing chipsets. The M1 chip also has a 16-core Neural AI engine capable of 11 trillion operations per second, as well as Apple’s Secure Enclave. 

Apple MacBook Air

For the new MacBook Air, Apple promises 3 times faster and 5x GPU prowess than its predecessor. The built-in RAM is a base LPDDR4X 8GB and is configurable to 16GB while the storage base is 256GB/512GB PCIe-based SSD and can be expanded up to 2TB. 

As with previous models, the MacBook Air sports a Touch ID and a 720p FaceTime camera as well as Two Thunderbolt (USB 4) ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0. Apple also boasts about a battery life of  up to 18 hours on the new MacBook Air. 

As for audio, the MacBook Air retains stereo speakers with support for Dolby Atmos and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The backlit keyboard with a pressure-sensitive gesture-supporting trackpad also remains the same. 

In terms of operating systems, the MacBook Air will boot MacOS Big Sur on first start. It has been optimized to work in tandem with the new M1 chip and is now faster and smoother in terms of UI. It also has almost instantaneous wake-up unlike the previous versions. Apple also briefly talked about Universal Apps at the launch today which essentially means that users will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps on their Mac.   

Apple MacBook Pro

Apple also introduced the 13-inch MacBook Pro with its active fan cooling system and touch bar. And the biggest leap is in terms of the M1 chip’s performance and endurance. Apple says it is 2.8 times as fast, with graphics that are up to five times faster than the previous generation. Battery life is also touted to be quite an impressive jump with up to 17 hours of web browsing, and 20 hours of video playback which Apple says is  10 hours longer than before. That is a lot and it will please new MacBook Pro buyers.

Apple Mac Mini

The compact Mac Mini almost went unnoticed due to the big MacBook announcements at the event. But it is a significant upgrade as it was visited two years back. Hence, from the old 8th-gen Intel Core processors, the new M1 chip now also inhabits the Mac Mini. Apple says that it is 5x as faster than the “top-selling PC”. It has active cooling, and more importantly a wider selection of ports. There are two USB-C ports for USB 4 and Thunderbolt (up to 40 Gbps) as well as two USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports (up to 10 Gbps). In addition, there’s an HDMI 2.0 port for 4K/60Hz output and DisplayPort (over USB-C) for a single 6K/60Hz monitor. The base model has 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD.

Prices and Availability

What’s even better is that prices of both the new laptops  haven’t changed, despite the M1 chip and improvements, starting at the same $999 and Rs 92,900 in India for the MacBook Air. The new MacBook Pro comes in a 13-inch size and starts at $1,299 and Rs 1,22,990 in India. Apple also introduced an upgraded Mac Mini with the M1 chip that has a starting price of $699 or Rs 64,900 in India. The three products will be available starting November 17 on the Apple Store in India.



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