The major notable new feature in the MacBook Air is the scissor switch keyboard, an upgrade over the much-maligned butterfly keyboard that was prone to failure and spurred Apple to implement a wide-ranging repair program.
The scissor switch keyboard was first introduced in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but Apple is planning to expand it across the MacBook lineup, starting with the MacBook Air. The updated keyboard adds a mere half a millimeter of additional thickness to the body of the machine, with the MacBook Air now measuring in at 0.63 inches at its thickest point, up from 0.61 inches in the prior version.
The new Magic Keyboard is about 0.5mm thicker than the Butterfly keyboard of the prior-generation model, which accounts for the minor increase in thickness. The new MacBook Air is also just a bit heavier at 2.80 pounds instead of 2.75 pounds.
Along with the new keyboard, iFixit found a larger heatsink over the processor, and a new cable configuration between the logic board and the trackpad that makes it easier to do trackpad and battery repairs.
That new trackpad cable configuration pays dividends! Where last year the trackpad cables were trapped under the logic board, they are now free to be disconnected anytime–meaning trackpad removal can happen as soon as the back cover comes off. And since the battery rests under these same cables, this new configuration also greatly speeds up battery removal by leaving the logic board in place. That’s two very tasty birds, one stone, for those of you counting. This is one of those happy (but all too rare) occasions where we can identify a hardware change from Apple that’s squarely aimed at improving serviceability in the existing design. Sometimes they do listen!
The battery model number and specs are unchanged compared to last year, and Apple uses both pull-tab adhesive and screws to hold the speakers in place in the new model. The SSD and the RAM continue to be soldered in place and cannot be upgraded.
All in all, the MacBook Air earned a repairability score of four out of 10 for the quicker access to trackpad and battery replacements, and the modular and easy to access fans, speakers, and ports. Though the keyboard is now more reliable, it’s still integrated into the top case, requiring a complete teardown for service purposes.
Apple’s new MacBook Air can be purchased from the online Apple Store and it is priced starting at $999.