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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Six Colors Staff

Apple tweaks laptop lineup with cheaper Air; MacBook disappears

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Time for a game of laptop musical chairs. Apple made some adjustments to its portable line-up this morning, with a cheaper price point for the MacBook Air and improvements to the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro. But the 12-inch MacBook? It’s gone, baby, gone.

In addition to its new $1,099 ($999 for college students) price tag—which cuts $100 off the old price, and $150 off for college students—the MacBook Air now features True Tone capability on its display and the new keyboard materials introduced in other MacBook Pro models back in May. Other than that, the model is basically unchanged from the one we declared the best Mac to buy for a student.

The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, which was originally the one MacBook Pro model without a Touch Bar, is no longer quite so much of an outlier. It’s also gained new quad-core processors to replace its old dual-core options, True Tone, the T2 chip, and Touch ID, meaning we can bid adieu to the “MacBook Escape” sobriquet given to it when it was the only MacBook Pro model to have a physical escape key. It does, however, retain its status as the only MacBook Pro model with only two Thunderbolt 3 ports. Its price point is unchanged at $1,299, but college students can get $100 off.

(This update was timed to coincide with Apple’s annual Back to School promotion, which offers a pair of Beats Studio 3 headphones with purchase of a qualifying Mac.)

But it’s not all about give—the 12-inch MacBook has been removed from Apple’s website (though refurbished versions are still available). That device was always a contentious one, with some loving its small footprint and weight, while others were frustrated by its underpowered nature and lack of more than one USB-C port. There’s always the possibility that Apple might design another ultralight laptop, of course, especially if a rumored transition to ARM processors is in the wings, but for now it seems clear that the MacBook Air is the consumer-focused Mac laptop in Apple’s line-up.

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