Apple and Microsoft have updated their light laptops, offering users a simple choice between the best in macOS or Windows 10, as intended by their developers. We compare these two to see which one you should place at the top of your shopping list.
MacBook Air 2018 vs Surface Laptop 2: Price and availability
Microsoft announced that Surface Laptop 2 is on 2nd of October and is available in many options that can be configured on the Microsoft website:
- Core i5, 8/128 GB – 979 GBP, 999 USD
- Core i5, 8/256 GB – 1 249 GBP, 1.299 USD
- Core i7, 8/256 GB – 1.529 £, 1.599 USD
- Core i7, 16/512 GB – 2,079 £, 2199 USD
- Core i7, 16 GB / 1 TB – 2 529 GBP, 2 599 USD
It is also available in many popular stores, including John Lewis, Argos and Amazon.
Apple has released its new MacBook Air line November 7, 2018, with a similarly wide configuration range.
The price starts from 1199 GBP / 1 999 USD and further away from this. Here is a list of options;
- Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD 1 190 GBP / 1 999 USD
- Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD 1.399 GBP / 1.399 USD
- Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD 1.599 GBP / 1.599 USD
- Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 1.5 TB SSD 2.399 GBP / 2.399 USD
- Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD 1,379 £ / 1 379 USD
- Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD 1 579 GBP / 1 579 USD
- Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD 1 779 USD / 1 779 USD
- Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, 1.5 GB SSD 2,579 GBP / 2,579 USD
You can buy MacBook Air directly from Apple, as well as from John Lewis, Currys / PC World, Argos and other sellers.
MacBook Air 2018 vs. Surface Laptop 2: Design and build quality
Microsoft has maintained the perfect design aesthetics from last year's original Surface Surface laptop. Attractive, slim metal casing is available in many pleasant colors – Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and new Matt Black – all of them have a keyboard casing adorned with matching Alcantara material.
It provides a comfortable and unique feeling while writing, and those who fear that the material will become dirty over time, should be encouraged by numerous reports of stain resistant features.
The 13.5in PixelSense display with a resolution of 2256 x 1504 is a touch panel. This allows users to maximize the use of Windows 10 and the touch interface.
Ports also remain consistent with their predecessor, although this is a bit disappointing because it means that Microsoft has again omitted USB-C. Instead there is 1 x USB 3.0, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x Mini DisplayPort and a Surface Connect port.
Since the introduction of MacBook Air in 2008, the design has remained almost the same. Now that the platform enters the second decade, Apple has rebuilt the entire structure, which significantly brought the current MacBook and MacBook Pro line closer.
It still has a unibody chassis, this time made entirely of recycled aluminum and available in three colors; Gold, silver and space Gray.
The body is also smaller and lighter than the old design, and finally contains a 2K Retina display. Smoothing the device has brought with it a few changes that may not cause excitement for the MacBook Air fans.
The new butterfly keyboard replaces this tried-and-tested classic, and although this is a third generation variant that includes rubber skirts under the keys to help ease some of the problems of earlier versions, the low-key trip shared the user's view.
Apple now includes a Force Touch trackpad, which is 20 percent larger than before, and additionally it is very welcome to add a dedicated Touch ID button that allows you to log in without a password.
The Surface 2 laptop also has a biometric security feature thanks to its Windows-compatible Hello webcam that allows face identification to unlock the device. The ports are at least on the air, with two Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
Both machines are elegantly stylized and stand out from most laptops available today.
MacBook Air 2018 vs. Surface Laptop 2: Features
As you might expect from laptops released in 2018, Intel 8th generation processors are the heart of every device, but of a different type. The Surface 2 laptop uses Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8650U, which are both quad-core and Apple chose Core i5-8210Y processor, which is dual-core.
Theoretically, this should mean that the Surface 2 laptop is faster and the MacBook Air provides better battery life.
One of the largest updates to the air is its display. The sub-HD panel faded out, which was good after the first release, but fell quickly behind the backpack. Instead, Apple presented its 2018 models with a 13.3-inch display and a resolution of 2.560 x 1600.
Microsoft is equally kind, with a 13.5in PixelSense screen with a resolution of 2256 x 1504, but has the added advantage of being a touchscreen and supports Microsoft Pen. The 3: 2 aspect ratio makes it higher than a traditional laptop (but better for browsing websites), and Air maintains a normal 16: 9 format.
Touch ID enters the Air range in the form of a dedicated keyboard button in the upper right corner. This allows users to log in by touching and holding the key briefly while reading a fingerprint. This feature can also be used to use Apple Pay when shopping online.
This information is secured by a new T2 security chip that keeps everything in encrypted form and away from hackers.
Microsoft has a Windows Hello system that uses a built-in camera to unlock the Surface Laptop 2 simply by looking at it. This information is secured by its own TPM 2.0 chip, which according to the company's statement ensures the security of the "corporate class".
Both solutions work well and are certainly an improvement in writing long and complex passwords to access the device.
The Surface 2 laptop has an excellent writing surface, with well-spaced keys that respond nicely to your fingers.
The Apple butterfly design is something about the acquired taste. The minimum journey (0.5 mm) requires getting used to it and we have heard users complain about finger fatigue due to its shallow nature. And vice versa, others said they love the new project. One thing is absolutely certain, you will want to try out the MacBook Air for a few minutes before deciding whether you are in the previous or the second camp.
We have just started a thorough analysis of the MacBook Air at the time of writing this text, so battery life is only speculative, but Apple usually does very well with longevity.
It informs that the MacBook Air (2018) should reach up to 12 hours of life from a single charge or 13 hours of continuous video playback in Airplane mode.
In a complete review of Microsoft Surface Laptop 2, Chris stated that the device lasted 12 hours and 41 minutes in a looped video test. It seems that both provide very similar performance.
Here is a summary of the specifications of both machines;
|MacBook Air 2018||Two laptops on the surface|
|Editor||Dual-core 1.6 GHz processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz||Dual-core 1.6 GHz processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.4 GHz|
|Aries||8 GB / 16 GB||8 GB / 16 GB|
|Storage||128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1.5 TB||128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB|
|Show||13.3-inch (diagonal) display with LED backlight and IPS technology; Native resolution 2560×1600 in 227ppi resolution||PixelSense display 13.5 inches, 2256 x 1504 (201 ppi), aspect ratio 3: 2, 3.4 million pixels|
|GPU||Intel UHD 617 graphics||Intel UHD 620 graphics|
|AXIS||macOS 10.14 Mojave||Windows 10 Home|
|ports||2x Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C, 3.5 mm headphone jack||1x USB 3.0, 1x Mini DisplayPort port, Surface Connect connector, 3.5 mm headphone jack|
|Biometrics||Touch ID||Windows Hello face recognition|
|Battery||50.3-watt lithium-polymer battery||Not specified|
|Cameras||HD 720p FaceTIme camera (front)||HD 720p camera (front)|
|dimensions||30.41 cm x 21.24 cm x 0.41-1.56 cm x||30.8 cm x 22.3 cm x 1.44 cm|
|Weight||1.25 kg / 2.75 kg||1.25 kg / 2.75 kg|
MacBook Air 2018 vs. Surface Laptop 2: Software
Because they are showcases for two major operating systems (no offense for Linux and ChromeOS systems), you get access to the latest features that macOS and Windows 10 has to offer.
Reasonably, Microsoft stopped pre-installing the Windows 10S platform and opted for a much more tempting Windows 10 Home.
macOS 10.14 Mojave is a standard in MacBook Air, full of various free applications and creative applications that make it a useful device out of the box.
Both operating systems have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice that is better will come down to your personal requirements. To see the differences between them, read our comparison guide for MacOS and Windows 10.
Should I buy a MacBook Air or Surface Laptop 2 laptop?
The selection of the device depends mainly on the preferred operating system. MacBook Air is a solid presentation of the Apple class, and Surface Laptop 2 is one of the best currently available Windows machines.
For our money, the latter offers more in terms of aesthetics, features and charm, but we doubt very much whether you regret buying.