New Apple Macs, iPads Give Hardware Long-Awaited Boost

Apple is finally rolling out a new MacBook Air and a major enhancement to the Mac Mini, along with two re-engineered iPad Pros.

Jeffrey Schwartz

October 30, 2018

5 Min Read
MacBook Air

(Pictured above: The latest iteration of the MacBook Air, unveiled Oct. 30.)

Apple is refreshing its Macintosh portfolio with a newly designed MacBook Air and the first upgrade of its Mac Mini in four years, along with two newly engineered iPad Pros that will all be available next week.

At a launch event  in Brooklyn, New York, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the new hardware, which offers higher resolution, IO and speed. The new models were all redesigned with recycled aluminum and offer thinner and more modern form factors.

While Apple recently released an upgraded version of its high-end MacBook Pro, customers have awaited a refresh of its mainstream Macs tied to the recent macOS Mojave release, which features the new Stacks desktop organizer, Dark Mode and the new Mac Store, which also brings some of the first iOS apps to macOS.

The launch comes as the presence of Macs in the enterprise are on the rise. Insight. the large systems reseller and service provider, is among a growing number of MSPs and solutions integrators that are helping enterprises deploy and manage an increased number of Macs in the workplace.

Evan Tomlin, director of solution architecture at Insight, expects Mac demand to continue, albeit with incremental growth.

“You’re not going to see Macs take 20 percent share next year, but I think realistically 5 or 10 percent share of the enterprise PC market is achievable,” Tomlin said in an interview earlier this month.

Yet as a partner, the growth of Macs is a good opportunity to deliver heterogeneous endpoint-device management and security with tools from Jamf — and attach options including Apple Care, Tomlin noted.

MacBook Air

Ever since Apple founder Steve Jobs introduced the first thin and light MacBook Air, it has influenced the entire Mac product line, according to Cook.

“It’s time for a new MacBook Air [with] one that takes the MacBook Air experience even further in the areas that are most important to our customers,” Cook said. Most significant, he said, is the new MacBook Air, which finally comes with Apple’s Retina display.

“The No. 1 feature customers have wanted in the MacBook Air has been a Retina display,” Cook said.

Besides the higher resolution and image rendering offered by Retina, Apple has narrowed the familiar aluminum bezels, providing more screen real-estate on the same 13.3-inch display. It’s not quite bezel-less, such as the Dell XPS line, thereby allowing for the camera on top of the display, a point Apple made note of. The Retina display offers a 4x boost in resolution over its predecessor with 4 million pixels and 48 percent more color.

The new MacBook Air borrows from its iOS sibling in another big way, with support for the Touch ID fingerprint-based authentication, which provides access to Apple Pay and password-less access to supported applications. The Touch ID sensor is placed on the MacBook Air’s keyboard and includes Apple’s T2 Security Chip, which protects the biometric data and ensures a secure boot process with automatic data encryption for the entire contents on the SSD.  

Powered by Intel’s 8th generation Core i5 processor and UHD Graphics, the new MacBook Air supports up to 16 GB of RAM at 2133 MHz and is available with up to 1.5 TB of SSD storage capacity. Apple claims the hardware will load files and applications 60 percent faster.

Apple has also added two Thunderbolt ports, allowing high-speed USB data transfer and the ability to charge the notebook. The new design is 17 percent smaller with the same size keyboard and display with a 10 percent thinner body that’s .61-inches at its narrowest point. It weights 2.75 points, which is a quarter-pound lighter than its predecessor. Apple claims battery life is 12 hours when used on Web and 13 hours when playing back video on iTunes. The starting price will be $1,199.

Mac Mini with Large Features

The new Mac mini desktop unit is the first from Apple in four years and comes with a significant boost in performance. The company’s new systems will have the option of either quad- or six-core processors. The company claims it will have five times more capacity and customers can configure up to 64GB of RAM and up to 2 TB of all-flash storage.


The new Mac Mini will also come with Apple’s T2 security chip and a variety of ports including four Thunderbolt 3, two USB-A, HDMI, audio and Ethernet up to 10GB. While the MacBook Mini will fit on any desktop, Apple is also targeting it for digital signage or even Xcode server farms.

The Mac Mini starts at $799 for a unit with a quad-core Intel 8th Generation i3 processor with 8GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, but a fully configured system with an i7 processor, 64GB of RAM, 2TB SSD and the 10 Gb Ethernet connector runs $4,199.

Performance Boost for iPad Pros

Apple’s changes to the iPad Pro lineup include an increase in size of its signature 10.5-inch iPad to 11 inches, and an upgrade of its large, 12.9-inch edition. Like Apple’s newest iPhone designs, the new iPad Pros extend the Liquid Retina displays to the edges and uses Face ID for authentication. The company also offers a new USB-C connector, the first time the company has offered a standard interface to its portfolio of tablets.

The new iPads will come with up to 1 TB of storage and are built with the company’s latest A12X Bionic processor and Apple’s Neural Engine, supporting Photoshop CC on iPad, which Adobe will release next year. Apple said the new Neural Engine will bring new levels of machine learning that will provide faster Face ID detection and the ability to apply augmented reality to photography and video. Apple said it will also provide improved Core ML performance, which will let developers build apps that apply more intelligent workflows.

A second version of the Apple Pencil will come as an option, which will magnetically attach to the iPad Pros and wirelessly charge the pencil. The Apple Pencil also will have a wireless sensor, allowing remote control of applications on the device.

Apple’s new iOS 12.1 is now available, which brings the previously announced Facetime group conferencing capability up to 32 participants, dual SIM card support for its latest iPhone releases and camera depth control.


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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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