But the cheaper starting price and excellent spec upgrades on the also-recently updated MacBook Air will be appealing to many, especially as there are a great many similarities between the two models.
So what’s the best option for you? We check out how the MacBook Air stacks up against the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2020). If you’re considering other models as well, check out our bigger MacBook guide.
MacBook Pro 13-inch vs MacBook Air: Design and build
- All models have Touch ID
- All 13-inch MacBook Pro models have the Touch Bar
- New style keyboard – dubbed the Magic Keyboard across all models
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available in silver and space grey while the Air is also available in Gold as well. It’s a bit more of a rose gold than it used to be.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro measures 304.1 x 212.4 x 15.6mm and weighs 1.4kg. That means it’s slightly thicker and heavier than the older mid-2019 model which was 14.9mm thick/1.37kg.
The 13-inch MacBook Air measures 304.1 x 212.4 x 16.1mm (4.1mm at the thinnest edge) and weighs 1.29kg. You’ll note that both these laptops have the same width and depth dimensions. They’re also actually pretty close in terms of weight these days.
The keyboard has been completely redesigned on both models as of early 2020 after mass criticism of Apple’s previous Butterfly design. That older keyboard design remains the subject of an ongoing recall program across all portable Macs.
The so-called Magic Keyboard is designed to be much more durable and with better travel for more comfortable typing. The physical Escape key has also returned. All Macs now have Touch ID for fingerprint login and Apple Pay authentication.
You’ll get two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on the two lower-end 13-inch models, and four on the top-end pair of models. Yep, there are four standard models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air has two USB-C Thunderbolt ports across all models. Both laptops can drive dual 4K monitors and have 3.5mm headphone jacks.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro now has the Touch Bar across the range; it used to be on selected models only. However, it is a key difference between the Air and Pro nowadays. It’s a concession to users that want a more tactile touch experience. But with the iPad Pro being touted more and more as a laptop-replacement it seems that full touchscreens will remain in the sphere of iPad rather than Mac.
MacBook Pro 13-inch vs MacBook Air: Display
- All MacBooks now offer a True Tone display
- 13-inch size and resolutions remain the same
Essentially, the same display is used in both models here – there’s a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels (227ppi), the same as older 13-inch MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs.
All MacBook Pro displays boast True Tone while the Pro also supports the wide P3 colour gamut. True Tone is a tech that was first introduced on the iPad Pro, adjusting the screen to match the colour temperature of the lighting in the room.
Above the display there’s no improvement to the FaceTime camera on either model: it’s still only 720p HD capable rather than Full HD.
MacBook Pro 13-inch vs MacBook Air: Processor, graphics and storage
- 8th and 10th generation Intel Core processors for 13-inch MacBook Pro
- 10th generation Intel Core processors for the MacBook Air
The 13-inch MacBook Pro boasts quad-core Core i5 processors as standard across the range. These are 8th generation on the bottom two models and 10th generation chips on the top two versions. By default these are clocked at 1.4 or 2.0Ghz respectively. You can also configure up to 10th generation Core i7 at 2.3GHz with maximum Turbo Boost speeds lof 4.1Ghz.
Unfortunately, there’s no discrete graphics option on the 13-inch MacBook Pro – unlike the 16-inch Pro – but Intel’s Iris Plus graphics chips are much more impressive than the limited integrated graphics of old.
The MacBook Air now has 10th generation Intel Core processors across the board so that means Intel Iris Plus Graphics as well. The entry-level model is a Core i3 (1.1GHz dual-core) but generally, you’re looking at Core i5. You can max things out at a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro can have up to 32GB of memory but 8GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory is standard and 16GB of 3733MHz LPDDR4X on the higher-end models. The storage tops out at 4TB but starts with a minimum of 256GB. Adding more internal storage at the time of purchase ups the cost significantly.
The 2020 Air also has a minimum 256GB of storage as standard with a maximum of 2TB. And there’s also a minimum of 8GB of memory, although it’s faster than that in the basic Pro at 3733MHz LPDDR4X – indeed, it’s the same memory as in the higher-spec pro models.
The MacBook Pro lineup all has Apple’s own T2 chip. This is a chip dedicated to security that handles Touch ID and some other capabilities. It isn’t inside the MacBook Air.
Both these Macs run Apple’s latest version of its Mac operating system – macOS 10.15 Catalina.
MacBook Pro 13-inch vs MacBook Air: Price
The 13-inch MacBook $1,299/£1,299 while the MacBook Air is $999/£999. As usual, you can fine-tune the processor, memory and storage, though as always the larger SSD storage options get rather expensive.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro will be a default pick for many users but the question now should be…why? There are some extra features such as support for the P3 colour space, Touch Bar and, on the more expensive MacBook Pro 13-inch models, four Thunderbolt ports.
But you really will have to be a Pro aficionado – or need the extra power and storage you can upgrade the Pro to – to plump for it over the MacBook Air.
Now that the Air has been powered up with the latest hardware, it’s the one to go for unless you have a specific reason not to.