Honestly, for me, this is by far the most important part of the review. With there being not much in the way of performance upgrades or new features compared to previous generation Airs, the battery life improvement is basically at the heart of what makes the new Air attractive. Obviously, this isn’t exclusive to just Apple—any Haswell ULT Ultrabook with 40-50Wh of battery capacity should get you 8-10 hours of battery life.

Tablet Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

But it’s honestly amazing to use a fully fledged notebook that can battle Atom and ARM for battery life. The image from Anand’s 13” Air review showing an estimated 16 hours of battery life was awesome, even if the OS X battery runtime estimate tends to be wildly optimistic in the early part of a battery cycle. The 11” isn’t quite that far, but it still has better battery life than my iPad. Granted, my 3rd-generation iPad now has a year of wear on the battery, but still—it’s longer lasting than my iPad was when new, and it’s also longer lasting than the 4th gen iPad. And not just by a little, it’s a pretty significant step up. That’s a really important corner to turn for the notebook market, double digit battery life without having to resort to an extended or secondary battery like some business notebooks have offered in the past.

As Anand covered in his recent Haswell ULT battery life article, Intel still needs to work on the power efficiency of the Haswell video decode engine, since ARM-based SoCs still hold a sizable advantage there. But other than that caveat, the overall power consumption of Haswell is an absolute game changer. I’ve never even thought to take the power cord with me anywhere in the month that I’ve had it. Want to take the Air for a weekend away and not plug it in once, iPad style? Depending on how much of your usage can get pushed to a smartphone, that’s a legitimate and realistic possibility.

The 11” Air, by virtue of its smaller display, is slightly more efficient than its larger sibling, but the 42% advantage in battery capacity pushes the 13” Air’s battery life into the insane range. Being able to rely on nearly 10 hours of battery life or more in most normal use cases is just ridiculous. The 11” is a bit less phenomenal, but anything that can claim better battery life than the iPad, even with a smaller battery, is doing just fine.

Light Workload Battery Life

Medium Workload Battery Life

Heavy Workload Battery Life

At 8.5 hours dead on in our usual Mac light browsing test, the 2013 11” is three hours ahead of the 2012. That’s 54.5%. It’s nuts, the end. That advantage holds basically through the rest of our more strenuous battery life tests. The previous 11” really had an issue with battery life—the real-world 5 hours of runtime just didn’t cut it given the sacrifices made for mobility; it made much more sense to get a 13”. Now, with 8+ hours of runtime, it’s easier to ignore. The jump from 5.5 to 7.5 hours of battery life makes a pretty significant difference in how the system gets used, but I’m less sure about the difference between 8.5 and 11. Once you’re already in that 8-10 hour battery life range, adding two or three hours on top of that is a lot less valuable than it would be in a situation where you’re adding that amount to get to that range. This isn’t to say that more battery life isn’t always better, just that at some point it becomes something that is nice to have rather than something that changes the essence of the system, almost like the difference between an i5 and an i7 CPU.

2013 MacBook Air 11" - Introduction and Hardware CPU Performance
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  • ccd2 - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    It could be that Apple makes for good one stop shopping. Many like myself have issues with the cost of Apple machines, but hardly anyone questions their quality. Many feel that, in part, Microsoft and Google entry into hardware is due to the failure of non apple OEM to offer well executed products
  • KPOM - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    If you travel a lot the 11" Air is a good choice. Try using a 15" or even some 13" notebook in the middle seat on an airplane tray table and you'll see why. The 11" and 13" MacBook Air models have identical internals now.
  • beggerking@yahoo.com - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    absolutely no need to be torn between an ipad vs air... just get a Surface PRO!! even the current version beats air with its touchscreen and pen input..

    the next version with Haswell processor will absolutely replace both ipad and air.
  • name99 - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    For christ's sake. You are committing an even dumber error than Vivek with his repeated reference to "real computer.
    The salient difference between an iPad and an MBA is not the realness of the computer, it is that they have different input systems, and these different input systems have different strengths.

    It would be a simplification, but a justifiable one, to say that the MBA, with its keyboard and trackpad, has a much higher bandwidth input system. That's not quite true --- for certain purposes (making music for example) multi-touch provides a high bandwidth input system. But for MOST purposes, the keyboard provides rapid input of one sort, the trackpad rapid input of another sort. Typing on glass does not match the keyboard speed, and even the with keyboard of a Surface Pro you're missing the fine accuracy and immediacy of a trackpad.

    The point is not that one is "better" than the other. That's precisely the sort of stupidity that leads you to create devices like Surface Pro which try to do too many things and do them all badly.
    The point is that different is DIFFERENT. Navigating Apple Maps is vastly superior on my iPad to navigating Google Earth on a laptop or my iMac, and while I imagine Apple will do a good job with their UI for Maps on OSX 10.9, my guess is it will not be as good as on the iPad. The task of manipulating the 3D view of a city works really well with the immediacy afforded by a multitouch screen. Music is a similar sort of activity where that sort of immediacy can work well, likewise for some types of art creation.
    We're on our first tentative steps to voice UIs, but there are already a few situations where commanding Siri is indeed faster than the alternative ways of getting things done.

    MBAs and iPads will coexist for a long time because they do different things, and the way they do those different things is so intrinsic to the way they are shaped that each cannot usefully be morphed into the other. When Vivek says he wants a "real" computer he means that, for certain tasks, he wants the high input bandwidth that an MBA gives him. He's not going to be satisfied by replacing that with a keyboard that's not as good, no trackpad, and apps that are not optimized for this sort of high bandwidth input. And why should he have to? It's easy enough and cheap enough (and getting cheaper every year) to have both.
  • beggerking@yahoo.com - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    a single Surface Pro replaces both. better and cost less.
  • KPOM - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Not really. It's too big and bulky to be used as a tablet, and its screen is even smaller than a MacBook Air. Plus it has only a single USB port. A MacBook Air has two USB ports and a Thunderbolt port.

    Tablets seem to be settling into the 7-8" range. Where that leaves the 11.6" MacBook Air is a bit uncertain, since a 13" MacBook Air or Ultrabook provides more viewing area. Perhaps the next version will fit in a 12.5" screen. Even as is, however, an 11.6" MacBook Air does provide a better desktop computer experience.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    surface pro has 2 usb ports. please go and LOOK at one before denouncing it.
  • KPOM - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Not according to this:


    Ports Full-size USB 3.0
    microSDXC card slot
    Headset jack
    Mini DisplayPort
    Cover port
  • Site7000 - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Then why doesn't anybody buy them?
  • willstay - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    I would like to know battery performance with Parallels or VMFusion running Microsoft Outlook connected to Exchange Server in Windows 8 Vs running Windows 8 as base OS.

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