Apple products hold their value very well in the secondhand market. This was something I was always aware of, but never more-so than when I myself was trying to find a slightly used, newer laptop for my own personal use. I was on an extremely tight budget with little wiggle room; due to the exchange rate between USD and CAD, I was trying to stay around $350 (US). While I obviously wanted a device that was still relatively new (so it’d be supported for a few more years), my main concerns were a low cycle count on the battery and a device that wouldn’t be bottlenecked due to a lack of RAM.
Ultimately, I went with the 2015 MacBook Air. It came in two size variants, but the 11.6” model was the one that I kept feeling inclined towards purchasing (perhaps it’s because it was a less common size.) While it may not have the nicer Retina displays of its since-discontinued 12” counterpart or the MacBook Pro models, since I was coming from an older MacBook Pro model that also lacked a retina display, it wasn’t really an issue for me. Additionally, once of the first things I did was install a third party app by the name of Flux, which helps my screen adjust similar to True Tone on the current models.
However, where this model still truly shines is in its ultra-portability. I’ll pick it up to bring downstairs or to another room with me, and it feels like I’m not even holding anything. Additionally, with it sporting of 8GB of RAM on a display slightly above 720p, it’s still lightening fast for my needs. Indeed, it’s only when I push my device to its limits when I even experience the “beach ball of death,” as I jokingly refer to it as. By that, I mean five or six tabs open in Safari, Spotify playing music, Pages and TextEdit actively open on documents, and other programs running in the background. However, those occurrences are rare and the first couple of times it happened was done specifically to test my computer’s capabilities.
Using Photoshop? No issue. Streaming a video on Netflix? No problem. Heck, I even opened a 4K video file and streamed it fine through VLC with no issues whatsoever. (Why was I using a 4K video on a 720p display, you ask? To take a few screen captures of what I needed from said video file.) While I haven’t done much video editing on my laptop just yet, both iMove and Final Cut Pro have worked fine exporting 1080p video without any buffering issues.
I touched on it earlier, but the biggest drawback to the pre-retina Air models is the display. In 2015, it seemed a bit outdated, but it’s even more-so in 2020 when Apple and other computer manufacturers are slimming their bezels down and putting out 1080p, 2K or even 4K laptop displays. Again, this was something I knew about when I purchased mine; to me, the low price point of my model with the benefit of the additional RAM more than made up for it to me.
In fact, the only downside I’ve had with my model is that it only came with 128GB of storage. It hasn’t been a complete hindrance to me as I use a 200GB iCloud account for syncing all of my files back and forth between devices, as well as using Google Drive and OneDrive’s free tiers for some additional space. However, after the programs I have installed and the files locally stored that I need access to, I’ve gone through close to half of my space. Just having the an extra 128GB (for a total of 256GB) would help my peace of mind; that said, the SSD in this model can be replaced, so it’s something I’m looking into doing in the future. After all, it worked for my husband’s MacBook Pro.