Apple’s smallest new MacBook Pro is the MacBook Air we always wanted

Alongside the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, Apple just introduced a third new MacBook Pro model that's something of an unofficial successor to the MacBook Air. The company plans to continue selling its 13-inch Air, Phil Schiller said, but this specific MacBook Pro will likely be a preferable option for those who can afford it. It's 13 percent smaller in volume than the existing Air and weighs the same 3 pounds. It retains traditional, physical function keys — yes, like escape — so there's no Touch Bar on this version.

But the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro does get some of the same upgraded hardware found in its pricier counterparts like Thunderbolt 3 (two ports), the latest Intel processors, and improved second-generation butterfly keyboard. Unfortunately, like the other models, it also loses the SD card slot.

The display is a Retina display, which alone may be enough to convince many consumers to step up from the Air. Rumors before today's event had suggested Apple might update the Air with USB-C ports and faster internals, but instead, Phil Schiller spent several minutes explaining why this cheaper 13-inch Pro, which starts at $1,499, is such a superior machine. It begins shipping immediately today, whereas the Touch Bar MacBook Pros won't launch for 2 to 3 weeks. At this stage, the MacBook Air remains in Apple's lineup mostly for its alluring, low price point.

Developing. Check out our Apple MacBook event live blog for the latest updates and our Apple hub page for all the news!

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