Walmart resurrects the M1 MacBook Air as an entry-level $699 laptop


Enlarge / The M1 MacBook Air returns as a Walmart budget laptop.

Walmart

Apple no longer sells the M1 MacBook Air as of earlier this month, discontinuing it and offering the M2 version of the Air as its entry-level model instead. But it looks like the M1 Air may live on, at least for a while—US retailer Walmart made a point of announcing today that it would carry and sell the M1 Air in its online store and at “select” retail locations for a much-lowered price of $699.

This is lower than the $999 that Apple was asking for the laptop just a few weeks ago, and it’s lower than the $759 that the M1 Air goes for in Apple’s refurbished store. These prices are all for the base configuration of the M1 Air, with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. Walmart offers all three color finishes for the M1 Air—silver, gold, and space gray—but doesn’t directly sell any versions with more RAM or storage.

This isn’t the Air config we’d recommend to most enthusiasts—for them, an M3 Air or a refurbished M2 model with more RAM and storage come with enough benefits to be worth the extra cost. But it is a surprisingly low price for what remains a solid entry-level laptop, especially given that Walmart doesn’t offer any other Macs in its stores (other Macs on Walmart’s website are available from third-party sellers).

The strongest argument against buying an M1 Air in 2024 is software support. Historically, Apple has provided new macOS versions and security updates based on the date that new Macs were introduced, which for the M1 Air is November of 2020. Apple could change its approach to software updates in the Apple Silicon era, but it has been fairly consistent on this point throughout the PowerPC and Intel eras.

This means that an M1 MacBook Air purchased today could end up receiving two or three fewer years of software update support than an M3 Air purchased on the same day.

Still, this is unlikely to be a problem in the near future. Apple is still supporting the last couple of model years of Intel Macs, so we’re almost certainly at least a few years out from any Apple Silicon models losing support. But it is something to keep in mind as you consider long-term use, handing the laptop down to other family members or friends, or future resale and trade-in value.



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