Apple debuts affordable 13" MacBook Pro model, axes 11" MacBook Air

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Though Apple's two new flagship MacBook Pro models with multitouch Touch Bar stole the show on Thursday, the company also launched a third, more affordable 13-inch model aimed at the MacBook Air faithful.

Introduced by Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller near the end of today's festivities, the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro shares an aesthetic with its more expensive siblings, as well as features like a thin unibody design, all-metal hinge and wider trackpad, but foregoes the new Touch Bar and a few ports.

By removing the cutting edge Touch Bar in favor of traditional function keys, and incorporating less costly internal components, Apple was able to achieve a more competitive price point closer in cost to the MacBook Air line of products.

Compared to the 13-inch MacBook Air, the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro is identical in heft, but boasts a smaller overall footprint and 13 percent less internal volume. More importantly, the Pro model comes with a Retina Display, a feature for which many Air users have been waiting. It seems Apple has no intention of updating the ultra-slim model to a high-resolution display, as the 13-inch MacBook Air is still non-Retina only.

Specs for the new low end Pro model start with a 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, Intel Iris Graphics 540 and 256GB of flash storage. The laptop also features two Thunderbolt 3 ports with USB-C capabilities, offering greater I/O flexibility than Air.

The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro ships today from $1,499.

In conjunction with the new 13-inch MacBook Pro debut, Apple quietly discontinued the 11-inch MacBook Air, previously the company's cheapest thin-and-light offering. The 13-inch MacBook Air received a minor upgrade as well, with RAM doubling from 4GB to 8GB.

Stay tuned to AppleInsider's Mac Price Guide over the next few weeks, where we'll be offering exclusive discounts on Apple's new MacBook Pros.