It seems certain that Apple will refresh the MacBook and maybe the MacBook Air soon, possibly completely reforming the bottom rungs of its notebook range underneath the awesome (and now refreshed) MacBook Pro.
Remarkably, it's a decade since Steve Jobs pulled the original MacBook Air from a mailing envelope to introduce it. And the MacBook Air remains a strong seller for Apple, which is why a direct replacement is likely in the face of ever-increasing PC competition.
We thought we might see new non-Pro Apple notebooks at Apple's education-orientated Field Trip event in Chicago at the end of March, although it ended up focussing on a new iPad instead. Since then, we've had the new MacBook Pro models hit the streets, with refreshed 13 and 15-inch TouchBar models slotting in alongside the unchanged 13-inch non-TouchBar version.
So what are we expecting? There may a cheaper version of the MacBook Air which may or may not have a new name. It could just be a 13-inch version of the existing MacBook, with the "Air" moniker shown the door. That's the conclusion of usually-reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
We don't yet know much about this all-new 13-inch MacBook, including what form it would take or how it would differ from existing 12-inch MacBook or 13-inch MacBook Air and Pro models.
Why would there be a new MacBook Air?
- Still a good seller but current design is ageing
- Still room for a 13-inch ultraportable
The MacBook Air did get a few minor upgrades in 2017, but it's the only notebook in Apple's lineup that doesn't have a Retina display. And it hasn't had a major redesign for some time and is now getting a bit tired.
It's not the case design itself, but it doesn't have USB-C, for one thing. And it still uses MagSafe 2 for charging, unlike the MacBook and MacBook Pro.
Many had assumed Apple wanted the 12-inch MacBook to replace the MacBook Air.
However, due to the Air's affordability, sales have remained strong. And remember that not everybody wants such as small screen size. The 11-inch MacBook Air, was discontinued entirely.
And consider that the 13-inch MacBook Pro with no Touch Bar starts at £1,249 - £300 more than the entry-level Air model. And for most people, the power advantage of the Pro just isn't necessary.
According to a report by DigiTimes in August, Apple plans to launch a new "entry-level" MacBook in September. The story reckons the 13-inch MacBook will start at $1,200 and will be powered by 14-nanometer Kaby Lake Intel Core processors (not a massive leap there, granted). As we said, it may well be a new MacBook Air instead. Another analyst at TrendForce believes Apple will release a new MacBook Air this autumn, too.
According to an EEC leak, there may be up to five new MacBook laptops and five new iPads in the coming months. The EEC approves tech products for sale in Russia, Armenia and other Eurasian countries, so the list is almost a guarantee that certain products exist.
The five tablets - model numbers A1876, A1934, A1979, A2013 and A2014 - are said to have been running iOS 11 when tested.
The MacBooks - models A1931, A1932, A1988, A1989 and A1990 - were running macOS 10.13 High Sierra.
Those last two model numbers are the new MacBook Pros, so what are the other three Macs - A1931, A1932 and A1988? They're the new, cheaper Macs, that's what.
iOS 12 and MacOS Mojave will appear around September/October and the listed products have been approved running existing software, it is likely they will appear before then (with software updates to follow).
What specs would a new MacBook have?
- Still Intel-based, but could this change in the future?
- Could have a co-processor
- Will have a retina LCD display
Expect the MacBook Air replacement to retain Intel Core i5 processors with an option for Core i7. Intel has just announced new versions of these CPUs under the codename Coffee Lake - marketed as 8th generation Intel Core processors.
Bloomberg recently reported that Apple was working on its very own custom co-processors to put into two new notebooks and a new desktop and DigiTimes reported that the tech giant was working on a new 13-inch MacBook model, although didn't explicitly state whether it was an Air or some other model - this could be the recently-revealed MacBook Pro 13 with TouchBar.
Because of what Apple has done elsewhere, the company has considered developing its own ARM-based processors to run future MacBooks and the rumours are that an Apple-designed CPU may come to a future MacBook, possibly in a couple of years time.
And it's even more unlikely at the high end where the MacBook Pro offers users the kind of horsepower that can currently only come from an Intel Core i5, i7 or i9 processor.
Apple has apparently experimented with unifying macOS and iOS apps, however. This unification for developers would be a forerunner to any move to ARM-based chips for macOS.
The new 13-inch MacBook will probably have an LCD display, whereas Apple may at some point upgrade its Pro line with OLED displays. DigiTimes' senior researcher, Jim Hsiao says that Apple initially looked at using displays from a China-based supplier to reduce costs, but has instead turned to LG Display to produce the 2,560 x 1,600 panels.
The current MacBook has the same resolution and if it transpires that this new laptop takes the Air moniker, it will be the first MacBook Air with a Retina display.
Quanta Computer is said to take on around 70 percent of production duties, while Foxconn will handle the remaining 30 percent.
It's claimed Apple expects to ship around six million units of the new MacBook before the year is out. However, Hsiao expects the technology giant to sell closer to four million, largely because the price, while affordable for Apple products, will still be out of the reach of many consumers.
Why not also read: Apple's forgotten tech: The Apple gear you won't remember
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