12-inch MacBook — Everything we know so far

Macbook (Image credit: iMore)

Apple's 12-inch MacBook was a much-loved if much-maligned part of its notebook lineup until it was discontinued in 2019. Now rumors are beginning to suggest that it is getting ready for a comeback. And this time it's going to have Apple silicon, not a power-hungry Intel chip, at its heart.

12-inch MacBook display

Based on claims made by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the new MacBook will come with a 12-inch display, although exact measurements aren't clear at this time. Given Apple's current move toward a notch design and stretching the display to the corners of the notebook's lid, it's possible we could see a slightly larger panel used.

However, display analyst Ross Young isn't so sure, saying that Apple's strategy appears to be to release Macs with screens of 13 inches and larger, while everything below that is an iPad of some sort. Apple's strategies can and do change, of course, so that's something to keep in mind here.

12-inch MacBook processor

Apple's move to M2 silicon is now underway following the announcement of the latest MacBook Air and the arrival of a new 13-inch MacBook Pro. That means that we can safely expect the 12-inch MacBook to go the same route — but there's a spanner in the works. Leaker Majin Bu believes that M2 Pro or M2 Max chips could be possible, making it more of a 12-inch MacBook Pro.

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Apple's previous 12-inch MacBook was a low-powered Intel machine and one that didn't have a fan to boot. A fanless design is possible with M2 chips, but the M2 Pro and M2 Max are unlikely to be capable of staying cool in such an environment.

12-inch MacBook design

In terms of looks, little has been shared via the few leaks we've seen so far. However, it seems likely that Apple would seek to make the 12-inch MacBook into a smaller version of the refreshed MacBook Air — unless claims of a more Pro-focus turn out to be accurate, that is. If this machine is indeed a 12-inch MacBook Pro, expect more subdued color options and a thicker design to accommodate fans.

M2 Macbook Air Open

M2 Macbook Air Open (Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

If Apple does go the MacBook Air route, new colors could be offered while a super-thin chassis seems likely, especially if Apple can get away with not putting a fan inside the machine. The 12-inch MacBook was often regarded as one of the best Macs for people who needed a Mac, not an iPad, that was perfect for travel. An Apple silicon version that isn't hamstrung by poor Intel performance and battery life would be even better.

12-inch MacBook price and availability

If Apple does decide to go ahead with the plans as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman sees them, they expect a launch to take place either toward the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.

"Apple has also begun work on a new 12-inch laptop and is considering launching it at the end of 2023 or in early 2024. If Apple moves forward with the release, it would represent the company's smallest laptop since it discontinued the 12-inch MacBook in 2019," Gurman said.

Those timescales do make us wonder whether we might see M3-based chips rather than the rumored M2, but it's still early days in this cycle of rumors for a machine we didn't know was in the works until early June 2022.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.