Apple developing two cheap MacBooks that could cost less than $700

M1 MacBook Air
(Image credit: Future)

As Apple’s surprise October Mac event looms, a new leak has hinted at the company’s plans to launch not one but two low-cost MacBooks that could be less than $700. 

Apple will host its Scary Fast event on October 30, with headlines expected to include the new M3 Apple silicon processor and a new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro. But while they might be some of Apple’s best MacBooks, they’re also the most expensive. Currently, Apple’s cheapest MacBook is the M1 MacBook Air from 2020, which is crying out for an upgrade. What’s more, the lineup as a whole could really use a cheaper option, something Apple also seems to have figured out. 

A user on Naver with a track record of leaking Apple’s plans has this week claimed that Apple is currently developing a “12-inch base” and  “13-inch educational models.” Unless the former is a pizza, it could indicate that Apple plans to bring back its famed 12-inch form factor as a very cheap Chromebook alternative alongside a more financially viable 13-inch model for students. In the comments of the post, the source reiterated that these models would cost less than $700. 

Low-cost strategy - iMore’s take

Earlier this year Digitimes reported that Apple “is reportedly developing a low-cost MacBook series to compete with Chromebook models in the education sector that could be released as early as the second half of 2024.” That report claimed the cheaper model would be different even from Apple’s current entry-level MacBook Pro and Air models, using cheaper chassis materials and cheaper components to save costs. 

These laptops are still likely some months away if they exist at all, but these rumors are picking up steam. Even Apple’s cheapest M1 MacBook Air is still quite an expensive purchase for some families, in particular students in full-time study. To me, there doesn’t seem to be any downside to Apple releasing a cheaper alternative. Positioning it as a Chromebook rival makes less sense, however. As we’ve noticed previously, the most popular Chromebooks on Amazon cost around $2-300, cheaper than even Apple’s 10th-gen iPad. The idea that you’d be able to buy a current MacBook for anywhere near that money is a pipe dream. Even the cheapest MacBook is likely going to be more expensive than any budget Windows or Chrome machine, but it will make the Mac line more accessible, at least to some, and that can only be a good thing. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9