It's looking very likely that Apple's 'Scary Fast' event will be announcing new M3 chips later today to follow on from the current crop of M2-branded Apple silicon. We'll be covering everything that happens at 5 PM PT/ 8 PM ET/ 11:59 PM GMT. You can read up about how you can watch it with our helpful guide.
If everything follows the pattern of the M1 and M2, the base model M3 chip will find its way into the 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro not to mention the second-generation 15-inch MacBook Air. However, the order that those machines will ship in is very much up in the air right now.
Following the news that the M3 13-inch MacBook Pro could arrive before the end of 2023, it seems increasingly likely that the MacBook Air will have to wait. But it might be worth that wait, at least.
Apple M3 MacBook Air: The headlines
- What is it? An updated version of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air with M3 chips.
- When can we expect it? It's unlikely that any new MacBook Air will ship until spring 2024 at the earliest.
- Rumored new features: M3 Apple silicon chip.
- Are there any surprises? It's unlikely that there will be many surprises when the new MacBook Airs arrive — but that doesn't mean that we can't hope.
M3 MacBook Air: Release date rumors
Having previously tipped some Macs for an October launch, Gurman had said that Apple may be holding an event on October 30 or 31, 2023. This is now confirmed, with a 'Scarty Fast' event being held later today.
Gurman believes that Apple's new MacBook Airs are likely to be announced in spring 2024 at the earliest, with a June WWDC event unveiling a good bet. That event has brought new MacBook Air laptops to market before, and Gurman reports that the new hardware is already at the EVT stage, or engineering verification test stage. That would suggest a June release could well be in the cards based on the amount of development still required to bring these devices to stores
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M3 MacBook Air: Features and specifications
Beyond the arrival of a new M3 chip, we aren't expecting all that much from the updated MacBook Air, no matter the screen size. That means it's all about the M3, and based on Gurman's previous information we can expect it to have eight CPU cores with 10 GPU cores in the base model. It's possible that there will be an upgraded version with more cores, but we'll have to wait and see what Apple announces before we can be sure.
In terms of other specifications, it's possible that the M3 chip will allow the MacBook Air to offer more than 24GB of RAM, while the storage that currently tops out at 2TB could potentially be increased. We'd expect things like battery life to remain stellar, while upgrades over the current Liquid Retina displays seem unlikely — the two 13.6- and 15.4-inch displays are already stunners, after all.
M3 MacBook Air: What we want to see
The current MacBook Air is arguably the best Mac for a whole lot of people, especially those who don't need the extra capabilities that something like the 14-inch MacBook Pro can offer. The M3 version will be even better, of that there is no doubt. But there are still some areas that we'd like to see improved.
Whether or not this wishlist will bear fruit or not, we don't know. But we're going to reach for the stars here and see what happens.
A better base spec
The current M2 MacBook Air ships with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, no matter whether you buy the big one or the small one. Both of those figures can be increased, as you'd expect. But as you'd also expect, that can come with a heavy price bump.
We'd prefer it if the M3 versions of the MacBook Air came with more. To be specific, we'd like more RAM and more storage. We'll ignore the fact that these changes would put the MacBook Air on par with the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros and ahead of the 13-inch MacBook Pro in some respects, because the point still stands — we'd like more.
512GB of SSD storage would give everyone more room to breathe, especially when macOS Sonoma's stunning new wallpapers and screensavers can take multiple gigabytes apiece. On top of that, doubling the RAM to 16GB would help these portable Macs run games and apps more readily.
If Apple isn't going to give us a better starting point, we'd like the upgrade pricing to be more realistic. Everyone can agree that adding more RAM or storage to a Mac is a costly endeavor. We'd like that to change.
Right now, doubling the 8GB of RAM to 16GB costs $200, and increasing it to 24GB costs $400. Want more storage? Upgrading from 256GB to 512GB costs $200, and it's another $200 to get to 1TB. It's an $800 upgrade to go from 256GB to 2TB, too.
Apple's port situation has improved greatly, but only really on the best MacBook Pros. The MacBook Air still has just two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and that just isn't enough. Not unless you want to add an expensive dock to your setup.
Some of this could be alleviated by adding a MagSafe charger to free up one of those USB-C ports, but we'd also like to see at least an SDXC card reader. If Apple wants photographers and videographers to take these thin and light machines on location, they need an easy way to read those cards, after all.
M3 MacBook Air: Price
Buying the 256GB 13-inch Air Pro today will set you back $1,099 and there haven't been any rumors to suggest that will change next time out. Buying a 15-inch model means handing over $1,299 and again, that's probably unlikely to change all that much.
As we already discussed, adding more storage or RAM will increase the price as will choosing a more core-heavy chip. Apple could effectively cut the price of the MacBook Air by improving the entry-level specification, but we'll have to wait for the new laptop to be announced before we find out whether that's going to happen or not.
M3 MacBook Air: Colors
The MacBook Air currently ships in a choice of four colors; Midnight, Silver, Space Gray, and Starlight.
Whether that will change this year, the rumors haven't told us, although there was a suggestion that the new laptops would get colors to match the iMac last year. That didn't happen, but there is always the chance it could in the future.
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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.