MacBook Air Update: Price, specs, and features

Apple's current generation MacBook is still too expensive to be considered entry-level. Apple's current entry-level is anything but this generation, never mind next. So, rumor has it, Apple is readying an all-new MacBook Air-style entry-level device to breathe some fresh air into the sub-$1000 notebook market.

And these are the rumors.

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September 10, 2018: Next-gen MacBook Air rumored to include Touch ID... but not Touch Bar!

Ming-Chi Kuo, who can get information out of the supply chain like nobody's business, is back with more rumors about Apple's next-generation entry-level MacBook (maybe Air):

Via MacRumors:

The new low-price MacBook may replace the position of the current 12" MacBook. We expect this new model to support the Touch ID but it will not have the Touch Bar.

It's not clear if Kuo is saying the new entry-level MacBook will replace the 12-inch MacBook Pro, or simply take the sub $1000 slot that the 12-inch MacBook never managed to do.

The soonest Apple could announce the new MacBook is the September 12 special event, otherwise it's anytime thereafter.

We'll know for sure when we see it.

August 20, 2018: MacBook Air refresh with thinner bezels once again rumored for the fall

The sub-$1000 MacBook category has been dormant for a while, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how Apple reignites it.

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:

The new laptop will look similar to the current MacBook Air, but will include thinner bezels around the screen. The display, which will remain about 13-inches, will be a higher-resolution "Retina" version that Apple uses on other products, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing products still in development.

Be interesting to see how a smaller-cased 13-inch Air is positioned vis-a-vis the current 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro.

We'll have to wait and see.

July 11, 2018: Apple still planning MacBook Air-style entry-level laptop

Kuo Ming-Chi has issued another of his supply-chain exfiltrated, product prognosticating research notes to clients. This one includes rumors of the long-awaited MacBook Air update.

From MacRumors:

Kuo believes Apple is designing a new low-priced notebook. He originally said that this would be in the MacBook Air family, but now has changed his mind. Previous rumors have suggested this machine could be a 12-inch MacBook, so Apple may be planning to expand the MacBook lineup with an additional low-cost option to replace the MacBook Air. Hopefully, it'll actually hit the shelves this year.

Look for it this fall.

April 30, 2018: New rumors suggest the updated MacBook Air might not ship until fall 2018

Rumors about rumored products are as sketchy as they get. But, due to the availability of components or the need to finalize software, Apple has pushed back several products in recent years, both internally and publicly. So, it wouldn't be surprising if the supposed new, updated MacBook Air was caught up, for example, waiting on Intel.

From DigiTimes:

The sources said that Apple has informed supply chain partners that mass production of its new notebook model for 2018 will not kick off until the second half of the year, yet without explaining the rescheduling move. Some partners speculated that the postponement might be caused by problems with some key components such as processors.The planned new MacBook Air will have a slim design, and come with Retina high-resolution screen and Intel's latest notebook processor. Unit price for the new model is expected to be lowered from US$999 to US$899 or down further to US$799, which in turn may push up sales of MacBook series by over 10% in 2018 to regain part of market shares held by Chromebooks, according to market observers.

We, of course, can only wait and see.

Apple has let the MacBook Air lie fallow for years now, despite it being an ultra-light, port-strewn, entry-level consumer favorite. It's not Retina. It's old architecture. And the 12-inch MacBook simply hasn't come down in price or up in ports to take its place. But now, rumor has it Apple could be ready to breathe new life in the old Air.

From the report, shared by MacRumors:

We expect Apple (US) to roll out the new MacBook Air with a lower price tag in 2Q18. We forecast total shipments of MacBook models will grow 10-15% YoY in 2018 (vs. 0-5% YoY decline for the NB industry), up from 15.5-16mn units in 2017. While Quanta, Radiant, Catcher and SZS are likely to benefit from strong shipments momentum, SZS also stands to benefit from increased market share and a higher ASP.

Interestingly, the video above, which I shot with analyst Ben Bajarin on Thursday and posted early this morning, begins like this:

If all they did was update the [MacBook] Air with Retina and modern specs, and price it around $899, [Apple] would take share like nobody's business.They would really disrupt PC sales in a significant way.

I'll have a full transcript posted soon but, in the meantime, hit play for more on the potential MacBook Air update and a full preview of what might be coming from Apple at the rumored March Event.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.