Skip to main content

Is a new MacBook Air just around the corner?

MacBook Air
MacBook Air

Rumors started circulating Wednesday that Apple's about to pull the trigger on a refresh to the MacBook Air, equipping it with a moderately faster processor and bigger battery. The update could arrive next week when Apple is expected to show off the Apple Watch at its Spring Forward event in San Francisco. Is a faster processor and bigger battery all Apple needs to keep up the MacBook Air's momentum?

A recent post on MacRumors points to a Chinese site that purportedly has screenshots of the system profile of a new MacBook Air that carries the model identifier "MacBookAir7,2." Apple's current MacBook Air model is identified as "MacBookAir6,2."

The profile information presented on Feng.com suggests that the new MacBook Air is equipped with an Intel "Broadwell" processor. If it's true, this would mark the first time a Mac model is equipped with the new processor. Two years ago the MacBook Air was the first Mac model to feature Haswell processors, so the progression makes sense.

macOS Sierra

MacBook review
MacBook buyers guide
○ MacBook news
MacBook forums
Buy at Apple (opens in new tab)

Broadwell is the latest generation of Intel Core processor, based on the "Haswell" processors currently in most Macs. Intel first expected Broadwell chips to go into production early last year, but it wasn't until January, 2015 that Intel revealed the whole line, including the chips likely to make it into the next generation of Macs.

Rumors have bounced around for months that Apple is on the verge of releasing a Retina MacBook Air, the first MBA model equipped with a Retina display. The information posted to the Chinese site indicates that this particular Mac is operating at the standard MBA resolution of 1440 x 900, which would suggest it is not, in fact, a Retina model. That doesn't preclude the existence of a Retina MacBook Air, however. To that end, the Wall Street Journal claims that a 12-inch Retina MacBook Air is already in production and should be released to retail sometime in the second calendar quarter of 2015. It's also a likely candidate for the Broadwell processor treatment.

When Broadwell ultimately comes to the Mac, don't expect huge changes just because of the new processor. The MacRumors article suggests the MacBook Air will get a 200 MHz processor speed boost (from 1.4 to 1.6 GHz), with faster integrated graphics than last year's model.

Broadwell will introduce some efficiency improvements too. This new MacBook Air model purportedly has more battery capacity than its predecessor. Current MacBook Air models can operate continuously for up to 12 hours between charges. PC ultrabooks are already exceeding that in some cases, so it behooves Apple to keep the MacBook Air as power-competitive as possible.

Whether Apple introduces a refreshed MacBook Air at next week's Spring Forward event or waits, Apple's product cycle suggests that a MacBook Air refresh is coming soon. If you're in the market for a new lightweight Mac laptop, I'd recommend waiting just a bit to see what's coming.

18 Comments
  • I could certainly see the regular MBA getting updated soon, I'm just wondering if it will be a quiet refresh or actually be announced at the event. Certainly the MBA+R would warrant an announcement on its own. I could see the retina being announced with a shipping date and then them tacking on "also, our current MB Airs are being refreshed with the same internals" to not take away from either product. Seems like if they update the regular air with broadwell chips EVERYONE would be asking where the long rumored retina is!
  • Agreed.. Plus, rumors, though with a grain of salt, strongly suggestion the Retina MBA will get Skylake.. and Intel says thats not due until summer.. Would prefer Skylake in the rMBA anyway.. worth the wait.. So at best, current gen MBA CPU refresh.. and later rMBA..
  • The situation is confusing for sure. I would expect that once the 12" is announced that it would actually be the replacement for the current lineup. The idea of keeping the 11" 12" and 13" all around together makes no sense at all. So it makes almost no sense to update the current MBA internals at this event (or indeed silently), if the new 12" model is indeed imminent. Similarly, if the chips necessary to make the new 12" retina are going to be available "soon" then it makes no sense to produce a non-retina model this close to that possibility, and yet makes them unable to produce a retina model today. If the update turns out to be just internals on the old models, then the retina Air is clearly pushed out to at lest the end of the year. If the announcement at the event is for the new retina one, then it seems unlikely to be available until mid-year despite the early announcement, so why announce it now anyway?
  • If only they would launch a retina model. Guess though that it won't be happening any time soon if this rumor is to be believed. I am always hoping that a retina MBA would be launched and I would switch out the iMac for something more portable. Especially since I now realize that I do far less with the 27 inch iMac and it really really was too much computing power for all those web based applications. Oh well, will sit and wait and hope and pray. I don't really want to buy a retina Mac Book Pro when a MBA would do just as fine.
  • Broadwell upgrade next week. 12 inch retina MBA with skylake in the fall along with new MacBook Pro 's also using skylake. Sent from the iMore App
  • My guess would be they won't be announcing anything else major at the watch event than the watch itself and I'd consider a retina Air to be reasonably major.
    A retina Air would raise the question of what makes a MacBook Pro a MacBook Pro as one of the current key distinguishing features would be eliminated.
  • Yes. They will announce the retina air once the pro has skylake and some other features that will differentiate the 2 Sent from the iMore App
  • There's still a significant difference between air and pro. If a retina air shipped with w 2.2 ghz processor and 8gb of ram then that point would be very reasonable, but we know that won't happen!
  • What is Retina in an actual resolution pls? "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • The retina definition is based on "resolution @ distance" so there is no "retina resolution" per se. It varies by device, by person, by distance to device, etc.
  • So it's marketing hype? Lame. I was hoping for numbers. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • I don't give a rat's behind about "retina" (and neither should you), but I am interested in this year's MacBook Air rumour even though I don't usually even buy laptops. The only reason I'm interested this year is because of the rumoured different colours that might be available. ALL of my Mac stuff is white and aluminium. If the new MacBook Air comes has a model with white keys instead of the usual black and white bezels instead of the usual black ... then I'm in. Otherwise, what's the point? I don't *need* a laptop, I just would *like* to get one. I'm not going to get one if it would look ugly next to all my other stuff, that wouldn't fit in with my decor, my clothing, or my lifestyle. Let's face it, a part of the reason we buy Apple products is how they look. Now that they sell almost everything they make in light or dark models, why should I not expect the same from my laptop? If Apple is jumping into the fashion industry with both feet, isn't it time we get colour options for our PCs?
  • White keys eh? The biggest selling accessory for that model would be keyboard cleaner or matching white gloves!
  • Why should we not care about a Retina display? Personally I would love the extra resolution though I'm considering selling my MBA since I never use it. And maybe part of the reason YOU buy Apple products is how they look. The MBAs look nice, but I use an iPhone 6 Plus despite disliking the design. The current MBA's have a silver bezel too, not black.
  • Nah, part of the reason *most* people buy Apple products is the way they look. They way they look is a large part of the design after all. The white keyboard would not be any harder to keep clean than Apple's No. 1 selling bluetooth keyboard (which only comes in white), this has never been a huge problem for people. By "black bezel" I was of course referring to the MacPros and the one leaked part from the new 12" MacBook Air which shows that they are going the same way with the new screen as the MacBook Pro line (glass painted black on the rear surface). I don't see any reason why, if they are going to use glass and paint it black, that it couldn't also be painted white just as they do for the white iPads. It would make the MacBook Air look like an iPad in a keyboard case, but larger. Considering they are also supposed to be imminently releasing a large iPad which if it were in a keyboard case would look almost identical to this MacBook air also lends credence to the idea. Apple hasn't made any products I actually like for about two and half years now so I'm thinking I am probably wrong about this as they will probably continue on that streak of lacklustre products they've been popping out lately. But I can dream. :-)
  • I take all rumors with a grain of salt, but if the MBA is getting a processor bump it would seem that it would replace the entire line with updated internals. I too think we won't see a Retina MBA until the Skylark chips are released, as Apple would not release an Air without both amazing battery life, yet enough juice to drive the display. As it stands, accomplishing that with Broadwell would be a difficult task. Sent from the iMore App
  • I buy mac products because I like the Eco system. I've been buying them (or bought for me) for about 30 years now. I'm an Apple girl to my core. Do I like the way they look? Yes. Does that influence why I buy them? Not so much. I Have plenty of people I've recomme Apple products to and the discussions we have are NEVER about how they look. It's always about how it functions and the ease of use. My boss had an android for a few years, we were always on the phone for tech support with that thing.
    She up and decided to get an iPhone ine day and she never looked back. She had a MacBook Pro, and iPad and and iMac so it made sense to her to get an iPhone sincer the android was always a pain in the ass.
    I am greatful because I haven't had been o be tech support for her devices in 2 years now. She figures most stuff out on her own, something that never happened when she had an android.
    So for many people "it just works" still holds true.
  • It turns out it is not a MacBook Air as rumored, it is a MacBook. So does this mean the Mac Air or Pro eventual replaced or discontinued? I believe the new MacBook is the Pros eventual replacement. But where does this leave the Air? We will see probably at the fall event.