We were impressed with the 1.1GHz MacBook Air Apple introduced in March 2020, and then Apple blew that out of the water with the M1 MacBook Air in November 2020. But November 2020 was a long time ago and thoughts are turning to the next MacBook Air, what we can expect and when it will arrive.
The good news is that apparently there is a new-look MacBook Air in the works, and Apple is planing a colourful redesign to boot.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman (who seems to have access to some pretty good sources), Apple is developing a “thinner and lighter version of the MacBook Air.” This new MacBook Air will apparently lose the tapered design it is famous for. In fact, it may not even be called the MacBook Air: Apple could bring back the MacBook.
The redesign could also bring a new collection of colors, according to Jon Prosser, who suggests that this new Mac laptop will come in a variety of colours similar to the 24in iMac. Another rumour indicates that Apple might even launch a new 15in MacBook Air alongside the standard 13in model. Read more about the new design for the MacBook Air below.
In this article we’ll investigate what’s in store for the new MacBook Air. We’ll evaluate when in 2022 a new MacBook Air will launch, if it will have an M2 chip, and we’ll take a look at the anticipated features and improvements.
The new MacBook Air has been a long time coming: there were suggestions early in 2021 that we could see a new MacBook Air that year. Obviously that didn’t transpire, but it does indicate that this isn’t a new project at Apple.
With the next Apple event scheduled for WWDC on June 6 there will be some anticipation that a new MacBook Air could be unveiled during the keynote. An WWDC appearance for the new MacBook Air is possible, but at this point we’d count it as a long shot. Instead we expect the new MacBook Air to launch in autumn 2022.
This is based on the predictions of analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in September 2021. Kuo also tweeted (below) that he expects Apple to start mass production of the redesigned MacBook Air in the late second or early third quarter of 2022. While Kuo’s prediction could indicate a June launch, a fall launch does seem more likely. Read: Redesigned MacBook Air to begin production in summer 2022.
You’ll notice that Kuo also suggests that the new MacBook Air will include an M1 chip, contrary to reports that indicate the M2 will make an appearance in the new MacBook Air. We’ll discuss the processor in more detail below.
Luckily the current model is still an excellent purchase. If you don’t want to wait to buy a new MacBook Air you can find the best deals right now here:
Best MacBook Air deals.
According to the January 2021 Bloomberg report mentioned above, this new laptop will be positioned as a higher-end version of the current MacBook Air with the current models remaining on sale.
Should the new model come in at the top of the range we would expect Apple to drop the price of the current models, which could mean that the entry-level MacBook Air sees a price drop to £849/$899 while the new model, with its new design, comes in at £1,349/$1,399.
Back in December 2020 Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made a prediction that Apple will launch a new, more “affordable” MacBook Air in 2022. In this case the starting price could be less than the current £999/$999.
MacBook Air or MacBook?
We’re assuming for the sake of this article that Apple will stick with the MacBook Air name for the next revision, but when he first shared rumors about the redesign Jon Prosser noted that his sources hadn’t confirmed that it was a MacBook Air. So it’s possible that the rumours Mac laptop marks the return of the MacBook, which Apple discontinued in 2019 and was recently made vintaged by Apple.
A new MacBook variant could be a replacement for the 13in MacBook Pro as well as a successor to the MacBook Air. Such a change would simplify the line up. The range is a little complicated currently, with two MacBook Air, two 13in MacBook Pro and then the two 14in MacBook Pro and three 16in MacBook Pro. The 13in MacBook Pro are great, but should they be classed with the 14in and 16in Models that are truly pro machines? We also have a roundup of rumours about the 2022 MacBook Pro.
It’s been reported for months that Apple is working on a lighter and thinner redesign for the MacBook Air. Back in May 2021 Jon Prosser shared information from a source (the same source who revealed that Apple was going to launch iMacs in different colours back in 2021) that indicated that Apple is working on a new MacBook Air with an all new design in a variety of new colours. Read: A colourful MacBook is coming.
Prosser had Ian Zelbo (RendersbyIan) create images based on the information the source provided about the new MacBook Air. He claimed that they had quite a lot of information to work with.
The original May 2021 renders were based on information Prosser was able to obtain at that time, for example that the bezels and keys on the keyboard are white, as seen in the image below.
Prosser also revealed that the tapered look that the MacBook Air is famed for will be no more. Instead it will have a flat design and the case will be only fractionally thicker than a USB-C socket, of which Prosser indicated there are two.
As for colours, Prosser claimed that there will be blue and green options and he suggests that they will be “very close, if not identical” to the 24in iMac. The 24in iMac comes in seven different colours: blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange and purple.
Read more about the information used by Prosser to create the images here: First look at colourful MacBook Air.
In an August 2021 note to investors Kuo also claimed that Apple plans to give customers more color choices with the new MacBook Air. More here: Redesigned, colorful MacBook Air on way, says analyst.
Then in October 2021 Prosser and Zelbo returned to those render to add two new features based on the launch of the 2021 MacBook Pro and “recent reports”, as Prosser put it in his FrontPageTech report. The newer images now include a notch, see: What a MacBook Air could look like with a notch.
If there is a notch at the top of the screen to accommodate the webcam, and the frame is white, then we can expect the notch to be white too.
It’s not only Prosser who expects to see a colorful MacBook Air. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also expect Apple to launch colorful MacBook Air models in 2022.
In a Bloomberg article from January 2021 Mark Gurman described how the upcoming MacBook Air will be thinner and lighter while maintaining the current 13.3in screen size. In order to achieve this he suggested that Apple will reduce the size of the bezels around the screen.
Right now the dimensions of the MacBook Air are 11.97in x 8.36in x 0.16-0.63in (or 30.41cm x 21.24cm x 0.41-1.61cm).
The closest we can get to a prediction of how much smaller the MacBook Air could be while maintaining the same screen size is to look at the 16in MacBook Pro compared to the 15in model. When Apple updated the design of its larger MacBook Pro it increased the size of the screen partly by reducing the bezel size and partly by increasing the size of the Mac itself.
But this time the plan appears to be to keep the screen size the same while shaving a little off the edges. On that basis we’d expect Apple to shave off at least a centimeter from the dimensions over all. So we could be looking at around 11.61in x 7.87in (or 29.5cm x 20cm).
There’s one thing that could stop the laptop getting any smaller. The optimum keyboard size. Apple’s Magic Keyboard is about 11in (27.9cm) wide so it’s unlikely that the new MacBook Air would be any smaller than that – reducing the size further would mean that the keys were too close together to type comfortably.
Other clues come from the past: back in 2016 Apple discontinued the 11in MacBook Air. You might be thinking that would have been tiny, but the measurements were 11.8in x 7.56in (or 30cm x 19.2cm), which isn’t much smaller than the current dimensions.
The other dimension that could change is how narrow the MacBook Air is. There are rumours that the classic wedge shape will be eliminated in favour of adding more ports – there will be many hoping for HDMI or a built-in card reader.
New 15in MacBook Air
According to the Bloomberg report from January 2021, Apple actually considered making a 15in version of the MacBook Air, but scrapped that idea.
However, just over a year later the same rumored popped up again, with suggestions that a 15in MacBook Air is in the works at Apple. According to the Quarterly Advanced IT Display Shipment and Technology Report from Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), who’s CEO is analyst Ross Young, Apple will introduce a 15in MacBook Air in 2023.
This won’t be the first time Apple has sold a 15in MacBook of course, the 15in MacBook Pro was sold until 2019 when Apple introduced the 16in model in a not much larger case. Nor is it the first time Apple has sold two sizes of MacBook Air – previously there was a smaller 11in model.
9to5Mac that the new 15in model will be a variant of the MacBook Air that will not replace the current model, but complement it.
Young’s predictions regarding displays have been reasonably accurate in recent years (although his expectations that Apple would update the 27in iMac turned out to be based on information relating to the 27in Studio Display.)
It seems that this new 15in size won’t be introduced until 2023, if at all.
In March 2021 Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that he believed that Apple will launch a new model of MacBook Air with mini-LED in 2022 in 2022.
This seems likely. This mini-LED screen technology is already found in the latest MacBook Pro and iPad Pro models. Mini-LED is a screen backlighting tech that provides better colour reproduction, blacker blacks, higher contrast and greater dynamic range.
Mini-LED displays bring the following improvements:
Deeper and darker blacks
Brighter, richer colours
Without the burn-in issues of OLED
More power efficient
Allowing for thinner and lighter products
One other screen-related change that some people would love to see is a touch screen Mac – especially now that it is possible to run iOS apps on Mac’s with M1 chips. If you are wondering “Will there ever be a touch screen Mac?” prepare to be disappointed though.
Notch or not?
After the new MacBook Pro was announced with a screen notch, MacRumors uncovered a rumor from Chinese leaker Ty98 that suggested the MacBook Air will have a similar design for its front camera. You can see how that might look in the design section above or read: More evidence for MacBook Air redesign.
But does the MacBook Air really need a notch like the 2021 MacBook Pro? Apple added the notch to the MacBook Pro as a way to make the screen bigger without adjusting the size of the device. We’d argue that Apple doesn’t need to increase the screen size or reduce the dimensions of the MacBook Air, so maybe a notch isn’t necessary.
For those who dislike the notch on the MacBook Pro, Apple’s Product Line Manager, Pro Mac Shruti Haldea has this to say: The notch is a “really smart way to give you more space for your content” because the menu bar has moved up into new space on either side of the notch while the rest of the screen has the same 16:10 aspect ratio as before.
“What we’ve done is we’ve actually made the display taller,” she points out. More here:
Apple exec defends MacBook Pro’s screen notch.
Whether or not it’s concealed in a notch, we hope that Apple adds a better webcam. The current 720p FaceTime camera is terrible, we’d hope for a HD (1080p) webcam as seen in the iMac and the 2021 MacBook Pro models. To be honest if Apple doesn’t do this it would be a travesty! Even better if the new camera also offers Face ID. Read about Face ID on the Mac.
If this new MacBook Air is to be thinner and lighter than currently what does this mean for the components on the inside?
Right now the Air can be limited by the fact that it lacks space for cooling and heat dissipation – the current model doesn’t even have a fan. Without a means of cooling itself Apple has to stop the MacBook Air from getting too hot – which generally means slowing it down when the going gets tough.
With that in mind we shouldn’t expect the upcoming MacBook Air to be much more powerful than it is currently, and certainly not as powerful as the MacBook Pro, but we can expect some improvements.
Processor & Graphics
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg has reported that we could see a new MacBook Air with a new System on a Chip (SoC) that replaces the M1. Dylandkt (the now retired Twitter user) has also said the MacBook Air will use an M2 chip.
In July 2021 Dylandkt indicated that the new MacBook Air will feature an M2, rather than a M1X (which we now know to be called the M1 Pro and M1 Max). In a tweet that is now offline Dylandkt wrote:
Just wanted to share some details on when to expect the next generation M2 (not the M1X which is reserved for the Pro Mac devices). This processor is on track to release in the first half of 2022 alongside the upcoming colorful Macbook (Air).— Dylan (@dylandkt) July 5, 2021
Dylan (@dylandkt) on Twitter
However, Ming Chi Kuo wrote in a tweet in March 2022 that the processor in the new MacBook Air will be an M1 (see tweet above).
The inclusion of an M1 chip in a new MacBook Air two years after the first M1 MacBook Pro launched would be very surprising. While the new design may be an incentive to purchasers, the M1 chip will be looking old by then. It could just be a typo: a separate report from Ming-Chi Kuo in September 2021 indicated that the new MacBook Air will use “upgraded Apple Silicon”.
However, it is possible that Apple’s schedule for chip developments will be a lot longer than what we were used to with Intel. Rather than the yearly or 18 monthly updates we are used to, perhaps we could be waiting a lot longer for the next generation. If the M2 isn’t ready in 2022 we would expect to see the next generation in 2023, but perhaps the M2 MacBook Air won’t arrive until 2024.
As for what we can expect from the M2 when it does arrive, in his report at the end of 2021 Gurman indicated that the new chip (apparently codenamed Staten) will have the same number of processor cores as its predecessor the M1 (four performance cores, four efficiency cores), but will feature more graphics cores: there are suggestions that there could be up to ten such cores instead of eight graphics cores.
For more information about the various processors read about the M1 series and the M2 series. We also have this comparison of different Mac processors.
The memory is thought to be likely to remain at a maximum of 16GB with 8GB as standard. This is because an adaptation of the powerful chips of the MacBook Pro that support more RAM will not be possible due to the excessive power consumption and the fact that the MacBook Air lacks a fan.
Should Apple abandon the classic tapered ‘wedge’ shape in favour of a new uniform shape for the Air it could mean there’s room for more ports. However, it doesn’t mean that the Air will be thicker than it is currently: The housing itself could become thinner: renders have shown how a MacBook Air could look if it was just thick enough to feature a normal 3.5 mm jack for headphones.
The new MacBook Air could feature a MagSafe connector, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Now that the MacBook Pro has re-introduced the charging port, it seems likely to end up in the Air in a similar fashion. Apple allows charging through both MagSafe and Thunderbolt ports, and supports fast charging with a 96W power adapter on the 14-inch model.
Prosser and Zelbo have also creted an image showing how a MagSafe port might look on this new Mac laptop:
It is unlikely that we will see the return of the SD card slot, although the addition of an HDMI port would allow users to plug in more screens than is currently possible with the MacBook Air. Read: How to connect two or more external displays to M1 Macs.
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