It’s been a long time coming. But today could be the day we see a truly new MacBook Air.
After a few quiet days in the MacBook rumor department, a new report released this week by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo brought a handful of new details about what we might see at Apple’s big event. In addition, to new iPhones, Apple Watches, iPad Pros and other products in the pipeline, Kuo suggests that Apple is readying a new ‘low-priced’ MacBook that could replace the 12-inch model introduced in 2017. But there’s no guarantee it’ll be included in Apple’s announcements today.
In fact, the major MacBook-related highlight from Kuo’s report, summarized by Macrumors, is that the new model will have Touch ID — a feature presently available only on the higher-end MacBook Pro. But whether it shows up today or not, the rumors suggest that Apple plans to introduce a brand-new, redesigned MacBook Air before the end of 2018.
Yes, the company has made incremental updates to the MacBook Air over the past eight years — but the Air is more or less the same essential device Apple introduced in fall of 2010. The current 13-inch MacBook Air, released in August 2017, is nearly identical to its 2015 predecessor save for a microboost in the speed of its antiquated Intel CPU and a belated doubling of RAM. Suffice to say: A major makeover is way overdue.
In the interim, Apple has expended plenty of attention on the premium MacBook Pro line, regularly refreshing internal components and introducing innovations such as the Touch Bar. Just this June, the company delivered new 13-inch and 15-inch models. That effort hasn’t been flawless, though. Some recent MacBook Pros have been the subject of complaints and class action lawsuits due to concerns with their ultraflat butterly keyboards being rendered inoperable by a literal speck of dust. Despite an official denial, this brouhaha may have prompted Apple to retool the Pro line before releasing a new MacBook Air.
At the same time, Apple’s competitors have been flooding the market with alternatives that are well-designed, affordable and significantly more powerful. Exhibit A: Dell’s elegant XPS 13, which offers state-of-the-art Intel processors and other modern flourishes for $1,000. If you can tolerate Windows, there are many laptops to choose from that arguably deliver more value per dollar (or pound) than the outdated MacBook Air.
Still, the fact that Apple has left the Air in its lineup and not killed it off — as it just did with its AirPort networking products — has fans hoping for a Mac Pro-style stay of execution. After all, the basic design of the MacBook Air remains the Platonic ideal of a laptop to many. At the very least, a MacBook Air reboot — whether or not Apple sticks with the name — is an opportunity for Apple to redefine what kind of a laptop you can get for $1,000 in 2018.
To that end, we’ve collected all the rumors and published reports circulating about the forthcoming price, specs, features and design of the next MacBook Air equivalent. (Apple hasn’t announced anything officially, and did not respond to our request for a comment.) This roundup will be updated on an ongoing basis, so check back often to see breaking news and details about the 2018 MacBook Air. And join our live coverage of the big event starting at 9 a.m. PT.
Rumor: A new MacBook coming on Sept. 12
Will today’s big show include the MacBook Air? We don’t know. Apple hasn’t unveiled MacBooks in September before — and it’s likely that it may reserve that announcement for a separate event in October or later this year. Or not at all this year. Remember: these are all rumors.
If Apple holds back on Mac announcements today, the next feasible opportunity will be October — a month during which it has often debuted new Macs. And it’s not out of the question that we could see new iMacs and even updated Mac Minis, too.
Rumor: Support for Touch ID
Amidst a slew of predictions published on Monday by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (as reported by Macrumors), is that the new ‘lower-priced’ MacBook will have Touch ID — the fingerprint authentication system that first debuted on the iPhone 5S in 2013. Touch ID first migrated to the higher-end MacBook Pro lineup in 2016 and is featured on the newest models debuted in June.
Rumor: A 12-inch model?
Kuo’s most recent report muddies the water about the size of the forthcoming MacBook; though his wording is ambiguous, he seems to suggest that Apple may replace the current 12-inch MacBook with a new model. This conflicts with previous reports — including a DigiTimes article describing Apple’s plans to debut a new 13-inch model during the first half of 2018 and Bloomberg’s recent report describing a low-cost device that would ‘remain about 13-inches.’
Rumor: Retina Display, finally
Bloomberg reports that Apple plans to update that ‘low-cost’ MacBook with a high-resolution Retina screen. This bolsters an earlier report by DigiTimes that describes a new MacBook with a ‘slim design’ and a Retina display in addition to a contemporary Intel CPU; the newest Bloomberg information also suggests that the new model will have slimmer bezels. It’s hard to imagine Apple unveiling a new MacBook Air equivalent that doesn’t have all of this, at a minimum.
Price: Still under $1,000?
Bloomberg reported in March that a ‘new, cheaper MacBook laptop is in the works and likely destined to replace the MacBook Air at a price less than $1,000.’ Likewise, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the 2018 model will be even ‘more affordable’ than the current MacBook Air. More recently, however, DigiTimes reported that Apple has developed a new ‘entry-level’ MacBook that will run a new Intel CPU and will cost $1,200.
The current entry-level MacBook Air, with 128GB of hard-drive capacity, starts at $999, £949 or AU$1,499. The 256GB version costs $1,199. Third-party retailers now routinely discount the Air to $750 or $800, and its low price is key to its popularity.