In this 2014 MacBook Air with Retina display release date rumours article we aim to bring you everything we know about Apple's Retina MacBook Air release date so you'll know exactly when the new Retina MacBook Air will launch. We'll also be examining the rumours circulating the web - and we'll assess whether they are credible. Finally, we will show you any Retina MacBook Air images that surface online. So check back here regularly for the latest new MacBook Air with Retina display speculation.
Last updated 22 July 2014 with news that Intel is shipping Broadwell chips to its customers, but apparently these are the wrong Broadwell chips, so the new Retina MacBook Air might still be delayed...
Read our MacBook Air reviews.
New Retina 12in MacBook Air release date
We've been awaiting the launch of a new MacBook Air for some time - while Apple only recently made a few tweeks to the MacBook Air line up, this was mainly to reduce prices, the processor bump was very slight. What people are really waiting for is a new MacBook Air with Intel's Broadwell processor, and a Retina display.
The good news is that despite rumours of major delays, Intel has confirmed that it is finally shipping the Broadwell chips to its customers, like Apple.
In a conference call about Intel's second-quarter results on 15 July, Intel's chief executive Brian Krzanich confirmed Intel’s hardware partners will have Broadwell systems on store shelves in the run up to Christmas. He said: "We said we would have products on shelves for the holiday season and we continue to work with our partners and we’re on schedule to have product on shelf in the holiday."
However, anyone awaiting the new Retina MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac and Mac mini should note that there are various Broadwell chips being developed by Intel, and the chips that Intel confirmed are shipping now are the M variety, destined for fanless two-in-ones. The new MacBook Air is likely to use the U Broadwell processor, which may not ship until 2015.
When it does ship, Broadwell, which uses the 14nm manufacturing process, should make the Retina display MacBook Air possible. It is said to consume 30% less power than it's predecessor Haswell, and that should be good news for battery life on the portable Macs, especially those with power hungry screens.
The news will disapoint those who have been waiting for updates to Macs for so long. We are sure that Apple is equally frustrated with Intel.
Shipment of Skylake – the successor to Broadwell which will offer even more power than that chip - is also delayed.
Reports in mid June also suggested that Apple's will begin production of a 12-inch MacBook Air in the third quarter. According to DigiTimes, Quanta Computer is set to begin production of the new 12-inch MacBook Air in July. This may have started, if the Intel chips have arrived.
What evidence is there for a smaller MacBook Air with a Retina display?
Rumours about a Retina MacBook Air with a smaller display have been circulating for some time. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested back in October 2013 that Apple will launch a 12-inch MacBook Air in 2014. Kuo suggested that this new MacBook Air would have an entirely new design.
Then back in January 2014, Evercore Partners analyst Patrick Wang predicted that a 12in MacBook/iPad hybrid would launch in the autumn of 2014. It is possible that the rumoured Retina display MacBook Air could be this Mac.
Canalys analyst Daniel Matte also believes Apple will add a Retina display to the MacBook Air this year.
Didn't Apple already introduce the 2014 MacBook Air?
Apple unveiled the latest update to the MacBook Air on 29 April 2014. Quietly updating its MacBook Air line-up with improved Haswell processors from Intel. You can read our review of the 2014 11in MacBook Air and the review of the 13in MacBook Air here.
Aside from the small processor boost and a tiny battery life tweak, the main change for the new MacBook Air models was the price. Each model is now under £1,000, with prices starting at £749, £100 less than the previous models. This helps keep the MacBook Air an attractive option for customers, as the previous price was not much different to the price of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display.
The range update came as some surprise as the Retina display for the MacBook Air rumour was already in circulation. Prior to the MacBook Air update in April, there were suggestions that the new MacBook Air with Retina display could launch at WWDC, but this was obviously not the case.
Why is the Retina Mac delayed?
Following the launch of the new MacBook Air models in April 2014, it's more likely that Apple will wait until later in the year to show off an all-new model, one that many expect to have a Retina display and possibly a smaller form factor.
Another reason for the delay in introducing the new machine may be that Apple wishes the new MacBook Air to feature Intel's new Broadwell chip (the successor to Haswell). The Broadwell processor has been delayed due to manufacturing problems so the new Retina MacBook Air may be delayed even further. As we mention above, Intel has announced that it is finally shipping these chips to its customers.
Intel revealed in their financial results last October that Broadwell was delayed due to a manufacturing defect in the new 14-nm process being used for the Broadwell chip. Due to this Broadwell won't launch until the second half of 2014 - a quarter later than originally planned. Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich now seems more confident about the Broadwell timescale, telling Reuters in May that he expects to be able to deliver in time for the holidays (e.g. Christmas) but not in time for Back to School (e.g. August).
So it looks like we will start to see Broadwell chips appearing in machines from September to early December.
Watch our videos: 5 reasons to buy a MacBook Air & 5 reasons not to buy a MacBook Air. First up... Why buy a MacBook Air:
Will the new MacBook Air have a Retina display?
Will the next MacBook Air feature a Retina display? It is possible, although it could equally be the case that there is no Retina display, with Apple opting to instead keep prices down and offer the new MacBook Air at a lower price.
However, according to some reports the MacBook Air is currently let down by its display, which has a lower resolution than the competition.
Canalys analyst Daniel Matte has written a blog claiming that Apple will add a Retina display to the MacBook Air this year. He expects that we will see a 11.88-inch model with a resolution of 2,732x1,536 pixels, the same 264ppi that the iPad Air offers. He explains the significance of Apple using the same display technology for the MacBook Air and iPad Air, stating: "It turns out that an ~11.88” Retina MacBook Air with a 2732 x 1536 resolution happens to have the exact same pixel density as the 9.7” 2048 x 1536 Retina iPads: ~264 PPI. It would make sense for Apple to take advantage of the same display technology it has been utilizing for the 9.7” iPads by cutting their panels to this larger size."
Rumours also claim that the new MacBook Air Retina display could have a resolution of 2,304 x 1,440 for a rumoured 12in display (discussed below). That's 226 pixels per inch, compared to 227 pixels per inch for the 13in MacBook Pro (which offers 2,560-by-1,600 resolution). This adds up to a 16:10 aspect ratio like that found on the 13in MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, rather than the 16:9 aspect ratio currently offered by the 11in MacBook Air.
The current 11.6-inch MacBook Air offers a 1366 x 768 pixel display.
The rumours of a MacBook Air with Retina display have been long running. Back in February 2013, rumours suggested that Apple was planning to launch a revamped MacBook Air with a Retina display in the third-quarter of 2013. A separate report in March 2013 also claimed that Apple would introduce a Retina display to the MacBook Air in 2013. Since this didn't happen in 2013, it is perhaps likely for 2014.
Wondering what the Retina display fuss is all about? Read: What is a Retina display?
Apple may use the IGZO display technology for the new display – offering improved power efficiency. The reason for the supposition is that Apple was recruiting for a engineers with experience in LED backlighting and LCD displays, in February, according to CultofMac. In an LCD display the bunches of pixels with wires running behind to connect them. The backlight has to shine though this mesh of wires to light up the pixels. In an IGZO display more light is able to shine though this mesh of wires, so the power requirements are lower, and battery life can be preserved. As a result we could see even longer battery life than the 12 hours currently on offer from the 13in MacBook Air.
New MacBook Air rumours - new smaller 12in model
According to a DigiTimes report in June, sources claim Apple wishes to introduce a smaller MacBook Air to make clearer the distinction between the 11-inch MacBook Air and the iPad Air with its 9.7-inch screen.
However, the same sources claim Quanta Computer will be building a rumoured 12-inch iPad later this year.
Canalys analyst Daniel Matte also believes Apple is working on a new version of the MacBook Air - one with a 11.88in screen. Other rumours place the screen size at 12in (which probably matches Matte's expectations).
In his blog Matte seems to be suggesting that there may only be one MacBook Air - this new 12-inch model, with the 13-inch model being phased out in favour of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested back in October 2013 that Apple will launch a 12-inch MacBook Air in 2014. Kuo suggested that this new MacBook Air would have an entirely new design.
The smaller 12in model could still accommodate a reasonable sized screen and keyboard if it had a smaller bezel.
If true, the 12in rumour also means that Apple would only need one Retina panel for the MacBook Air, rather than two.
New Retina MacBook Air release date - will the MacBook Air be an iPad Pro?
There are also rumours that Apple could launch a 12in iPad, but this might not arrive until 2015, or the rumours could relate to the 12in MacBook.
There are also rumours that the new MacBook Air merge with the iPad to create the iPad Pro. You can read more about the iPad Pro rumours here.
We think that a MacBook Air that offered a dual boot system for iOS 7 and Mac OS X would be very interesting, however, Tim Cook last year ruled out any kind of convergence suggesting that a Toaster Refrigerator wouldn't work.
Here's the second of our videos: 5 reasons to buy a MacBook Air & 5 reasons not to buy a MacBook Air. This is Why not to buy a MacBook Air
New Retina MacBook Air rumours - smaller and lighter, changes to trackpad
According to Chinese site, Weiphone, the new MacBook Air will be thinner and lighter, a feat it will achieve by removing the fan (discussed below) and the clicking mechanism in the trackpad.
The new 12in model will drop the trackpad and introduce "force and optical sensors" and new touch gestures, according to this report from BEN Latest News.
New Retina MacBook Air rumours - broadwell processor, fanless design
One way that Apple could make the MacBook smaller is by removing the fan. Apparently the fan assembly is the reason why the MacBook Air is thicker at one end than the other.
Removing the fan assembly would enable Apple to make the laptop thinner than ever, according to reports.
Presumably there will be some sort of cooling system built in, however that my not be necessary. The Intel Haswell processors are said to be efficient enough to make the removal of the fan feasible – indeed there are already laptops on the market that do not feature a fan.
If Apple uses the new Broadwell processor in the MacBook Air, it should enable a fanless design for the smaller (up to 11.6in) laptop or mobile device, notes Motley Fool, based on what Intel said at its developer forum in 2013. It could also offer thermal scaling and thermal management.
The advantage of a fanless design would also be quiet operation. Another benefit of having no fan is that there would be no moving parts (therefore less likely to break), it could also offer higher battery capacity because a bigger battery could be used.
Other features of the Broadwell chip are that it is low power and offers integration with WiDi, 4G WWAN, and WiGig networks.
Will the old non Retina MacBook Air remain?
If Apple launches a 12in MacBook Air, will it discontinue the existing models? It's possible that if Apple launches a 12in Retina MacBook Air model it will discontinue both, or either of the existing models. Equally, Apple could maintain one of the existing models as an entry-level model. It seems more likely that it would keep the 11in model on at an even lower price, rather than keep on the bigger 13in model.
One reason why Apple may keep a lower-priced MacBook Air on is the fact that Apple has just introduced a new entry-level iMac and already the MacBook Air looks superior to that, despite costing less. If Apple wants a low end option, it would appear unlekely that the Retina MacBook Air would be it.
New Retina MacBook Air price
As mentioned above, in 2013 Apple introduced a new lower entry price for the Retina MacBook Pro. With very little difference in price now between the Retina MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air, it looked likely that Apple would soon reduce the price of the MacBook Air.
When it first launched in October 2012, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display started at £1,449. This was reduced to £1,249 a few months later when the range received a processor upgrade. Now, with the April 2014 update to the MacBook Air, the entry-level price of the 13-inch model is a much more compelling £999 which makes the difference between the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and the 13-inch MacBook Air £250 rather than £150.
The MacBook Air pricing now starts at £749 for the 11-inch model, down £100 from last year's model.
In his predictions last year, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that the price of this new 12-inch MacBook Air model could be lower than the current line up of Mac laptops.
Read: Which 13-inch MacBook
The new MacBook Air might not use Intel chips
This rumour has been floating around for some time. It is possible that Apple will ditch the Intel processor in its range of laptop in favour of its own home-made A-series chips, like those found in the iPad and iPhone.
Some have even speculated that the new MacBook Air could mark some sort of crossover between the iPad and the MacBook, perhaps an iPad Pro.
However, rumours that Apple will move from Intel to ARM chips seem unlikely, based on this explaination from Cult of Mac.
The new MacBook Air will be solar powered
Ok, so this is a bit of an out-there rumour, but it really is possible that Apple will one day release a new MacBook Air with a solar powered display.
In January 2013, Apple was granted a patent that described a method for harnessing sunlight to illuminate a MacBook's display. This patent is actually the seventh solar-related patent Apple has gained in the past two years.
New Retina MacBook Air leaked images
At present, there are no new MacBook Air leaked images to share with you, but we will update this story as soon as one surfaces on the web.
So far the only concept images we have seen are these... Perhaps inspired by the Mac Pro, or the Space Grey iPhone 5s, there are calls for a black version of the MacBook Air. TUAW has provided some renders of how such a MacBook Air could look.
Read the latest MacBook Air News, Reviews and Features here
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