The MacBook Air celebrated its tenth birthday at the start of 2018 and Apple surprised us all by redesigning and updating the popular MacBook Air in October, making it even more thin and light than before.
But what awaits the MacBook Air in 2019? Having waited more than three years before updating the Air in 2018 (Apple made minor updates in 2017 and 2016 but the processor was the same as the 2015 model) will Apple just leave the Air untouched for another three or more years? Or is the Air too popular for Apple to neglect it again.
In this article, we round up all the rumours, hints and clues about the MacBook Air for 2019, including price, tech specs, new features and design.
MacBook Air 2019: Release date
We wouldn't expect Apple to update the MacBook Air before October 2019. It would be very unusual for the company to update something within a year. The only reason it might update sooner than October would be to catch the back-to-school shopping period, but we aren't convinced it will do so.
However, Apple could update the MacBook Air in October 2019, just in time for the Christmas shopping period.
MacBook Air 2019: Price
We could see Apple discontinue the older MacBook Air though, and if it does, could it reduce the price of the £1,199 model. Unlikely, it's Apple we are talking about, but certain to be on fan's wishlists and the idea is not without foundation.
The rumours about the new MacBookAir in 2018 were predicting that it would cost less than $1,000. It turned out that the new MacBook Air in 2018 started at £1,199 with the older Air maintaining its £949/$1,000 price, but Apple has faced criticism for continuing to sell the old MacBook Air at such a high price, especially when you consider what the Air cost at launch: in 2015 the entry-level 13in model cost £849. The price has been even lower than that - before the 11in MacBook Air was axed in October 2016, you could get an 11in MacBook Air for £749. However, it is unlikely we will ever see a new MacBook with a price as low as that.
Ming-Chi Kuo was the first to predict that Apple was going to update the MacBook Air and reduce the price. He claimed that by introducing a new model of the MacBook Air, at a lower price, Apple would be able to push MacBook shipments up by 10-15 per cent in 2018.
Chromebooks account for 60 percent of devices shipping to education, according to Futuresource Consulting. Back in 2018, Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross thought that an update to the MacBook Air was necessary for Apple to figure in this competitive market.
She said: "HP and Lenovo have released products priced similarly to the MacBook Air, gaining share, and in order to remain competitive in that price point, we think a form-factor change is necessary. It should help them rebound some of their Mac sales as things have been getting a bit long on the tooth in terms of their Mac line as they've clearly been very focused on the iPhone and services businesses," as per this Bloomberg report.
Of course Apple did update the Air, but with a higher starting price than before (for the new model), will Apple be able to master the education market? Probably not.
Find out how the MacBook Air and MacBook comare: MacBook vs MacBook Air.
2019 MacBook Air: Design
Since the MacBook Air was redesigned in 2018 - with slimmer bezels, thinner profile, and new colours, it's unlikely that it will see any further changes in 2018.
Will Apple ever release a new 11in MacBook Air? We doubt it. The 12in MacBook could reduce in size further though... Read more about the new MacBook for 2019 here. Plus our review of the 2018 MacBook Air is here.
Speaking of design changes, a patent discovered by Patently Apple seems to indicate that Apple has found a way to build a MacBook chassis from a single piece of material that bends in the middle thanks to a "flexible portion" which it refers to as a "living hinge".
In the patent application, Apple describes how: "An enclosure for a laptop may be created from a rigid material having a flexible portion defined around approximately a midpoint of the material. The flexible portion may allow the rigid material to be folded in half and thus acts as a laptop clamshell."
It explains that: "A top portion may support a display screen and a bottom portion may support a keyboard, trackpad, and the like, while an interior defined by sidewalls of the rigid material may house a variety of electronic components in accordance with conventional laptop computing devices. In this manner, the enclosure (or a portion thereof) may be created from a single rigid material, while still providing flexibility and bending for the enclosure."
Could we see this in 2019? Probably not.
2019 MacBook Air: Specs
If the MacBook Air is to get an update in 2019, what can we expect?
The current line up is as follows:
MacBook Air, 13in, 1.8GHz, 128GB: £1,199
MacBook Air, 13in, 1.8GHz, 256GB: £1,399
The 2018 model uses Intel’s 8th Generation dual-core Coffee Lake CPU and the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 617. The 2018 Air offers up to 16GB RAM, which is twice as much as the last generation. And you can get a 1.5TB SSD.
It has a 13.3in screen, but with four times more pixels than the older model. That's a 2560x1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch - a Retina display.
The 2018 version of the MacBook Air measures 0.41-1.56cm x 30.41cm x 21.24cm. It has a similar wedge design to the original model. And it’s 10 percent thinner than its predecessor.
We don't expect those specs to change much if Apple updates the MacBook Air again in 2019, other than the introduction of a new processor and integrated graphics card. Speaking of processors...
Some reports are suggesting that Apple may be creating its own processors to power its MacBooks. However, the reports are suggesting those processors won't appear until 2020, certainly not as soon as 2019.
Bloomberg reported in January 2018 that Apple is developing more of its own co-processors (like the T2 chip in the iMac Pro and the 2018 MacBook Pro and now Air) for use in its desktop and laptop computers.
According to 9to5Mac, who spoke to supply chain sources in May 2018 about a new processor that is being built on behalf of Apple by Pegatron (who manufactures other Apple iOS devices), an Apple-made processor could feature in the "First ARM-based Mac, with a ship date as soon as 2020."
That site claims: "We do know that it has a touchscreen, a sim card slot, GPS, compass, is water resistant and it also runs EFI."
While the inclusion of a touchscreen, SIM card slot and water resistance might suggest an iPhone or iPad, 9to5Mac believes that it could be a Mac. That site points out that EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) is the boot system used by Macs.
9to5Mac suggests this new chip will be used for a brand-new device family that it will run a derivative of iOS.
Could this new device be a new 13in MacBook Air? Possibly - but we probably won't see it until 2020.
Speaking of this new Apple chip - one feature it is said to include is LTE connectivity. Will we have to wait until 2020 before Macs ship with such capabilities?
Digital Trends suggested, in April 2018, that a new 2018 Mac could have built-in LTE connectivity.
This would place them in direct competition with the new 'always connected' Windows 10 PCs, which are laptops with built-in cellular connections.
One such machine is the HP Envy x2. That laptop uses Snapdragon 835's X16 LTE modem so that it can keep users connected all the time.
The 2018 MacBook Air offers Touch ID, with a fingerprint sensor built into the keyboard. This is useful for security (unlocking the MacBook Air) and for making Apple Pay payments.
Unlike other Touch ID equipped Macs, there is no Touch Bar on the 2018 Air though. Apple says that the Touch Bar is aimed at professional users and hence has no place on the Air. But we believe it isn't a particularly popular feature, and it lacks useful functionality, so it either needs to appear on more devices to encourage more developers to adopt it, or Apple needs to give up on it - or perhaps replace the functionality with onscreen controls, which we feel might be more intuitive.
Wondering which MacBook is best for you? Read our MacBook buying guide.
You might also like to read our Apple rumours and predictions for 2019.