Apple updated the MacBook Air in 2019, but the only change that came with that update was a slight improvement to the screen (the addition of True Tone) and a price drop. Therefore we are looking forward to the 2020 version of the MacBook Air, which will hopefully address issues with the keyboard, among other things.
Find out what will happen to the MacBook Air in 2020. In this article, we round up all the rumours, hints and clues about the 2020 MacBook Air, including price, tech specs, new features and design.
Now that Apple has launched a new 16in MacBook Pro with a completely redesigned keyboard - addressing issues with the butterfly-mechanism found in the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air - it seems likely that we can expect a similar keyboard improvement for the MacBook Air. But when?
MacBook Air 2020: Release date
Apple updated the MacBook Air in July 2019 in time to catch the back-to-school shopping period. However, as we said, that was a minor update - the addition of True Tone and a price reduction along with the removal of the older-style MacBook Air.
There were some rumours that Apple would address the keyboard issues with the MacBook Air by launching a new model with an updated keyboard in October 2019. We thought that was unlikely so soon after the update in July and weren't surprised that only the 16in MacBook Pro gained the new keyboard that month.
However an update does look likely for 2020. DigiTimes has reported that a new 13in MacBook Pro is coming in the first half of 2020 and the MacBook Air update is likely to hit around the same time.
Analyst Ming Chi Kuo on the other hand has suggested a second half of 2020 launch for a new MacBook Air.
On this basis we could see a new MacBook Air in the spring, perhaps coinciding with a Spring Event (read about the Next Apple Event here), but a WWDC launch seems more likely.
Alternatively, the company could just update the Mac laptops and issue a press release as it did in July 2019.
MacBook Air 2020: Price
In July 2019 Apple discontinued the older MacBook Air, as we predicted it would. When it did so it reduced the price of what was the £1,199 model to £1,099.
It's unlikely that we will see the price decline any further.
It's not the cheapest MacBook Air Apple's ever sold though: in 2015 the entry-level 13in model cost £849 and the price has been even lower than that - before the 11in MacBook Air was axed in October 2016, you could get one for £749.
2020 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 significant design changes in 2020.
That's not stopped calls for Apple to reduce the bezels and increase the screen size further. But this seems more likely for the 13in MacBook Pro (14in MacBook Pro anyone?)
Will Apple ever release a new 11in MacBook Air? We doubt it. The problem with making a smaller MacBook Air would be the size of the keyboard - there is an optimum keyboard size and a smaller laptop would be less comfortable to type on. Read more about the future of the MacBook here.
2020 MacBook Air: Specs
If the MacBook Air is to get an update in 2020, what can we expect?
This is the one thing we can be sure of. The new MacBook Air will gain a new keyboard. This new scissor-switch design (based on past Mac laptops and the Magic Keyboard that ships with the iMac) will replace the butterfly mechanism design used for Apple laptop keyboards since around 2016.
The butterfly mechanism enabled Apple to make the keyboard (and therefore Mac) slimmer but it seems that the design caused problems with dust getting trapped under keys and requiring expensive repairs. Read all about those MacBook keyboard problems here.
Apple has admitted to the issue and offered free repairs to those affected, but the well-publicised keyboard-related problems will no doubt have prevented some sales of Mac laptops. This is something Apple is likely to want to rectify.
Apple has already started the ball rolling with the introduction of the 16in MacBook Pro in November 2019. The new MacBook Pro features a scissor switch style keyboard which Apple has dubbed the 'Magic Keyboard'. The Magic Keyboard will hopefully magically do away with the issues of the previous keyboard and hopefully it will be making its way to the MacBook Air very soon.
Frankly, as our reviewer of the 16in MacBook Pro put it: "The butterfly keyboard was introduced because the company became obsessed with making its laptops thinner and thinner, but it got to a point where usability was sacrificed to achieve those goals." We think Apple needs to right this wrong quickly!
The 2018 and 2019 MacBook Air models both feature Intel’s 8th Generation dual-core Coffee Lake CPU.
While Apple is still using 8th generation chips many of its competitors (Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenavo, HP and so on) have already introduced 10th Ice Lake generation processors. Get a move on Apple!
The other letdown with the MacBook Air is that it features a dual-core processor when many other laptops (and all other Mac laptops) feature quad-core or better processors.
But does the MacBook Air need a faster processor with more cores? Perhaps the user base doesn't need any more than the current set of Amber Lake chips to meet their needs. On the other hand, Apple owes it to its customers to future proof these machines and a more powerful Mac will stay relevant for longer.
The current MacBook Air features the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 617.
New Iris Plus integrated graphics will ship with the 10th generation Intel chips.
As with the processor there was no obvious change to the storage inside the 2019 MacBook Air compared to the 2018 model. However, Apple did reduce the price of the build-to-order 1TB SSD option to £400/$400. Previously it only offered a 1.5TB SSD which cost an additional +£1,000/$1,000.
The 2018/2019 Air also offers up to 16GB RAM, which is twice as much as the previous generation did. It still ships with 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory as standard. It's unlikely that this will change in the near future.
Some reports are suggesting that Apple may be creating its own processors to power its MacBooks. The reports are suggesting those processors could appear in 2020.
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 suggested 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. We have more information about this new transitional Mac here.
Speaking of this new Apple chip - one feature it is said to include is LTE connectivity.
Digital Trends suggested, back in April 2018, that a new 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 2018/2019 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.
Are we likely to see the rest of the Touch Bar, as seen on the MacBook Pro arrive on the MacBook Air? Probably not.
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. Perhaps a future Mac could replace the Touch Bar functionality with on-screen controls, which we feel might be more intuitive. Incidentally, when Catalina launches it will bring a new feature that allows users to connect their iPad to their Mac and use it as an additional screen with Touch Bar functionality.
Read about the changes that could come to the Mac mini in 2019/2020 here.