We were impressed with the MacBook Air Apple introduced in March 2020, and then Apple blew that out of the water with the M1 MacBook Air in November 2020. With two MacBook Air launches in 2020 you'd be forgiven in thinking that there would be no big MacBook Air news on the horizon, but apparently there is a new 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".
Plus a leak from Jon Prosser suggests that there are plans to release the new MacBook Air in a variety of colours - just like the 24in iMac. Prosser has managed to get some images mocked up of what that might look like. More on that below.
In this article we'll investigate what's in store for the new MacBook Air, we'll evaluate whether a new MacBook Air will launch in 2021, and we'll take a look at the anticipated features and improvements.
It's worth noting that these rumours could point to a new MacBook Air or the reincarnation of the MacBook. Prosser notes that the information he has received from his source suggests that this is not a MacBook Pro.
As per Gurman's Bloomberg report from January 2021 the new MacBook Air could arrive in the second half of 2021, but the launch could be pushed back to 2022.
Similarly, Jon Prosser's source has indicated that the new MacBook Air could arrive at the end of 2021 at the absolute earliest. However, a 2022 launch seems more likely.
TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicts that a new, more "affordable" MacBook Air will launch in 2022.
Kuo reiterated his 2022 prediction in a note to investors published in March 2021. Then hs suggested that Apple will launch a new model of MacBook Air with mini-LED in 2022 - this will be the first entry-level Mac to feature mini-LED display technology, according to the analyst.
We certainly wouldn't expect to see a new MacBook Air before October 2021, October being the month when Apple tends to present new consumer-focused Macs. Alternatively a March 2022 launch would correspond to the early-2020 MacBook Air update. Indeed, Apple is said to be affected by component shortages which could see the next round of MacBooks delayed. Global chip shortages mean Apple's iPad and MacBook delayed.
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 Bloomberg report this new laptop will be positioned as a higher-end version of the current MacBook Air with the current models remaining on sale.
The current MacBook Air is priced as follows.
- M1 MacBook Air, 8-Core CPU, 7-Core GPU, 256GB SSD £999/$999
- M1 MacBook Air, 8-Core CPU, 8-Core GPU, 512GB SSD £1,249/$1,249
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 £899/$899 while the new model, with its new design, comes in at £1,349/$1,349.
The lower starting price complements Kuo's suggestion that the MacBook Air will see a price drop. It's just not clear if the price drop will be on an older model, rather than an update.
Jon Prosser's source - who just happens to be the same person who revealed that Apple was going to launch iMacs in different colours - has indicated that a colourful MacBook launch is coming.
Prosser tweeted the claim on 7 May 2021:
Prosser then had RendersbyIan create images based on the information his source provided about the new MacBook Air. While they don't know everything about the design of the new Mac laptop, they did have quite a lot of information to work with.
Prosser is able to confirm that the bezels and keys on the keyboard are white, for example.
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 indicates there are two.
As for colours, Prosser claims 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.
It's not only Prosser who has information about the new MacBook Air. Mark Gurman in a Bloomberg article describes how the upcoming MacBook Air will be thinner and lighter while maintaining the current 13in screen size. In order to achieve this Apple will reduce the size of the bezels around the screen.
Right now the dimensions of the MacBook Air are 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 centimetre from the over all dimensions. So we could be looking at around 29.5cm x 20cm.
There's once thing that could stop the laptop getting any smaller. The optimum keyboard size. Apple's Magic Keyboard is 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.
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 30cm x 19.2cm.
According to the Bloomberg report mentioned above, Apple actually considered making a 15in version of the MacBook Air, but scrapped that idea.
The screen may continue to be 13in, but the tech behind it is set to change. Apple is apparently planning to move much of its Mac (and iPad) range to mini-LED displays, although there have been delays due to supply constraints. However, the wait may be nearly over as supplier TSMT is said to have increased yields. More here: Mini-LED MacBook back on the cards for 2021.
Mini-LED displays bring the following improvements:
- Deeper and darker blacks
- Brighter, richer colours
- Better contrast
- 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 you can run iOS apps on the Mac. Will there ever be a touch screen 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 2021 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.
Apple is likely to update the M1 Chip inside, perhaps the rumoured M1X will find its way into the new MacBook Air.
Alternatively, if we are waiting until 2022 we might see the M2 inside. Assuming of course that's how Apple ends up naming the generations of Apple Silicon.
That Bloomberg report we mentioned able suggests that the MagSafe charging port may be returning to the Mac, so we may well see that return to the MacBook Air.
We also sincerely hope that Apple adds a better webcam. The current 720p FaceTime camera is terrible, we'd hope for a HD (1080p) webcam. Even better if it also offers Face ID. Read about Face ID on the Mac?