We were impressed with the 1.1GHz MacBook Air Apple introduced in March 2020, and then Apple blew that out of the water with the M1 MacBook Air in November 2020. But November 2020 is now more than a year ago so thoughts are turning to the next MacBook Air, what we can expect and when it will arrive.

The good news is that apparently there is a new look MacBook Air in the works and Apple is planing a colourful redesign to boot. The bad news is we may still have a long wait until it launches.

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". This new MacBook Air will apparently no longer have the tapered design it is famous for. In fact, it may not even be called the MacBook Air, Apple could bring back the MacBook.

Plus a leak from Jon Prosser suggests that this new Mac laptop will come in a variety of colours - just like the 24in iMac. Prosser got some images mocked up of what that might look like - and six months after these images first appeared he has had them updated to incorporate the notch and MagSafe ports seen on the 2021 14in MacBook Pro. We have more on the new design for the MacBook Air below.

With the new 14in and 16in MacBook Pro models launching in October 2021 there is a lot of interest in whether or not the MacBook Air will also feature a notch. It seems likely as we discuss below.

In this article we'll investigate what's in store for the new MacBook Air, we'll evaluate when in 2022 a new MacBook Air will launch, 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. We also have a round up of rumours about the 2022 MacBook Pro.

Release date

There had been suggestions early in 2021 that we could see a new MacBook Air in 2021. Back in January 2021 Mark Gurman wrote in Bloomberg that the new MacBook Air could arrive in the second half of 2021, but he allowed that the launch could be pushed back to 2022.

Similarly, Jon Prosser's source had indicated that the new MacBook Air could arrive at the end of 2021 at the absolute earliest.

However, with the global chip shortages that have been affecting Apple and other manufacturers, and world-wide manufacturing and shipping delays due to COVID-19, it any plans Apple might have had to launch a new MacBook Air in 2021 were scuppered.

Twitter account Dylandkt wrote in July 2021 that he believed that a new MacBook Air with M2 chip will arrive in the first half of 2022.

However, even the summer of 2022 is now looking unlikely due to the industry wide issues. The new MacBook Air may not arrive until much later in 2022.

Indeed, by January 2022 Dylan had changed his prediction to the second half of 2022:

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had been saying for some time that Apple will launch a new, more "affordable" ‌MacBook Air‌ in 2022. He reiterated this 2022 launch prediction in a note to investors back in March 2021. At that time he suggested that Apple will launch a new model of MacBook Air with mini-LED in 2022 and that it would be the first entry-level Mac to feature mini-LED display technology.

Kuo, like other pundits, no longer thinks the new Air will arrive in the first half of 2022. In September 2021 Kuo said he expects Apple to start mass production of the redesigned MacBook Air in the late second or early third quarter of 2022. Read: Redesigned MacBook Air to begin production next summer.

We had thought that a March 2022 launch would be likely because it would correspond to the early-2020 MacBook Air update. However, if Kuo is correct, and production isn't likely to begin until the summer, we could be waiting until October 2022 for the M2 MacBook Air.

Luckily the current model is still an excellent purchase. 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.

Price

According to the Bloomberg report mentioned above, this new laptop will be positioned as a higher-end version of the current MacBook Air with the current models remaining on sale. In fact, rather than being a MacBook Air, this new model could just be known as a MacBook.

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 £849/$899 while the new model, with its new design, comes in at £1,349/$1,399.

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.

MacBook Air or MacBook?

This new colourful MacBook variant could be a replacement for the 13in MacBook Pro as well as a successor to the MacBook Air.

The range is a little complicated currently, with two MacBook Air, two 13in MacBook Pro and then the two 14in MacBook Pro and three 16in MacBook Pro. The 13in MacBook Pro are great, but should they be classed with the 14in and 16in Models that are truly pro machines.

Perhaps it is time for Apple to revive the singular MacBook name and launch a model that sits in the middle. Or maybe the MacBook Air, which launched in 2008, will be no more and the MacBook, discontinued in 2019 will return.

Design

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 new MacBook Air in a variety of colours, and with an all new design is coming. Read: A colourful MacBook launch is coming.

Back in May 2021 Prosser had RendersbyIan (Ian Zelbo) create images based on the information his source provided about the new MacBook Air. He claimed that they had quite a lot of information to work with.

In October 2021 Prosser and Zelbo returned to those render to add two new features based on the launch of the 2021 MacBook Pro and "recent reports", as he put it in the FrontPageTech report.

There's now an image showing a notch, see: What a MacBook Air could look like with a notch.

MacBook Air with Notch

If there is a notch at the top of the screen to accommodate the webcam, and the frame is white, then we can expect the notch to be white too. Unfortunately, this won't blend into the screen as well as the black notch does.

Prosser and Zelbo have also creted an image showing the MagSafe port: 

MagSafe on MacBook Air

The original May 2021 renders were based on information Prosser was able to obtain at that time, for example 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 indicated there are two.

New MacBook Air blue

As for colours, Prosser claimed 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.

MacBook Air colours

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. Both analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman expect the company to launch colourful MacBook Air models in 2022.

In an August 2021 note to investors Kuo claims that Apple plans to give customers more colour choices with the new MacBook Air. More here: Redesigned, colourful MacBook Air on way, says analyst.

New size

In a Bloomberg article from January 2021 Mark Gurman 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, which isn't much smaller than the current dimensions.

According to the Bloomberg report mentioned above, Apple actually considered making a 15in version of the MacBook Air, but scrapped that idea.

The other dimension that could change is how narrow the MacBook Air is. There are rumours that the classic wedge shape will be eliminated in favour of adding more ports, although it's unlikely we'll gain HDMI or a built-in card reader.

Notch or not

We've already shared Prosser's renders of what the MacBook Air will look like with a notch above, but will the MacBook Air really have a notch like the 2021 MacBook Pro does?

Apple could make the screen bigger without adjusting the size of the MacBook Air by incorporating a notch, as it has with the MacBook Pro. But does Apple need to increase the screen size, or reduce the overall size of the MacBook Air? We don't think it really does.

But, now that we have a notch - well really the camera housing - overlapping the screen of the MacBook Pro, it certainly looks like the next version of the Air will gain a notch to the top of its screen.

The inclusion of the notch has been surmised by Chinese leaker Ty98 who, according to a Macrumors report in October 2021, believes that the new ‌MacBook Air‌ will incorporate the notch seen on the MacBook Pro. Read: More evidence for MacBook Air redesign.

MacBook Air with notch

For those complaining about the notch on the MacBook Pro, Apple's Shruti Haldea (Product Line Manager, Pro Mac) has this to say: the notch is a "really smart way to give you more space for your content" because the menu bar has moved up into new space on either side of the notch while the rest of the screen has the same 16:10 aspect ratio as before.

"What we've done is we've actually made the display taller," she points out. More here: Apple exec defends MacBook Pro's screen notch.

Webcam

We also hope that Apple adds a better webcam. The current 720p FaceTime camera is terrible, we'd hope for a HD (1080p) webcam as seen in the iMac and the 2021 MacBook Pro models. To be honest if Apple doesn't do this it would be a travesty! 

Even better if it also offers Face ID. Read about Face ID on the Mac?

Screen

It is likely that we will see the same kind of mini-LED screen found in the new MacBook Pro models in the MacBook Air in 2022.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the first MacBook Air with a mini-LED screen will launch in the middle of 2022. He outlined his expectations for this in notes to investors in August and July 2021.

Mini-LED is a screen backlighting tech that provides better colour reproduction, blacker blacks, higher contrast and greater dynamic range. The technology is already used for the iPad Pro and is expected to come to the MacBook Pro in 2021.

Apple is expected to move much of its Mac (and iPad) range to mini-LED displays, although there have been delays due to supply constraints. 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?

Specs

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 upcoming 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.

M2 Processor & Graphics

As mentioned above, Twitter account Dylandkt believes that the new MacBook Air will feature an M2 chip. Other Apple pundits expect the same.

The new chip (apparently it's codenamed Staten) is thought to have the same number of processor cores as its predecessor, the M1, but will feature more graphics cores: there are suggestions that there could be up to 10 such cores instead of 8 graphics cores. We can expect some leaps in performance for the M2 compared to the M1. 

Dylandkt indicated that the new MacBook Air will not feature the M1X (which we now know to be called the M1 Pro and M1 Max) will be reserved for pro devices.

The graphics prowess of the M1 Pro and M1 Max would certainly be overkill for a consumer focused Mac laptop like the MacBook Air. While the M1 Pro and M1 Max have excellent energy management they would definitely be unsuitable for a Mac that lacks fans, as the MacBook Air does.

Read about the M1 Pro and M1 Max.

RAM

The memory is thought to be likely to remain at a maximum of 16GB. This is because an adaptation of the powerful chips of the MacBook Pro that support more RAM will not be possible due to the excessive power consumption and the fact that the MacBook Air lacks a fan.

Ports

Should Apple abandon the classic tapered 'wedge' shape in favour of a new uniform shape for the Air it could mean there's room for more ports. However, it doesn't mean that the Air will be thicker than it is currently: The housing itself could become thinner: renders have shown how a MacBook Air could look if it was just thick enough to feature a normal 3.5 mm jack for headphones

The MagSafe charging port has made a return to the MacBook Pro, so it may also return to the MacBook Air. However, not all MacBook Pro owners have been happy with MagSafe 3. Some have complained that the magnetic connection is too strong and doesn't detach as easily as the previous generation did. It seems that MagSafe is no longer going to stop your Mac laptop crashing to the floor if someone trips on the cable.

It is unlikely that we will see the return of the SD card slot, although the addition of an HDMI port would allow users to plug in more screens than is currently possible with the MacBook Air. Read: How to connect two or more external displays to M1 Macs.