For months now, we’ve been tracking a series of credible reports about Apple’s plan to unveil a new version of its entry-level laptop before the end of the year. Sources suggest that this will not be yet another incremental spec bump but a total makeover that includes a high-quality Retina display, USB-C ports and modern Apple hallmarks like Face ID.
For now, the $999 MacBook Air remains more or less the same device Apple introduced in fall of 2010. The current model, released in August 2017, is nearly identical to its 2015 predecessor save for a microboost in the speed of its antiquated Intel CPU and a belated doubling of RAM. A major makeover is long overdue.
We’re collecting all the rumors circulating about the new machine here. This roundup will continue to be updated on an ongoing basis, so check back often to see breaking news and details about the 2018 MacBook Air.
Rumor: A new MacBook Air coming Oct. 30
The date is now official: Apple has sent invitations for a ‘special event’ on Oct. 30 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. According to Apple’s website, the event will be streamed live.
There have been persistent rumors about an imminent MacBook Air announcement during the past year and the timing of the upcoming event could be just right. Apple has often debuted new Macs in October — and the event may also include a new or updated iMac and/or Mac Mini, too. (The company is reportedly also working on a refresh of the Mac Pro but won’t release it until sometime in 2019.)
Rumor: Support for Touch ID
Amid a slew of predictions published by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (as reported by MacRumors), one is that the new ‘lower-priced’ MacBook will have Touch ID — the fingerprint authentication system that first debuted on the iPhone 5S in 2013. Touch ID first migrated to the higher-end MacBook Pro lineup in 2016 and is featured on the new Pro models that debuted in June.
Rumor: A 12-inch model?
One of Kuo’s reports has muddied the water about the size of the forthcoming MacBook. Though his wording is ambiguous, he seems to suggest that Apple may actually replace the current 12-inch MacBook with a new model. This conflicts with previous reports — including a DigiTimes article describing Apple’s plans to debut a new 13-inch model during the first half of 2018 and Bloomberg’s recent report describing a low-cost device that would ‘remain about 13 inches.’
Rumor: Retina display, finally
Bloomberg has reported that Apple plans to update that ‘low-cost’ MacBook with a high-resolution Retina screen. This bolsters an earlier reporting by DigiTimes that describes a new MacBook with a ‘slim design’ and a Retina display in addition to a more contemporary Intel CPU. The newest Bloomberg information also suggests that the new model will have slimmer bezels. It’s hard to imagine Apple unveiling a new MacBook Air equivalent that doesn’t have all of this, at the minimum.
Price: $1,000 — or less?
Bloomberg reported in March that a ‘new, cheaper MacBook laptop is in the works and likely destined to replace the MacBook Air at a price less than $1,000.’ Likewise, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the 2018 model will be even ‘more affordable’ than the current MacBook Air. More recently, however, DigiTimes reported that Apple has developed a new ‘entry-level’ MacBook that will run a new Intel CPU and will cost $1,200.
The current entry-level MacBook Air, with 128GB of hard-drive capacity, starts at $999, £949 or AU$1,499. The 256GB version costs $1,199. Third-party retailers now routinely discount the Air to $750 or $800, and its low price is key to its popularity.