Apple’s Rumoured 15-Inch MacBook Air Could Arrive This Spring | Here’s What We Know
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Fans of larger-screened MacBooks may soon have a reason to celebrate as it appears Apple’s plans for a more affordable 15-inch MacBook are on track for a possible spring release.
We first reported on the sporadic rumours of a 15-inch MacBook Air nearly a year ago. At that time, the idea was apparently in its nascent stages within Apple. Our sources suggested that the company hadn’t yet settled on a final design or even decided what name they would give the larger MacBook.
What did seem certain was that Apple was hoping to address the longstanding demand for a consumer-level MacBook with a larger screen. For years, folks who wanted a screen larger than 13 inches were forced to pay a premium for a MacBook Pro — even if they didn’t need the extra features of power of the larger model.
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That’s no small premium, either. While Apple does offer an affordable entry-level MacBook Pro, that model sports virtually the same screen as the 13-inch MacBook Air. The most affordable 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,500 — more than twice the price of a typical MacBook Air configuration.
Sure, the 16-inch MacBook Pro packs in Apple’s considerably more powerful M2 Pro/Max chips, but it’s unfair to suggest that only folks who need that power deserve to have larger screens. It’s clear Apple is starting to realize that, and it made a similar move with last year’s iPhone 14 lineup when it introduced the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus as an option for customers who wanted an expansive screen but didn’t want to pay a premium for the flagship iPhone 14 Pro Max.
The 15-Inch MacBook (Air)?
While our sources last year said Apple wasn’t certain whether Apple would add this fledgling device to its MacBook Air lineup or resurrect the base “MacBook” name for it, more recent reports are hinting that it will indeed bear the name “MacBook Air.” This suggests that it will likely share many of the design traits of the new M2 MacBook Air models that Apple unveiled last year.
This makes sense, as Apple hasn’t had much success with the standalone “MacBook” name, and in Apple’s current product lineups, it would probably be construed as inferior to the MacBook Air. This is the case with the iPad lineup, where the iPad Air is the mid-tier model, and if you think about it, this was always sort of true with Apple’s MacBooks as well.
The MacBook and MacBook Pro names were initially created to herald Apple’s transition from PowerPC chips to Intel silicon. The MacBook Pro replaced the PowerBook G4, and the MacBook was the new iBook. The tiers seemed pretty straightforward, but then Apple threw us a curveball with an ultra-thin executive laptop — the original MacBook Air. As thin laptops became less of a luxury, the MacBook Air became the standard base model, and the MacBook name was quietly retired.
In an ironic twist, Apple attempted to bring the MacBook name back a few years later with an ultra-portable 12-inch MacBook, but that one quickly became an odd duck in Apple’s notebook lineup. It had a niche following for sure, but so did the iPhone 12 mini, and we know what became of that.
Still, rumours abound of a comeback for the 12-inch MacBook. While we can’t rule that out, we haven’t heard much on that front lately, but either way, it seems more likely Apple would save the suffix-less “MacBook” name to distinguish that model from the rest.
What We Know About the 15-Inch MacBook Air
Further, it seems unlikely that the 15-inch MacBook Air will debut on its own, which also supports the idea of it being part of a new and expanded MacBook Air family.
For one thing, the entire MacBook Air lineup is due to get an upgrade to Apple’s next-generation M3 chip this year. A recent report from DigiTimes suggests those are also expected to arrive this spring, which would seemingly be right on schedule for an annual refresh. This lines up with a recent tweet that display industry analyst Ross Young shared with his subscribers earlier today, noting that the larger displays for the new MacBook Air are already in production and on target for an “early April” launch.
However, it’s important to note that while Young has an outstanding track record, his insight is limited to display manufacturing. Just because the larger screens will be ready for early April doesn’t mean Apple may not hold back the new MacBook Air until the rest of the components are lined up.
If all these reports are accurate, it’s reasonable to assume that the 15-inch MacBook Air would also get Apple’s latest M3 chip, as it’s unlikely Apple would slip out an M2-equipped 15-inch model only to refresh the 13-inch models with an M3 a few months later. Apple’s partner TSMC reportedly began mass production of newer 3-nanometer (nm) chips in December, but there’s been no word on when these chips will be ready to go into new Macs.
The M2 MacBook Air was announced in June last year and started shipping in July, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a similar timeline this year, with Apple announcing the lineup around its June Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). However, other than the likelihood of a 15-inch model appearing, we’re not expecting sweeping changes this time around. Apple did a wholesale redesign of the MacBook Air just last year, so it’s likely to stick with that, in which case the 15-inch MacBook Air will mirror that design in the same way as Apple’s 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]