A fresh report is corroborating previous rumors about an entry-level MacBook device with a more affordable price tag than previous Apple notebooks.
The lower-end 13.3-inch MacBook device could retail for about the same, or slightly higher, than the current MacBook Air, according to new research by DigiTimes.
While the price tag will be lower, the MacBook device could sport a screen resolution comparable to a MacBook Pro.
Reportedly, Apple originally sought to cut costs by sourcing display panels from a Chinese-based manufacturer. But issues with that supplier have pushed Apple to get those panels from LG Display. DigiTimes analyst Jim Hsiao said he expects the shipments for the new MacBook device to hit four million units by the end of the year.
The report lines up with several previous rumors about an entry-level MacBook device being released this year, though the exact details are still up in the air.
Well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for example, forecasted that Apple was preparing a “more affordable” MacBook Air device. Kuo also predicted that the device’s lower price tag could help bump overall MacBook shipments by 10 to 15 percent year-over-year.
Before that, DigiTimes’ sources in Apple’s supply chain hinted at a new “entry-level 13-inch” MacBook being added to the Apple lineup in 2018.
Additionally, an Economic Daily News report, first spotted by Japanese site Mac Otakara last week, suggested that a new, lower-cost MacBook device could start at $799 to $899.
Currently, it’s not clear whether Apple plans to brand the entry-level notebook as a MacBook Air, or as a new MacBook. DigiTimes continues to call the rumored laptop a “MacBook,” while Kuo and KGI Securities calls it a successor to the MacBook Air lineup.
The device will be the same either way, but Apple’s decision here could spell the end of the MacBook Air as a notebook lineup.
Additionally, the device’s price tag isn’t set in stone. DigiTimes’ analysis suggests that the device could retail for the same price as — or higher than — the current MacBook Air, which starts at $999.
Kuo, on the other hand, says that the device could be a “more affordable” MacBook Air. That suggests a sub-$1,000 price range to start, though it’s worth noting that Kuo never mentioned an exact price point in his forecast. In spite of that, keeping the device at a $999 starting point wouldn’t exactly translate to a “lower-cost” notebook.
Additionally, the Economic Daily News and Mac Otakara both suggested a $799 to $899 starting point for the base model.
Apple typically unveils new products in its Mac and MacBook lineup at its Worldwide Developers Conference.
That event usually takes place in June, which could suggest a June 2018 unveiling date for this year’s entry-level MacBook device.