New MacBook Air release date, specs and rumours: 11in MacBook Air to be … – Macworld UK

Earlier in 2015, we were convinced that Apple would be updating its MacBook Air to give it a Retina display like the one found in the Retina MacBook Pro models. Apple did indeed update its MacBook Air in March 2015, but it didn’t get the Retina display. Instead, Apple launched a brand-new MacBook line that’s super-thin, super-light and does offer that high-resolution display. But does that mean Apple won’t enhance the MacBook Air with a Retina display in the future? We investigate in our 2016 MacBook Air release date, specs & features rumour round-up.

The latest  rumours suggest that new 13in and 15in MacBook Air models are in the pipeline for spring or summer 2016, with the 11in MacBook Air being discontinued, read on for more information.

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2016 MacBook Air: release date rumours

We had originally expected a new MacBook Air with Retina display to launch on 9 March 2015 at Apple’s Spring Forward event. Instead a new Retina MacBook launched with a 12in display, introducing (or resurrecting) a new line for Apple’s MacBook range. At the time Apple’s MacBook Air also got an update, with new, faster processors, faster flash storage and better graphics, but the screen and overall design remained the same.

That left us wondering what Apple’s plans are for the future of its MacBook line-up. It’s quite possible that it intends to replace the MacBook Air with the new MacBook eventually, but it’s equally possible that the MacBook Air will remain part of the line-up for some time yet, and could still get an upgrade to the Retina display when it is refreshed next year.

If Apple does give the MacBook Air a Retina refresh, then it’s likely we’ll see the new 11in and 13in laptops in the spring of 2016. New MacBook Air models arrived in April of 2014, and in March of 2015.

In late November 2015, a report from the Economic Daily News suggests that the MacBook Air will see a significant update in 2016. However, the report suggest that the update to the MacBook Air may not arrive until WWDC in June, which will be more than a year after Apple last updated the MacBook Air. According to the report, the new MacBook Air models are expected to come out in the third quarter of next year, which suggests that there may be a wait after the June unveiling.

The Economic Daily News report notes that it’s been eight years since the MacBook Air launched and it’s not been redesigned in that time, suggesting that time is ripe for a makeover.

Some reports in mid 2015 suggested that the new MacBook Air could arrive as early as December, alongside a new MacBook Pro, but we’re taking that rumour with a pinch of salt.

2016 MacBook Air: Price

The last time that there was a Mac laptop that had more advanced specs than a more expensive model was the old MacBooks (aluminium, then white and black, and then eventually aluminum again). These older MacBook models were eventually discontinued and the price of the MacBook Air was reduced to make it the new entry level (when the MacBook Air initially launched it was quite overpriced for the specs, just like the current Retina MacBook).

It seems likely that the same will happen with the new MacBook models eventually replacing the MacBook Airs, at a lower price, but for now that seems a long way off.

The Economic Daily News report suggests the new MacBook Air will cost more than it does currently when it does launch. The 11in MacBook Air starts at £749, while the entry level 13in model costs £849.

If the 11in MacBook Air is removed from the line up perhaps the cost of entry of the 13in model will reduce to the level that the 11in model is currently, with a rumoured 15in model coming in at a higher price.

2016 MacBook Air: dimensions 

As mentioned above, rumours suggest that the 11in MacBook Air will be discontinued, after all, the 11in MacBook Air is both smaller than the MacBook and the new iPad Pro.

However, 9to5 Mac points out, the new 13in and 15in MacBook Air models could be additional sizes to the MacBook range. That site predicts that some time in 2016/2017 we will have just two ranges of Mac laptops: the MacBook at the ultraportable level, and the more advanced MacBook Pro. Maybe the 17in MacBook Pro will make a comeback too, with a 4K display.

MacBook Air: specs & features rumours

These new MacBook Air models are said to be thinner and lighter, with internal spec enhancements. Apparently, the new MacBook Air will feature new batteries, cooling modules, and chassis, according to the Economic Daily News.

We also expect to see USB Type-C across the range, especially now that Intel has integrated Thunderbolt 3 into USB-C.

The next-generation MacBook Air is also likely to feature Intel Skylake processors, as well as graphics and RAM upgrades.

2016 MacBook Air: Retina display

The suggestion that the MacBook Air will feature a Retina display has been long running but those rumours were prior to the launch of the 12in Retina MacBook and the iPad Pro – suggesting the signtings of the Retina display some thought was destined for the MacBook Air was instead for these models.

Does this mean that there will be no Retina display on the new MacBook Air when (or if) it launches. If Apple wants to keep the price down maybe not. Or perhaps the newly rumoured 15in Macbook Air will feature a Retina display, while the 13in model will lack the high res display, but come in at a lower price, one similar to the current price of the 11in MacBook Air.

2016 MacBook Air: Touch ID and Force Touch

There are also reports to suggest that it’ll boast Touch ID within its Trackpad, which may also get the Force Touch upgrade that was given to the 13in MacBook Pro on 9 March, and comes with the new MacBook.

Touch ID is the fingerprint sensor that’s built-in to the Home button of the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. It’s also used to make Apple Pay more secure.

According to an Independent report, Touch ID for the Mac line would require a dedicated chip to be built in to the device.

The rumour started with Taiwanese blog AppleCorner, which cited sources in the supply chain. Apparently the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad may get a biometric update too, enabling users to make Apple Pay payments on the web, but both those accessories were updated alongside the launch of a new 4K iMac so that seems unlikely to happen any time soon. 

Will the MacBook Air be discontinued?

With the advent of the 12in MacBook and the new 12.9in iPad Pro the rumoured discontinuation of the 11in MacBook Air is no real surprise, given that its screen is smaller than both of these devices. The iPad Pro may indeed be viewed by Apple as a replacement for the 11in MacBook Air if Apple CEO Tim Cook’s comments to the Telegraph are taken into account (published on 1 December 2015). 

Following the launch of the iPad Pro, Cook told the Telegraph: “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?”

“Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones,” he added.

However, should Apple discontinue the 11in MacBook Air, it does remove the lower price of entry from the line up.

It may not just be the 11in MacBook Air that is discontinued. When the new MacBook launched on 9 March 2015, analysts began to suspect that the MacBook Air might not be around for much longer. “This wasn’t the MacBook Air, but instead leaped past the Air,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. “They kept the MacBook Air around just as they do with older iPhones, but the MacBook is now in the same position as the newest iPhone. That makes me wonder if the Air will go away over time.”

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of US business for Kantar WorldPanel Comtech, also predicted a contraction of Apple’s line-up. “All [notebooks] need to be more mobile, so something like the Air doesn’t need to be branched out anymore,” she said of the differenciation Apple made for the line since its introduction more than eight years ago. “And it’s to Apple’s benefit not to have so many ‘families’ of Macs.”

Over time, it seems likely that the MacBook Air range could be discontinued and eventually replaced by a Retina MacBook range at a lower price.

We’ll be updating this article as more information about the rumoured Retina MacBook Air emerges so check back from time to time for the latest news.

Wondering which MacBook is best for you? Read: MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro comparison review, 13in Apple laptops compared

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