More Claims of MacBook Pro Adopting MacBook Air Form Factor in 2012 Redesign

In two reports back in April and July of last year, we reported that Apple was working on an ultra-thin 15-inch Mac notebook, with the suggestion being that the existing MacBook Pro line would evolve to take design cues and many of the features from the popular MacBook Air. But whether the larger notebooks would be branded as MacBook Pros or MacBook Airs has been unclear.

Many had hoped that the redesigned 15-inch notebook would debut by the end of 2011, but Apple apparently elected to squeeze in one final minor spec bump as it waited for Intel's Ivy Bridge platform to launch in 2012. Reports late last year continued to suggest that Apple was finishing up work on the redesigned 15-inch MacBook Pro ahead of a 2012 debut.

AppleInsider now weighs in with its own claims essentially mirroring much of what was previously reported, but emphasizing that the shift will likely see a unification of Apple's notebook lines under the MacBook Air design aesthetic, covering the full range of 11-inch to 17-inch sizes by the end of this year.

This will include new, ultra-thin unibody enclosures that jettison yesteryear technologies like optical disk drives and traditional hard drives in favor of models with lightweight chassis that employ flash-memory based solid-state drives, instant-on capabilities, extended battery life, and rely on digital distribution for software and media.

"They're all going to look like MacBook Airs," one person familiar with the new MacBook Pro designs told AppleInsider. Meanwhile, existing MacBook Pro designs are expected to be phased out over the course of the year.

The report suggests that Apple may not shift the entire MacBook Pro line at once, instead beginning with the 15-inch model and then following with the 17-inch model "shortly thereafter". Apple followed a similar pattern with its transition to the present unibody design back in late 2008 and early 2009.

macbook air four sizes mockup
Mockup of MacBook Air design spanning full range of Apple notebook sizes

The fate of the 13-inch MacBook Pro remains murky, and may depend on just how closely the new MacBook Pro designs mirror the smaller MacBook Air and whether Apple brings the whole notebook line under a single name. With the MacBook Pro redesign and a boost to the 13-inch MacBook Air, there may simply not be enough differentiating the two 13-inch machines and Apple may opt to consolidate its notebooks down to essentially a single line in four different sizes.

Top Rated Comments

ChoMomma Avatar
117 months ago
The 17" MBP 'Air' will be considered a lethal weapon and could be used to chop down trees in a pinch.
Score: 58 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macuserx86 Avatar
117 months ago
At that point, Apple should get rid of the "Pro" moniker since such a thin machine will most likely require sacrifices in power and expandability that will make it useless to anyone who has a compute-intensive workflow.

Even if Apple could fit a proper mobile GPU and sufficiently powerful CPU, the constraints of such a thin design will mean either clocking them down to a useless extent or having a laptop underside that routinely hits over 70ºC.

In addition, it would follow that Apple would adopt a MBA style of SSD. If that happens, the great ability to fill the MBP with 2.5" drives (or even just the ability to easily upgrade/replace one 2.5" drive) will be gone and the product will be virtually useless.

Now, before everyone goes "flame on" on my post, remember that I'm just speculating and assuming the worst. Thunderbolt has the potential to make a MBAir-style laptop useful, but the lack of available/affordable thunderbolt accessories is worrying and constantly having to carry external TB accessories just to recoup lost functionality is horribly backwards.

However, if Apple thinned down slightly, removed the optical bay and migrated to a (normal 2.5 "SATA) SSD+HDD setup then I'd call that progress. I mean, who uses optical drives anymore?
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cube Avatar
117 months ago
That is not an MBP.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nielsenius Avatar
117 months ago
Unless there's a major technological breakthrough with these new Ivy Bridge chips, I don't know how anyone expects an Air-like MacBook Pro to run at the same "Pro" level. There would seem to be a number of battery life and heat issues that need to be addressed.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
damir00 Avatar
117 months ago
Very curious to see how much GPU and CPU performance they'll be able to keep in a 15". Quite the design challenge...!
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WestonHarvey1 Avatar
117 months ago

I hope the new MacBook Pros still have DVD drives. I know people will say "but waahhhh I never use mine!" Well, what about the plenty of people who's laptops are their portable DVD players?

I'm sure the MacBook Pros won't merge with the MacBook Airs as the Pros aren't designed to be thin, so the same sacrifices won't be made with the Pros as is made with the Airs. For example, MacBook Pro hard drives will still be min 500GB.


Laptop as a portable DVD player? Ugh!

How do you carry all your DVDs around? Do you have one of those folders that zips open with all the little plastic folders inside?
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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