Updated MacBook Air and MacBook Pro With USB-C May Still Be Unveiled in June
Apple plans to announce new MacBook Air models within the month of June, and begin shipping the notebooks to retailers in August, according to Japanese website Mac Otakara. The conflicting report also claims that Apple will announce a refresh to its entire MacBook Pro series this month, although it did not specify when shipments of those models would begin.
The report, citing "a reliable Chinese supplier," mentions earlier rumors that Apple will discontinue the smaller 11-inch MacBook Air to focus on 13-inch and all-new 15-inch models, although it is unclear if Mac Otakara's source is independently corroborating them. All of the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are expected to be equipped with Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, while USB-A, MagSafe 2, and Thunderbolt 2 ports found on existing models will allegedly be removed.
Mac Otakara said it is unclear whether Apple plans to announce the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models at WWDC 2016, but multiple reliable sources have indicated that it will effectively be a no-hardware event. Apple could still make a non-WWDC announcement in June by way of press release, as was the case with the new 12-inch MacBook in April, possibly indicating only minor updates.
Today's report is mostly in line with Taiwan's hit-or-miss Economic Daily News, which reported that Apple will announce slimmer 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air models with "fully redesigned" internal components at WWDC 2016, followed by a launch in the July-September quarter. That report is from November 2015, however, so Apple's exact product roadmap may have changed over the past eight months.
Taiwanese website DigiTimes also reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the June quarter. The report said the new MacBooks will "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air," which makes it difficult to infer whether the report is referring to the MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro lineup.
In a recent research note, however, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple will not introduce new MacBook models until the second half of 2016, including a thin and light 13-inch MacBook in the third quarter, and two thinner and lighter 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter. Other reliable sources have also suggested new Macs will be released later in the year.
In terms of the new MacBook Pro, Kuo said the 2016 model will feature a thinner and lighter form factor, Touch ID, and a new OLED touch bar positioned above the keyboard. Leaked photos of what appears to be the notebook's unibody revealed space for the OLED touch panel and four USB-C ports. The new MacBook Pro is also expected to adopt metal injection mold-made hinges, which are reportedly already shipping.
Other improvements to the 2016 MacBook Pro should include faster Skylake processors across the lineup, while the top-of-the-line models may sport AMD's new 400-series Polaris graphics chips. Apple last refreshed the 13-inch MacBook Pro in March 2015, followed by the 15-inch model in May 2015, with Force Touch trackpads, faster flash storage, longer battery life, and improved graphics.
Meanwhile, Apple has not fully refreshed the MacBook Air since March 2015, when both the 11- and 13-inch models were upgraded with faster Broadwell processors, Thunderbolt 2, and Intel HD Graphics 6000. The 13-inch MacBook Air also received up to two times faster flash storage. The only minor update to the lineup since then was in April, when Apple bumped the stock 13-inch MacBook Air to 8GB of RAM, up from 4GB.
Apple not updating the 11-inch MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM as well lends credence to rumors claiming the ultra-portable model will be discontinued.
While it is widely believed that Apple may eventually discontinue the entire MacBook Air, which currently sits awkwardly between the Retina MacBook and MacBook Pro, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said the notebook will remain part of Apple's lineup for now, repositioned as its lower-priced offering.
We expect new MacBook Pro models to be thinner and lighter with better hardware specifications. As such, it will retain its high-end position in the line. MacBook will replace MacBook Air to become the medium-/ high-end model. As both MacBook Pro and MacBook have a thin and light form factor, there is no need to keep MacBook Air. For this reason, we predict no significant upgrade for MacBook Air going forward. Rather, it will serve as an entry-level model sold at low prices.
Apple's WWDC 2016 keynote will occur on Monday, June 13 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.