What to Expect If Apple Debuts a New MacBook Air at WWDC Next Week
With the chances of Apple revealing its mixed reality headset at WWDC 2022 looking decidedly less likely as its developer conference creeps nearer, rumors of Apple's new-look MacBook Air have once again come to the fore. Here's everything we expect to see if Apple chooses to announce a new version of its slimmest notebook next week.
The design of the current MacBook Air has been synonymous with the company's thinnest notebook since October 2010. The existing tapered design goes from thicker at the back to thinner at the front.
By contrast, the new MacBook Air is expected to look much more like a slimmed-down version of the MacBook Pro, with rounded edges on the bottom and squared-off edges on the top. Rumors have also suggested the new MacBook Air is thinner and lighter, with slimmer borders around the display than the current model.
White Bezels and Keyboard
The MacBook Air is rumored to be modeled after the 24-inch iMac, with off-white bezels around the display and a matching off-white keyboard. Given that Apple adopted full-size function keys on its latest MacBook Pro models, Apple may well bring this look to the MacBook Air as well.
Apple also adopted an all-black well for the MacBook Pro's keyboard, so an all-white variation for the MacBook Air is expected.
Last year's MacBook Pro surprised us all with a notch for the camera, and all the rumors suggest the MacBook Air will have the same notch, but this time in white, in order to match the bezels and keyboard.
Most MacBook Pro owners will tell you the notch isn't an issue as its ingression into the menu bar allows for more screen real estate below, and it effectively disappears from view when in fullscreen mode, which turns the menu bar black. However, the new MacBook Air is likely to stoke another round of "notch controversy," with the divisive factor this time being its color rather than its mere existence.
Continuing with the iMac theme, the new MacBook Air is expected to be made available in several color options. The colors could be similar to the 24-inch iMac, which comes in blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, and purple. (There is also unfettered speculation online that Apple's WWDC artwork hints at several new MacBook Air colors.)
Apple has a history of using bright colors for its non Pro machines (the iBook G3, for example) and different color options would clearly distinguish the MacBook Air from its Pro sibling.
Slightly Larger LCD Display
The 2022 MacBook Air will feature a display size of 13.6-inches, according to Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) analyst Ross Young. This would make it 0.3-inches larger than the current MacBook Air, but still 0.6-inches smaller than the current 14.2-inch MacBook Pro.
Young told MacRumors that the 2022 MacBook Air will not feature a mini-LED display or ProMotion technology. This runs counter to claims from DigiTimes that the this year's MacBook Air will get a mini-LED display, but Young maintains that it will use an LCD display to maintain a lower price point compared to the high-end MacBook Pros.
M1 or M2 Processor
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this year that the 2022 MacBook Air would retain the M1 chip rather than feature the M2 processor. Meanwhile, ShrimpApplePro has claimed that Apple is working on the "final SoC of M1 series," featuring updated cores, so it's possible that this relates to a new version of the entry-level M1.
Releasing a MacBook Air with a mid-generation iteration of the standard M1 chip could help Apple buy time before releasing Macs with the M2 chip next year, when TSMC's more advanced N3 fabrication process becomes available.
Apple could well call the chip in the new MacBook Air the "M2" to boost sales, but it may opt to save the "M2" name for a much more substantial upgrade over the previous generation in 2023 to further enhance Apple silicon's brand image.
As part of their redesign, the latest MacBook Pro models got a 1080p webcam for the first time. With the 27-inch iMac, 24-inch iMac, and the high-end MacBook Pro now featuring a 1080p webcam, the likelihood is that the MacBook Air will also benefit from one.
MagSafe and 2x Thunderbolt/USB4
For the redesigned MacBook Pro models, Apple brought back its much-loved MagSafe charging connector. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has claimed MagSafe is also coming to the MacBook Air.
Other connectivity options will be more modest, however. Gurman clams MagSafe will feature in addition to a pair of Thunderbolt/USB4 ports for connecting external devices.
MacBook Air Debut at WWDC?
A new MacBook Air announcement at WWDC certainly isn't a certainty. Apple could well decide to hold back the notebook in favor of a release later in the year when the ongoing supply chain issues are less impactful on its business.
That said, Apple's existing MacBook Air models are the only M1 Macs on its online store that are currently experiencing shipping delays, which could always be a hint that Apple is preparing to launch a new model.