Leading up to Apple’s WWDC this summer, the general buzz is that the keynote will be heavy on the introduction of the AR/VR headset. But according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the keynote isn’t just about the headset. We could also see some new MacBooks. That’s MacBookS as in the plural.
One key point about these new laptops, though, is that Gurman doesn’t think any of these new MacBooks will feature Apple’s long-awaited M3 chip. This is important for two reasons. First, the M3 will be the first Mac chip made with the 3nm process, bringing speed and efficiency improvements likely to be higher than the M2. For another, there aren’t really any MacBooks that don’t already work with M2 chips.
But Gurman reports that “at least some” of the new M2 laptops Apple is working on will be announced at WWDC. So, what could those MacBooks be? Until we get a clearer picture, we can make a few guesses.
15-inch MacBook Air
This laptop has been in the rumor mill for a while, and Gurman recently reported that Apple is taking the steps that seemingly lead to a WWDC unveiling. Apple’s current 13-inch MacBook Air is the company’s most popular Mac, and with reports of sales dropping, a 15-inch MacBook Air could be what the company needs to boost sales.
The 13-inch MacBook Air is popular because it is an ideal combination of price, portability and performance. But for many people (like me), a 13-inch laptop is too small. A 15-inch MacBook Air could become a perfect MacBook even without the advanced features of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
13-inch MacBook Pro
Gurman mentions that Apple has a 13-inch MacBook Pro in the works. However, given that the current model was updated with an M2 chip last year, and since Gurman says the M3 isn’t ready yet, that could mean three things.
The first possibility is Apple upgrading it with an M2 Pro chip to add some more separation between it and the 15-inch MacBook Air. That would make it a faster machine, of course, but doesn’t solve the design issues: it’s the only Pro laptop with big bezels and the Touch Bar. But at least an M2 Pro chip would make it fit in better with the rest of the MacBook Pro range.
The second possibility is that Apple keeps the M2 chip but redesigns the laptop to fit in with the rest of the Pro line. This seems less likely, however, as it would essentially be a twin brother to the MacBook Air, even if it retains the Touch Bar.
The third and most likely possibility is that Apple will make some minor but meaningful updates. It could bring Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E and upgrade the 256GB SSD from a single NAND flash chip to two 128GB chips. Apple uses a single NAND flash storage chip in its lower-end M2 MacBook Air and M2 13-inch MacBook Pro (and the M2 Mac mini), and it’s 50 percent slower than a pair of 128GB chips (which was used in the M1 ). No one is sure why Apple made this change, but pricing and delivery issues are likely causes.
If the chips and NAND are the only updates, don’t expect Apple to say much (or anything at all) about them during the keynote. However, the new model could appear in the Apple Store with a “New” label to signify the changes.
13-inch MacBook Air
The current 13-inch MacBook Air was released last June with the M2 chip, so it’s doubtful it’ll get a meaningful update before the M3 arrives. And while we love this laptop, there are a few things Apple could change that would make it even better, especially if the 15-inch model has them.
The first feature to change is the FaceTime camera. Apple uses a 1080p camera which is so mediocre that we recommend people use Continuity Camera instead. It could use an upgrade. And like the MacBook Pro, it could also use a faster 256GB SSD, Wi-FI 6E and Bluetooth 5.3.
There is also the chance that Apple will update the M1 MacBook Air with an M2 chip that is slower than the current M2. Gurman’s report was very specific in saying that the new MacBooks will “run something in line with current M2 processors,” so it’s possible that Apple has something up its sleeve to make the M1 MacBook, which is now more than two years old to refresh.
When the M3 is ready…
Of course, Gurman’s sources could be wrong or trying to mislead him, and there’s always a chance the M3 is ready. If so, it simplifies what we were able to see at WWDC: the three laptops here get the new chip with the 15-inch MacBook Air as a brand new model. Whatever Apple is up to, it’s good to know Mac users have something to look forward to at WWDC.