Apple set to break with convention and give us much cheaper MacBooks

Low cost 12-inch and 13-inch MacBooks are tantalisingly close to production, according to new reports

MacBook Air M2
(Image credit: Jon Prosser, RendersByIan)

If there's one thing we know about Apple, it's that it doesn't make cheap computers. But a new report suggests that Apple is starting to Think Different about that. Fancy a MacBook for around £700? Apple is apparently very close to making just that. That's a whopping £299 less than the current cheapest MacBook, the MacBook Air.

The report, via news aggregator yeux1122 (spotted by MacRumors), says that Apple hasn't yet fully committed to production. But the report says it has two more affordable MacBooks in the late stage of development, and if Apple decides to greenlight them they could go on sale in 2024.

That ties in with previous reports that suggested Apple was considering a more affordable MacBook range for late 2024. The target is the education market, but clearly a cheaper Mac laptop would sell by the truckload to other buyers too.

Why Apple's considering cheaper Macs

Way back in the days of netbook mania, pundits urged Apple to make a really cheap Mac laptop. It made the iPad instead, and it's pushed that heavily to the education market. But in recent years Chromebooks have been taking ever bigger chunks of that market. Cheaper Chromebooks are going after the iPad's market share, while some of the best Chromebooks offer similar power to Mac laptops without the Mac laptop price. Apple is reportedly hoping to recapture market share from both by pricing its cheaper MacBook at around $700/£700.

The idea of more affordable Mac laptops is hardly new: Apple made them in the form of its MacBook in the mid-2000s, and in 2008 the 12-inch MacBook was the best-selling laptop of any brand in US retail stores. It was pitched as the cheap Mac, although of course Apple doesn't use that word – but it was priced to sell, cheaper than both the MacBook Air and the most affordable MacBook Pro. Apple killed it off in favour of the Air in mid-2011 and since then the price of the cheapest MacBook Air has risen considerably.

As with the 12-inch MacBook of the mid-2000s, the rumoured affordable Mac laptop for 2024 won't have a killer spec – but Apple Silicon is hardly slow, and an M-series chipset in a nice laptop body would be fast enough for most people. Think iPad Air with a keyboard. Would you buy one? I'm pretty sure I would.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (