New MacBook Air reportedly coming later this year, with even thinner and lighter design

A bigger spec but not a bigger screen – and there’s good news about the MacBook Pro

MacBook Air
(Image credit: Future)

The M1 MacBook Air is getting a sibling. It’ll be more powerful than the M1 and it will also be thinner and lighter – but it won’t be bigger. In fact, it might even shrink.

That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who reports that Apple intends to release a new, higher spec MacBook Air in late 2021 or more likely, early 2022: other sources, such as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and trade title DigiTimes, have previously indicated a 2022 launch date for the next MacBook Air.

No matter when the new one comes out, the existing MacBook Air will remain as the entry level option. It is highly likely to remain the best laptop for most people, and the best ultraportable laptop (as well as one of the best student laptops).

The new MacBook Air will have the rejuvenated MagSafe connector that's reportedly coming to the new MacBook Pro, which will supplement the new MacBook Air’s twin USB 4 ports, and it will shrink the border around the screen to make it smaller. Apple discussed making a 15-inch version but has decided to stick with 13 inches for the 2021/2022 model says Gurman. It’s possible that a 15-inch MacBook Air may appear further down the line.

The next MacBook Pro: SD card slot yes, Touch Bar no

According to Gurman, Apple is making several changes to its next Macs that will delight many Mac fans. In addition to MagSafe, which last appeared in the 2017 MacBook Air, the next M-series MacBook Pro will get its SD card slot back. That’s good news for the photographers and video pros who mourned its departure. As previously reported, the love-it-or-hate-it Touch Bar is destined for the bin, despite appearing on the current M1 MacBook Pro 13-inch

Another future change may finally bring stand-alone cellular connectivity to the MacBook range. Apple has filed stacks of patents for laptops with integrated models but so far hasn’t launched any such products; while it’s a safe bet that many MacBook Pro owners are also carrying iPhones, a cellular option would be a great option for mobile workers, photographers on assignment and anybody else who needs to send a lot from their laptop. 

Apple has also worked on integrating Face ID into its MacBooks, but for now it seems that Touch ID is its preferred authentication method for mobile Macs. According to Gurman, Face ID had been considered for the coming 2021 iMac redesign but Apple decided not to go ahead with the feature.