A supposed first look at Apple's next-gen MacBook Air has been shared by regular Apple leaker Jon Prosser on his YouTube channel, Front Page Tech (opens in new tab), and they reveal a new design and colours that look to be exactly the kind of shot in the arm that I was hoping Apple's M1 chip would give its laptops.
The new iMac 24-inch does this for Apple's desktops, but the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) were both exactly the same design as the previous models, which was their only disappointment despite ranking among the best laptops of the year. Well, the MacBook Air that Prosser is sharing is a step forward.
First, when it comes to the provenance of the leaks, Prosser says that these images are renders based on original images that he doesn't want to share (in order to protect his source's identity). He says that he's seen photos of the new MacBook Air broken down into components, and shared them with 3D artists, and what you're seeing is their work to make a final version of these computers. Prosser did the same thing with Apple AirTag last year, and his design was bang on.
The new MacBook Air looks thinner than ever – the current version cheats its thinness by being tapered, but is 161mm (0.61 inches) at its thickest point. Based on the size of the USB-C port, the new version looks to be around the thickness of an iPad Pro 2021 for the lower section (64mm/0.25 inches), and then another 3mm to 5mm on top for the screen, which is about what current top panels tend to be.
That would make it, in total, only 70mm deep. That is going to feel like something else entirely in the hand – a massive leap forward in portability. And we know that the M1 chip can run in that kind of space, because it works in the iPad Pro we just mentioned as being the same thickness as this new MacBook Air.
We should note that Prosser calls this the "M2" MacBook Air, though, and seems to be expecting that Apple will use its next-gen chip in there, rather than the existing M1.
Aside from the thinness, the main things to note are the new iMac-like range of colours. Prosser says he sae pictures of the blue version, and that his source saw green too, and that the colours are very close to – if not the same as – the stands and fronts of the new iMac 24-inch. That means slightly pale colours – the iMac features a bolder colour on the back, but no sign of that on Prosser's render.
Also notable is the new white keyboard and white bezel around the screen. Prosser says he doesn't know the size of the display, but is sure about the white surround, which again matches the new iMac.
Some reports have said that MagSafe charging is coming back to the MacBook Air, but Prosser couldn't confirm that either way, so it's been left off this render, but that doesn't mean it won't be part of the final version.
The design looks like the ultraportable, zippy work machine of my dreams – especially if the smaller size means it can shed more weight. Could Apple even get it down to the magic 1kg mark? The M1 MacBook Air is more than powerful enough for anything I tend to do when working on the go, so making it lighter and shedding even more volume is pretty much the only way it can improve for me.
I just hope that the price doesn't rise much at the same time. The new iMac is gorgeous, but it isn't cheap. Fingers crossed this can debut at £999/$999 like the current MacBook Air, whenever it arrives – which is by no means guaranteed to even be in 2021, let alone soon.