There's fresh word on the date we can expect the next MacBook Air to arrive, complete with Apple M2 chip inside and a new design with different colour options. Unfortunately, that date isn't towards the end of 2021, as I'd hoped, but will be some way into 2022.
That's according to info from a fairly reliable leaker spotted by FrontPageTech (opens in new tab). The leak says that the MacBook Air will come in the first half of 2022, which is obviously a fairly wide window. The iMac 24-inch (M1, 2021) arrived in May, so perhaps we'll see a similar date to that, though Apple has launched products as early as March in the past.
I find this date… disappointing. It's so much later than I hoped, but it's not like Apple had made any promises here. It's just because I'm so damn impatient for this new MacBook Air to come out.
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When Apple first announced that it was making its own chips, it was exciting because it suggested the potential for some pretty aggressive new computer designs. When you're using Intel's processors, your physical options are limited by what chips they make available to you, and what they need in terms of cooling or battery power. But with Apple making both the chips and the laptops, it could design them in harmony… the imagination ran riot!
And then the actual machines we got looked exactly the same as the previous Intel versions. Now, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) are both damn fine machines, but using the old shapes felt like waste of the M1 chip's potential.
We finally got to see that potential in the iMac 24-inch, which Apple said was the first Mac designed from the ground up around the M1. That's what we were waiting for, and it was suitably ground-breaking – the iMac is so thin that the current MacBook Air is around 50% thicker than it when closed. The Air is the ultraportable laptop, and a desktop makes it look like a whacking great cow of a machine.
Living with the iMac during my review made me realise just how cool a laptop made with the same principles could be – it was so fast, so slick, and such a fun design, that having it around was exciting in the ways that computers used to be, back before they were just this annoying thing you had to buy.
Then the iPad Pro (M1, 2021) arrived and really drove home what a potential MacBook Air design could be – that uses the M1 as well, and is 5.9mm thick. The MacBook Air is almost three times thicker!
The early renders of the next MacBook Air based on leaked production info suggest that the next version could be as little as 8 or 9mm thick. This would mean a major reduction in volume, and probably a big cut in its weight, too.
As someone who's travelled a lot for work, I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to getting a laptop that's even lighter in my bag, but is still that powerful and fast, and with a great keyboard.
I hoped it was going to be my Christmas present to myself, but I guess it'll have to be more like a summer splurge, if this date is accurate – and given the chip shortages worldwide, and the fact that there was no reason Apple had to stick to the yearly updates on the MacBook Air that it does with iPhones, I think it may well be true.