In the run-up to Apple’s WWDC this summer, the general buzz is that the keynote is going heavy on the introduction of the AR/VR headset. But according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the keynote won’t be just about the headset. We could see some new MacBooks, as well. That’s MacBooks as in plural.
One key point about these new laptops, however: Gurman doesn’t think that any of these new MacBooks will have Apple’s highly anticipated M3 chip, a point that was corroborated later in the week by Ming-Chi Kuo. This is significant for two reasons. For one, the M3 will be the first Mac chip made with the 3nm process, which will bring speed and efficiency boosts that will likely be higher than the M2. For another, there aren’t really any MacBooks that aren’t already running 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 some time, and Gurman recently reported that Apple is taking the steps that seemingly lead to a WWDC reveal. Apple’s current 13-inch MacBook Air is the company’s most popular Mac, and with reports that sales are down, a 15-inch MacBook Air could be what the company needs to give sales a jolt.
The 13-inch MacBook Air is popular because it’s an ideal combination of price, portability, and performance. But for a lot of folks (like me), a 13-inch laptop is too small. A 15-inch MacBook Air could end up being a perfect laptop, even without the high-end features and processor of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro
Gurman mentions that Apple has a 13-inch MacBook Pro in the works. However, since the current model was updated last year with an M2 chip, and since Gurman says that the M3 isn’t ready, that could mean one of three things.
The first possibility is that Apple upgrades it with an M2 Pro chip to add a bit more separation between it and the 15-inch MacBook Air. That would obviously make it a faster machine but does nothing to fix its design problems: It’s the only Pro laptop with large bezels and the Touch Bar. But at least an M2 Pro chip would make it a better fit with the rest of the MacBook Pro lineup.
The second possibility is that Apple keeps the M2 chip but redesigns the laptop to fit the rest of the Pro line. This seems less likely, though, since it would essentially be a twin of the MacBook Air, even if it keeps the Touch Bar.
The third and most likely possibility is that Apple makes some slight but meaningful updates. It could bring Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E and upgrade the SSD from using 256GB NAND flash chips to 128GB chips. Apple uses a single 256GB NAND flash storage chip in its lowest-priced M2 MacBook Air and M2 13-inch MacBook Pro (and the M2 Mac mini), and it is 50 percent slower than a pair of 128GB chips (which was used in the M1). No one knows for sure why Apple made this change, but price and supply issues are likely causes. It’d be a complicated change to do from a production standpoint, but Apple could do it.
If the chips and NAND are the only updates, then don’t expect Apple to say much (if anything at all) about it 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 with updated specs
The current 13-inch MacBook Air was released last June with the M2 chip, so it’s doubtful it will get a meaningful update before the M3 arrives. And while we love this laptop, there are a couple of things Apple could change that would make it even better, especially if the 15-inch model has them.
The first feature that needs to change is the FaceTime camera. Apple uses a 1080p camera that’s so mediocre we recommend that 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’s also the outside chance that Apple updates the M1 MacBook Air with an M2 chip that’s less powerful than the current M2. Gurman’s report was very specific in its wording that the new MacBooks will “run something in line with the current M2 processors,” so it’s possible that Apple has something up its sleeve to freshen the M1 MacBook that’s now more than two years old.