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Eagerly awaited colorful MacBook Air might not launch in 2021 after all

Published Jul 6th, 2021 5:15PM EDT
MacBook Air 2021
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple delivered a brilliant surprise to iMac fans earlier this year when it announced an ultra-thin, colorful, all-in-one desktop. The 2021 iMac also comes with a powerful new M1 processor inside. Soon after Apple’s spring event, reports emerged claiming MacBooks would receive a similarly colorful upgrade. Renders appeared, teasing what a MacBook Air redesign might have to offer. Separately, reports detailed Apple’s next-gen M-series chips that would be equipped in the upcoming macOS computers. A leaker now claims that the colorful M2-powered MacBook Air redesign isn’t coming in 2021 after all.

The MacBook Air was one of the three Macs that Apple updated with the M1 last winter. Apple used the same M1 chip for the 2020 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Then the M1 made the jump to the 2021 iPad Pro and iMac.

The 2020 M1 Air effectively became as powerful as the 2020 M1 Pro. Reviewers loved the tremendous performance and battery life, prompting Intel to mount a massive anti-M1 ad campaign.

Apple’s custom Mac chips

Reports then said Apple planned significant design updates for both the 2021 MacBook Air and Pro. The new Pro might feature more ports and MagSafe support. The Air will get more colors and a thinner profile. Both models will feature next-gen M-series chips.

The new M-series processor powering the 2021 MacBooks has different names in these reports. Some call it the M1X, while others refer to it as the M2. Regardless of the name, Bloomberg offered a detailed rundown of Apple’s plans for the upcoming macs. Here’s what the report said of the 2021 MacBook Air chip hardware:

The 2021 MacBook Air will feature a direct successor to the M1, codenamed Staten. The SoC will include the same number of CPU cores as the M1, but they’ll be faster. GPU cores would increase from 7 or 8 to 9 or 10. The new low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro will get the same chip as the Air.

MacBook Air 2021 Colors
Render shows purported MacBook Air 2021 in blue with the lid slightly opened. Image source: Jon Prosser and Ian Zelbo

MacBook Air 2021 delayed?

A notable leaker that provided accurate details for the M1 iMac and 2021 iPad Pro is back with new predictions.

Dylan said on Twitter that the next-gen M2 chip is on track to release in the first half of 2022, alongside the colorful MacBook Air refresh. That’s not the M1X chip that Apple will use for the “Pro Mac” devices. Apple inadvertently confirmed the M1X chip naming scheme after WWDC 2021. The finding suggested Apple might have planned to unveil the 2021 MacBook Pro series at the event.

Dylan explained the differences between the M1X and M2, saying that the “M2 is a next-generation chip most likely built on the same foundation the A15 is built on.”

Interestingly, the leaker said in other tweets that he expects the A15 to be a “notable improvement and on par with the M1.” That’s not enough to confirm the iPhone 13’s chip will be as powerful as the M1 MacBook Air/Pro. But we did speculate that it’s only a matter of time until an M1-grade chip will power the iPhone.

The leaker also indicates that the colorful MacBook Air will get the same colors as the iMac, including the white bezel. He didn’t specify whether there will be a 2021 MacBook Air refresh in stores this year. But he seemed to imply it in a different tweet, as Dylan said the M1X Mac mini would join the 2021 MacBook Pro this fall.

As always with leaks, however, there’s no way to verify any of these claims right now. The colorful Air might be delayed, but Apple might always release a 2021 MacBook Air refresh this year.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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