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The redesigned MacBook Air might also come with a notch

Published Oct 21st, 2021 7:31AM EDT
Redesigned MacBook Air
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple’s 2020 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are almost the same computer, something that hasn’t happened before. That’s because Apple used virtually the same M1 SoC inside both devices, giving them almost the same performance. A year later, Apple finally gave MacBook Pro buyers the more powerful chips they expected from the Pro laptops. The redesigned MacBook Pro brings tremendous performance, a massive display upgrade, a variety of “old” ports, and MagSafe charging. That makes the 2021 MacBook Pro the most exciting laptop Apple has ever made. But the MacBook Air got left behind. There’s no new model for the fans of the more portable Mac laptop this year.

A series of reports claimed over the summer that the MacBook Air redesign would not come this year, and Apple practically confirmed it. But we already think we know what to expect from the next-gen Air, thanks to a mix of old and new leaks.

The redesigned MacBook Air

A big MacBook Pro leak went largely unnoticed until the eve of Apple’s event this week. Some people claimed that the MacBook Pro would feature a notch display like the iPhone all the way back in mid-August. Those leaks resurfaced late last week, to the point where they seemed believable. And then Apple confirmed the MacBook Pro’s notch. The same leaks said the next-gen MacBook Air will feature its own notch. It now makes plenty of sense to see Apple use the same design on its more affordable laptop.

Per MacRumors, the same leaker who first mentioned the MacBook notch said a few days ago that the redesigned MacBook Air will lose the iconic wedge design that Apple used for years. Instead, the new chassis will be more symmetrical. The leaker also said the 2022 MacBook Air will be light and “very round.” The 2021 MacBook Pro is slightly thicker and heavier, and it’s flatter than before.

The redesigned MacBook Air should also inherit the MacBook Pro’s black well keyboard design. Then again, older rumors said that the MacBook Air will come in all sorts of colors, and the keyboard could sport a different color than black. Also, like the Pro, the keyboard will not have a Touch Bar screen at the top. As seen below, Jon Prosser is the leaker who produced the first MacBook Air renders earlier this year.

MacBook Air 2021 Colors
Render shows purported MacBook Air 2021 with the lid open, revealing a white keyboard. Image source: Jon Prosser and Ian Zelbo

The big specs upgrade

Older MacBook Air rumors also said that the laptop would feature MagSafe support, which makes a lot of sense after the MacBook Pro introduction. Apple made a few significant upgrades to MagSafe 3, which now supports faster charging than USB-C. The Air will also feature a pair of USB-C connectors, but it’s not likely to get any o the other ports.

The most exciting upgrade that MacBook Air fans expect concerns the processor. But the Air won’t get the M1 Pro or M1 Max SoCs, which are reserved for the MacBook Pro. Instead, we’re looking at an M2 upgrade for the new Air. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, that’s going to be an SoC with the same 8-core CPU design as the M1. But it’ll be faster than before. The GPU will get more cores. We’re expecting 9-core and 10-core options instead of the current 7-core and 8-core versions.

The notch will not be the 2022 MacBook Air’s only big-screen change. Apple will use a mini-LED panel inside the next-gen Air, although it’s unclear what screen size we should expect. Apple could recycle the 14-inch panel inside the MacBook Pro for the Air, but that’s just speculation at this point.

2022 MacBook Air release

Well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said recently that the redesigned MacBook Air will launch around the middle of 2022. That’s going to be a long wait for Air users looking to upgrade to a new machine, assuming the information is accurate. Leakers aren’t always right about Apple’s plans, and the company might always shuffle things around. After all, some leaks said the 2021 MacBook Pro upgrade would drop at WWDC back in June. But that never happened.

There’s also the ongoing parts shortage to take into account. Apple might not comment on supply chain rumors, but we did see reports claiming the company has also faced chip issues. Also, mini-LED screen manufacturing issues impacted the iPad Pro production earlier in the 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.