While Apple’s higher-range MacBook Pros received an update earlier this year, the entry-level MacBook options are in desperate need of an overhaul. Rumors have been swirling as to what exactly that device will be, but we know the company has something up its sleeve for a cheaper MacBook in 2018.
There’s been no official announcement thus far, but here’s everything we know so far about what Apple’s upcoming laptop.
Oct. 30 event in Brooklyn
Invites were sent out to an Oct. 30 event in Brooklyn, New York. While the invites didn’t specify this would be a Mac event, it’s highly rumored that we’ll see updates to multiple Mac systems at the event.
Chief among these is the debut of some kind of a new MacBook. Along that, we could also see products such as a new iPad Pro, iMac, and Mac Mini. The event will be livestreamed for the world to see what Apple’s been working on in the world of new Macs. It starts up at 10 A.M. EST, which is 7 A.M. PST.
So, is it a MacBook Air or just a MacBook?
There are a number of reports concerning what the 2018 MacBook will be like, but one important question remains: Will Apple be applying these changes to the traditional 12-inch MacBook or the old MacBook Air? So far, we don’t know for sure. Signs do point to at least one of the new MacBook models being an updated Air.
We’ll keep you updated when it becomes clearer which MacBook line Apple is making such significant changes to, but for now keep in mind that these MacBook 2018 updates could apply to either the Air or the 12-inch MacBook. Both are fairly outdated at this point in terms of both internal components and design. The Air brand has been halted in other lines such as the iPad, so we’d be surprised to see it continued in MacBooks.
Which model ultimately gets a big update is an important question. If Apple updates the MacBook Air with major changes but leaves the 12-inch MacBook untouched, it will be a strong signal that Apple prefers to continue with the Air and Pro lines, leaving the state of the MacBook up in the air.
The MacBook and especially the MacBook Air (stuck on a fifth-gen chip) are due for processor upgrades. The problem is narrowing down exactly what processor the new model will include.
Let’s say that Apple sticks with Intel chips, in which case we have another set of reports that shows the company is expected to upgrade to 8th-gen processors. That gives us a few different options for the newer, powerful chips. On the older side, we have Kaby Lake Refresh line. In the middle, there are Amber Lake chips, which have been reported to be included in the new MacBook model and would make us very happy. On other side are the Whiskey Lake Y-series processors, which would could show up in an entry-level configuration.
If you’re still waiting for Apple to leave Intel altogether, don’t hold your breath just yet. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, source of many Apple reports, believes that Apple wants to transition from Intel processors to its own chips (already used in many iOS devices), though it won’t be for a few years. This would switch MacBooks to ARM chips with Apple in full control, which may allow for additional efficiency.
Even thinner bezels
Bezels are officially the uncoolest kid at the party, so it’s no surprise to see brands cutting them out. The new iPhone models, for example, have as little bezel as they can get away with as a way to increase screen size. Reports suggest Apple is looking at a similar tactic for its new MacBook model, reducing bezel size and potentially increasing the display size.
This would be especially good news for the original MacBook, with a 12-inch display that hasn’t aged very well. The 2017 MacBook Pros cut down the bezel size, though they’re still a big bigger than on laptops like the Dell XPS 13. Could we see a notch on the new MacBook to leave room for a webcam position at the top of the display? Let’s hope not.
Other reports from Bloomberg and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicate that one of the upgrades Apple is planning is a Retina screen for the MacBook. The MacBook Air is, of course, the only MacBook model that currently doesn’t have a Retina screen, which is a sign that a new Air may be the big MacBook 2018 model. This would significantly improve the resolution of the screen and bring it more up to date with the current MacBook Pros.
Whatever Apple has decided on, it’s safe to say that screen improvements will be part of it in some way.
Touch ID included, the Touch Bar left off
The Touch Bar was definitely a hit-or-miss feature on the last crop of MacBooks. We weren’t exactly big fans of the feature, which seemed promising on paper but wasn’t all that convenient in daily use. Perhaps Apple will revamp the Touch Bar for a new MacBook in 2018 — or leave it off entirely. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks that the Touch Bar is gone for good and that we will see a new feature hitting MacBooks instead: Touch ID.
Apple recently ditched Touch ID on its iPhones for facial recognition, but it may want a stepping stone on MacBooks before shifting to full facial recognition there (as Microsoft Surface devices offer, for example). Touch ID adds some nice biometric security without raising privacy concerns.
This would make a lot of sense, especially if the price of the new MacBook is to be on the lower-end. The Touch Bar was an expensive addition to the MacBook Pros that wasn’t received well, while Touch ID is a popular feature.
Potentially under $1,000
One phrase that keeps coming up in reports about the new MacBook is “low-cost.” Without a number attached to that phrase, it’s hard to say how much the MacBook will cost. The cheapest MacBook Air build is currently for $1000, so that’s probably the figure that we’re working with.
Meanwhile, the 12-inch MacBook starts at $1,300, which matches the price of the entry-level MacBook Pro. The pricing scale has always made the MacBook a hard sell, considering how much more powerful the Pro is. Apple could create a lower tier for a new MacBook or just slash the price altogether like it did with the iPad last year.
So, while the new MacBook model is likely to be around $1,000, don’t expect it to be much lower than that. Apple has never been very interested in selling laptops cheaper than a thousand bucks.