Apple is preparing to release a new, entry-level MacBook laptop this fall that will feature LTE capabilities, according to sources. The computer, which has been heavily rumored throughout 2018, is said to replace the current MacBook Air in the company’s lineup, though it remains unclear if this device is a new version of the MacBook or a next-generation MacBook Air.
The device will also feature Intel’s 8th generation Kaby Lake processors, a significant upgrade over both the current MacBook Air’s 5th-generation processors and the MacBook’s Core-M processors. Additionally, the Mac will include retina a display and use USB-C for I/O and charging.
While unclear, it is possible the new device will ultimately replace the MacBook lineup, first introduced in 2015. The machines, which were notable for their thin, fan-less design, have been stagnated due to Intel’s lack of attention and delays to the Core-M processor.
As a result, Apple has not been able to lower the price to more closely match the historic MacBook Air lineup, which starts at $999, from the current $1299 starting price.
MacBook and Intel’s Issues
Apple had initially intended on phasing-out the MacBook Air after announcing the MacBook in 2015. Executives had hoped that, over time, Intel’s Core-M processors would improve in price and that ultimately the MacBook would become ground zero for Apple’s processors coming to the Mac.
Intel, however, has faced severe manufacturing issues with all of its processors and has put little focus on the M-lineup. While PC manufacturers had originally expected this chip to be the leader of next-generation fan-less design, Microsoft and its respective OEMs have already begun pivoting to ARM-based machines.
The MacBook Air, which has only seen minor updates since 2013, has remained a top-seller for Apple. As the device remains the companies cheapest notebook, most customers are inclined to buy the device.
Additionally, because the MacBook features exclusively USB-C and a significantly higher price tag, most customers deciding between the two end up choosing the Air.
Apple plans to begin transitioning the Mac to ARM processors in 2020, starting with the MacBook lineup. While this means the device will likely receive significant attention a few years from now, its current incarnation may be ignored for the time being.
Apple is planning to release a minor 2018 refresh to the MacBook.
With a temporary focus on a revitalized entry-MacBook Air, Apple hopes to regain market share with a competitively priced product that is on-par with similar Windows machines from a technical perspective, as well as compete with Google’s Chromebook.
A New MacBook with LTE
While the details regarding the device’s name and product lineup remain unclear, Apple will unveil a new entry-level laptop later this year.
The device will start below $1000 in the US, we estimate at $899, but some reports have it pegged as low as $799. While all models will feature a 13-inch Retina display, the device is likely to come in multiple technical configurations.
The most notable technical configuration will be optional LTE support. Similar to Apple’s iPad lineup, users will be able to purchase a model of the new machine with eSim technology that will allow it to connect to a cellular network for an additional fee.
This information comes both from a source and indications from Apple’s macOS Mojave and iOS 12 betas. Similar to the iPad, LTE configurations will cost a $129 premium.
We also believe the new device will use USB-C for I/O exclusively, falling in-line with the rest of the Mac lineup. Apple has internally tested the device in multiple color variations, though it is unclear if these variations will be available at launch.
We believe the design will not be identical to the current MacBook Air and instead features a mesh of the current Air design and the MacBook design.
We expect the device to be announced at an event this fall, with a release before the holiday season.