In July, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple could release an update to the 13-inch MacBook Air this fall. This new laptop will likely replace the current M2 13-inch MacBook Air that’s $1,099. Gurman didn’t mention the 15-inch MacBook Air, which was introduced in July 2023, but it would be curious if both Macs were not on the same update schedule.
Here’s everything you need to know about the next generation MacBook Air, including the latest rumors, speculation based on current information and Apple’s history, and confirmed data.
What about the 15-inch MacBook Air?
You’ll notice that Gurman only mentioned the 13-inch MacBook Air. It would be a strange decision on Apple’s part to update the cheaper 13-inch MacBook Air to an M3 while leaving the 15-inch MacBook Air untouched, so we anticipate that both will be updated at the same time. But it is feasible that Gurman, who seems to have access to a lot of Apple’s secrets, could be correct and Apple will initially only update the 13-inch MacBook Air, leaving the MacBook Air for a later update. Surely the only reason to do so would be to give the 15-inch MacBook Air an update to the M3 Pro, but we think that unlikely as we expect both to get the same upgrades (M3, Wi-FI 6E, etc.).
M3 MacBook Air: Release date
In July 2023, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Apple is planning an October event that “could feature the first Macs with M3 chips” and mentioned the 13-inch MacBook Air, along with the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the iMac as the first machines to get it. The current M2 13-inch MacBook Air was released in July 2022, which would mean that an October M3 upgrade would come about 15 months after the M2 version hit the market.
However, Apple introduced the 15-inch MacBook Air with M2 in June 2023. An update to the 15-inch MacBook Air just four months later would be unusual and invite the question of why Apple introduced the 15-inch model at WWDC and didn’t just wait until the M3 model could launch. Apple could ignore the 15-inch MacBook Air and update it to M3 sometime after the 13-inch model is updated but this will be a confusing proposition to consumers who won’t want to spend more on the less powerful model in order to benefit from the larger screen.
On this basis, we don’t expect the MacBook Air update that Gurman points to, we think Apple will wait until spring 2024 and will update both MacBook Air models at the same time. It certainly didn’t mention Macs during its iPhone 15 launch event on 12 September.
M3 MacBook Air: Price
At this time, no reports have been made regarding the M3 MacBook Air’s price. When Apple released the M2 15-inch MacBook Air in June, the company reduced the price of the 13-inch model by $100/£100. Apple could use the M3 upgrade as an opportunity to raise the price back to $1,199, but we expect it to remain at the same price
The M3 13-inch MacBook Air’s price and specifications will likely follow that of the current M2 13-inch MacBook Air or be close. For your reference, here are the prices and specifications of the M2 13-inch MacBook Air standard configurations:
M2 chip with 8‑core CPU/8-core GPU, 8GB of memory, 256GB SSD: $1,099/£1,149
M2 chip with 8‑core CPU/10‑core GPU, 8GB of memory, 512GB SSD: $1,399/£1,449
Apple also sells the 13-inch MacBook Air M1 for the same $999/£999 as it cost when it launched in October 2020. It’s possible that Apple will discontinue the M1 MacBook Air while lowering the price of the M2 model to $999 when the M3 arrives.
The M3 13-inch MacBook Air will be available through the usual retail outlets once it goes on sale: the Apple Store, Amazon, and other popular retailers.
M3 MacBook Air: Design
When Apple released the M2 13-inch MacBook Air, it also gave it a complete redesign for the first time. It eliminated the tapered design and implemented a traditional look that’s similar to the 14-inch MacBook Pro.
Because this new design has been through only one generation of the Air, we don’t expect Apple to change much with the M3 upgrade. That’s fine because it’s already one of the thinnest and lightest you can buy:
15-inch MacBook AIr M2: 13.40 x 9.35 x 0.45in (34.04 x 23.76 x 1.15cm), 2.8 pounds (1.51kg)
13-inch MacBook Ai M2: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44in (30.41 x 21.5 x 1.13cm), 2.7 pounds (1.24kg)
13-inch MacBook Air M1: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.16-0.63in (30.41 x 21.24 x 0.41-1.61cm), 2.8 pounds (1.29kg)
M3 MacBook Air: Display
The M3 MacBook Air will likely use the same display as those on the M2 model. For the 13-inch MacBook Air Apple uses a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display with a 2,560-by-1,664 pixel resolution, a maximum brightness of 500 nits, P3 color support, and True Tone, a step up from the ones used in the M1 13-inch MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which use a 13.3-inch Retina displays with a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels. The M1 Air’s display brightness is 400 nits, while the 13-inch Pro is at 500 nits.
The M3 MacBook Air will also likely keep the notch at the top of the display for the 1080p FaceTime camera, which doesn’t interfere with the 16:10 aspect ratio of the screen area below it.
Apple will likely offer the M3 MacBook Air in the same four colours as the M2 model: Midnight, Silver, Space Gray, and Starlight. There have been rumours for years that Apple is planning to launch MacBook Air colors that match the iMac’s colourful enclosure, but they haven’t come to pass.
M3 MacBook Air: Specs
The specifications for the M3 chip have yet to be revealed or leaked, so we don’t know how many CPU or GPU cores it will have. Both the M1 and M2 have eight CPU cores, so the M3 will have at least eight. The M2 starts with 8 GPU cores and is configurable to 10, so it’s likely the M3 will follow suit or get more GPU cores.
The M3 chip is rumored to be manufactured using a new 3nm process. This allows for more transistors than compared to the enhanced 5nm process used with the M2. This could allow the M3 to be faster than the 20 percent boost we often see with a new generation of chips.
Both the M1 and M2 started with 8GB of unified memory, which is what we’ll probably see with the M3. The M2 is configurable to 24GB of memory, which could increase to 32GB with the M3.
The MacBook Air does not have any internal fans and we don’t expect that to change. While the fanless design may cause the M2 Air to slow down during CPU or GPU loads, however, the M3’s higher efficiency could help high-end performance.
The MacBook Air has two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports, a MagSafe 3 connector for a power adapter (the laptop can also be charged through Thunderbolt), and a headphone jack. If Apple adds more ports, it’s likely to just be an extra USB-C port.
The current Air has Wi-Fi 6 wireless connectivity. After Apple brought Wi-Fi 6E to the Mac mini and MacBook Pro, it’s likely to bring it to the next MacBook Air, too.
M3 MacBook Air: Battery and charging
The M2 13-inch MacBook Air has a 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery, while the 15-inch model offers a 66.5-watt-hour battery, and the upcoming M3 models will probably have the same size battery.
However, the M3 may be more power efficient than the M2, which could result in extended battery life. Currently, Apple rates its Air battery with “up to 18 hours Apple TV app movie playback, and “up to 15 hours wireless web,” and those numbers could be longer with the M3 Air.
For charging, we expect the same options as the current Air. The $1,099/£1,149 M2 13-inch MacBook Air includes a standard 30W USB-C Power Adapter. The $1,399/£1,449 model has a 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter for charging two devices at the same time. A USB-C to MagSafe 3 power cable is included with either model. The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air also support fast charging with a 70W USB-C Power Adapter.