The MacBook Air is Apple’s most popular laptop, and for good reason. It’s thin and light, performs very well, and is the most affordable laptop Apple sells.
At the end of 2020, it got its first major revision in a long time as one of the first Mac models to be powered by Apple Silicon. The M1 MacBook Air is a fantastic laptop—but is there a better one on the way? Is this a good time to buy it, or should you try to hold on a little longer? Here’s what we know about the next MacBook Air and our buying recommendation.
MacBook Air: Pricing and specs
Released: November 2020
Late in 2020, Apple updated the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini with its new M1 processor. We love the M1 MacBook Air and think the performance and battery life are phenomenal.
That said, the only thing Apple did was replace the Intel processor with its own Apple Silicon. The M1 Air has the same lackluster webcam (though with much better processing), the same silver clamshell aluminum body, the same keyboard, the same paltry USB-C ports…even the battery size is the same. Apple just gets more life out of it with its extremely efficient processor.
It’s a great system at a reasonable price, but we’re looking forward to an eventual design change—especially slimmer bezels around the display and a better webcam.
MacBook Air: Why you should buy
The M1 MacBook Air is a big upgrade over the previous Intel-based model. While most of the laptop is the same (the size and shape, weight, keyboard, ports, display, etc.), the performance and battery life delivered by Apple’s M1 chip is a really big deal.
We do expect an updated MacBook Air with a new design (and maybe new features like a mini-LED display or improved camera), but the latest rumors say that’s not coming until sometime in 2022. Even if it lands in 2021, it’s almost certainly not going to be until near the end of the year.
MacBook Air: Why you should wait
As good as that M1 chip is, the rest of the MacBook Air is getting a little long in the tooth and in need of an upgrade. The next MacBook Air is rumored to have a new, or at least updated, design. It should also have an even better M2 chip. And with a new design may come new features, like a mini-LED backlight and slimmer bezels, color options like with the new 24-inch iMac, an improved webcam, and more.
You’ll likely be waiting until 2022 for a new MacBook Air, but if you aren’t in desperate need of a new Mac right now, you’ll probably be happy you waited.
Macworld recommends: BUY
The new MacBook Air should be a really hot item, as it’s rumored to be the first real design change for the laptop in years. But it’s not exactly imminent, and the M1 processor in the current MacBook Air makes this one of the best thin-and-light laptops you can buy. Now that it’s not brand new, it’s often on sale, too.
You can get one from Apple starting at $999, but it’s not unusual to see it for up to $150 less on Amazon. Since you can’t expand the memory or storage, we recommend springing for the $1249 model that has a 512GB SSD and an 8-core GPU (instead of 7-core). That model is $1099 on Amazon at the time of this writing.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.