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Apple to add Retina display to MacBook Air next quarter -- report

The company's suppliers have already started mass production of a 12-inch, high-resolution MacBook Air, says the Wall Street Journal.

Will the MacBook Air finally go Retina? CNET

Will Apple finally unveil a long-awaited MacBook Air with a Retina display? That's what a new report claims.

Earlier this year, Apple suppliers kicked off mass production of a 12-inch MacBook Air with a higher-resolution display, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing "people familiar with the matter." The suppliers are aiming to ship "large quantities" of the new Air sometime in the second quarter, though an exact launch date is still up in the air, the sources said.

Apple already offers Retina displays on the pricier MacBook Pro, which carries a resolution of 2,560x1,600 pixels for the 13.3-inch version and 2,880x1,800 pixels for the 15-inch model. The current Air is still stuck with a resolution of 1,366x768 for the 11-inch model and 1,440x900 for the 13-inch version . Reports have floated about for some time that Apple would adopt the higher-resolution display for the Air, which was last updated almost a year ago.

Assuming the Journal's sources are on the money, what does a Retina display offer?

Apple touts its MacBook Pro with a Retina display as packing four times the number of pixels of the standard display and enabling "incredible detail." Apple has also touted Retina displays as offering higher contrast, deeper blacks, reduced glare and a wider viewing angle. All the applications included with the latest versions of Mac OS X already support the higher resolution

The company may also be trying to keep up with its competitors. More Windows PC vendors are outfitting their ultrabooks with high-resolution displays and price tags lower than that of the Air. Adding a Retina display to the MacBook Air could help Apple lure more buyers from its rivals.

A 12-inch MacBook Air would add a third product to the Air lineup. Typically Apple offers two screen sizes on its products. So if the company does introduce the 12-incher, it may eventually jettison either the 11-inch or the 13-inch model.

When might we learn more about this rumored Air? Apple will host a launch event on Monday in which it is expected to unveil the Apple Watch. But other products are reportedly on the launch agenda, including a refreshed MacBook Air.

Tune into CNET's live blog and show starting at 9 a.m. PT Monday to see whether an updaetd MacBook Air takes the stage.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.