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Roundup Laptops

MacBook Air 2018: All the rumors on specs, price and Touch ID possibilities for October

A no-show at Apple's September event, we look to October for the rumored MacBook Air redesign.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple announced lots of new products today at its Circle Round event -- including three new iPhones and the Apple Watch 4 -- but made no mention of a new MacBook. Sigh.

Read: What we didn't get from Apple today

But that may actually be an indicator that the long-rumored inexpensive Mac notebook is just over the horizon. Multiple credible sources have reported that Apple plans to introduce a brand-new, redesigned MacBook Air before the end of 2018.

If true, it will bring to an era of incremental updates for Apple's "budget" laptop -- which today remains more or less the same device Apple introduced in fall of 2010. The current 13-inch MacBook Air, released in August 2017, is nearly identical to its 2015 predecessor save for a microboost in the speed of its antiquated Intel CPU and a belated doubling of RAM. Suffice to say: A major makeover is way overdue. But for now, the same old MacBook Air remains in Apple's lineup with the same old starting price of $999.

We'll continue to collect all the rumors and published reports circulating about the forthcoming price, specs, features and design of the next MacBook Air equivalent. (Apple hasn't announced anything officially, and did not respond to our request for a comment.) This roundup will be updated on an ongoing basis, so check back often to see breaking news and details about the 2018 MacBook Air. 

Editors' note, Sept. 12: This post was originally published on May 4 and will continue to be updated with news and rumors on the 2018 MacBook Air.  

Rumor: A new MacBook coming in October

A Sept. 12 debut was always a longshot -- Apple has never unveiled MacBooks in September before. Today's no-show could be interpreted as additional evidence that the company is holding back a big announcement for a separate event in October -- or later this year. Or perhaps not. Remember: these are all rumors.

Still, given the new MacBook rumor's persistence -- and the level of detail we've seen in recent days -- October is a real possibility. And it's a month during which Apple has often debuted new Macs. Such an event could also be used to introduce new iMacs and an updated Mac Mini.

Rumor: Support for Touch ID

Amidst a slew of predictions published recently by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (as reported by Macrumors), is that the new "lower-priced" MacBook will have Touch ID -- the fingerprint authentication system that first debuted on the iPhone 5S in 2013. Touch ID first migrated to the higher-end MacBook Pro lineup in 2016 and is featured on the newest models debuted in June

16-apple-macbook-pro-15-inch-2018
Sarah Tew/CNET

Rumor: A 12-inch model?

Kuo's most recent report muddies the water about the size of the forthcoming MacBook; though his wording is ambiguous, he seems to suggest that Apple may replace the current 12-inch MacBook with a new model. This conflicts with previous reports -- including a DigiTimes article describing Apple's plans to debut a new 13-inch model during the first half of 2018 and Bloomberg's recent report describing a low-cost device that would "remain about 13-inches." 

Rumor: Retina Display, finally

Bloomberg reports that Apple plans to update that "low-cost" MacBook with a high-resolution Retina screen. This bolsters an earlier report by DigiTimes that describes a new MacBook with a "slim design" and a Retina display in addition to a contemporary Intel CPU; the newest Bloomberg information also suggests that the new model will have slimmer bezels. It's hard to imagine Apple unveiling a new MacBook Air equivalent that doesn't have all of this, at a minimum.

macbook-pro-15-inch-2017-with-touchbar-59.jpg

The MacBook Pro's high-quality Retina Display and Touch Bar.

Sarah Tew/CNET





Price: Still under $1,000?

Bloomberg reported in March that a "new, cheaper MacBook laptop is in the works and likely destined to replace the MacBook Air at a price less than $1,000." Likewise, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the 2018 model will be even "more affordable" than the current MacBook Air. More recently, however, DigiTimes reported that Apple has developed a new "entry-level" MacBook that will run a new Intel CPU and will cost $1,200.

The current entry-level MacBook Air, with 128GB of hard-drive capacity, starts at $999, £949 or AU$1,499. The 256GB version costs $1,199. Third-party retailers now routinely discount the Air to $750 or $800, and its low price is key to its popularity.

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