2023 is barely underway, yet whispers of Apple’s next major MacBook Air refresh coming in 2024 have already begun circulating. According to the latest leaks and rumors, the next MacBook Air model will run Apple’s as-yet-unannounced M3 chip to deliver significant performance and efficiency improvements.
This new M3-powered MacBook Air for 2024 is shaping up to be an enticing upgrade that builds upon the success of the current M2 model. In this in-depth preview, we’ll highlight all the changes, upgrades, specs, pricing, and release expectations rumored so far for the next MacBook Air based on early intel.
Design: A Refined and Recognizable Aesthetic
Don’t expect a radical redesign with the 2024 MacBook Air. Most leaks suggest Apple will retain the current model’s slick, tapered chassis and thin profile. The overall dimensions and aluminum unibody construction will likely remain largely similar.
But a few refinements could bring subtle design enhancements:
- New color options to complement Space Gray and Silver
- Slimmer screen bezels for more display real estate
- Shift to squared-off edges compared to rounded sides
- Revised hinge for improved screen stability
- Possible return of MagSafe charging connector
While staying visually familiar, these changes could give the M3 Air a touch more polish. But dramatic changes seem unlikely following the complete 2022 redesign.
Display: Mini-LED Rumors Persist
The current 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display on the MacBook Air is already excellent: 2560×1664 resolution, 500 nit brightness, wide P3 color gamut support, and slim bezels.
Leakers suggest the 2024 model will stick with an overall similar 13-inch screen size and specs. But rumors of a potential mini-LED panel upgrade persist:
Benefits of Mini-LED
- Even higher peak brightness exceeding 1000 nits
- Increased contrast ratios for deeper blacks
- Improved power efficiency for battery life gains
Drawbacks of Mini-LED
- Added cost and manufacturing complexity
- Potentially reduced availability if supplies are constrained
A move to mini-LED seems plausible but not certain. It would bring benefits like the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models but could drive up pricing. The current LCD is still excellent for the Air’s needs if Apple wants to retain affordability.
Apple M3 Chip: Leaps in Speed and Power Efficiency
The star of the 2024 MacBook Air will undoubtedly be Apple’s next-generation M3 silicon successor to the already blazing fast M2 chip.
While details remain limited this early, a smaller 3nm manufacturing process could enable major improvements:
- Up to 12 CPU cores (vs 8 core M2)
- Up to 20 GPU cores (vs 10 core M2)
- 15-20% faster CPU and graphics speeds
- 30% power efficiency gains
The expanded cores and process refinements will squeeze far more performance and battery life out of an ultraportable form. This keeps the Air competitive for demanding workflows like creative editing, gaming, compiling code, and more.
Other Expected Specs and Hardware
Beyond the anticipated design, display, and M3 chip updates, a few other spec changes are rumored:
- At least 16GB to 32GB memory configurations
- Up to 4TB of SSD storage
- New high-speed Thunderbolt ports
- Wi-Fi 6E wireless connectivity
- 1080p webcam with Center Stage support
- Enhanced four-speaker sound system
- Touch ID fingerprint sensor in keyboard
Core hardware basics like the excellent Magic Keyboard, Force Touch trackpad, and Touch ID sensor seem likely to carry over from the current generation. But improved ports, sensors, mics, and speakers will bring everything up to cutting-edge standards.
macOS 14 and Software Compatibility
The 2024 MacBook Air will undoubtedly ship with macOS 14, previewed annually at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference.
While specific macOS 14 features are pure speculation this early, we can expect:
- Tight integration with Apple silicon capabilities
- optimizations boosting M3 performance
- Continued ecosystem alignment between Mac, iPhone, and iPad
- More fluid cross-device connectivity and continuity
- Focus on power efficiency, security, and privacy
Apple’s yearly macOS release will ensure day-one software support to maximize the capabilities of new M3 MacBook Airs.
Possible Pricing: Still Starts Around $999
Pricing for the next-gen M3 MacBook Air largely depends on if it retains the current LCD display or jumps to pricier mini-LED technology:
With LCD pricing:
- Around $999 starting price unchanged
- Up to $1,499 for higher storage tiers
With mini-LED pricing:
- Potential $1,099 entry price
- Up to $1,699 for max specs
The current model inspiration points to competitive mainstream pricing, especially for education. But a premium display could drive prices higher into MacBook Pro range.
Estimated Release Date: Fall 2024 Window
Apple seldom diverges from yearly MacBook update cycles, suggesting the M3 MacBook Air will land in 2024.
The iPhone event in September is a safe bet for initial unveiling, with retail availability either late September or sometime in October or November.
This would continue the 12-14 month update cadence for major MacBook releases we’ve seen in past years as well.
Conclusion: An Evolution of Apple’s Most Popular MacBook
While details will evolve, the early rumors paint the picture of a compelling but familiar update emphasizing Apple silicon advancements.
For prospective buyers due for an upgrade, the 2024 model promises noticeable leaps thanks to rapid chip progress. But those recently purchasing an M1 or M2 model rest assured those remain excellent devices with many great years ahead given Apple’s lengthy Mac support.
Some may prefer to wait on more revolutionary concepts like touchscreens or cellular connectivity. But for many, the reliable formula of slimmer design, better performance and an overall refined experience will keep the MacBook Air a versatile crowd-pleaser.
Between its winning lightweight design and Apple’s relentless innovation on Apple silicon, the MacBook Air franchise shows no signs of relinquishing its title as Apple’s most popular Mac. The M3 chapter aims to only extend its lead.