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The next MacBook Air could come with a major disappointment

It’s something of an open secret that Apple is working on a couple of fresh MacBook Air models, including an all-new 15-inch MacBook Air. Many details about these devices have been shrouded in mystery, but a prominent analyst has just shed some much-needed light on them — and it’s not all good news.

Posting on Twitter, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo updated his previous predictions for Apple’s lightweight laptop. In the new post, Kuo outlined a slate of ideas for what could be coming next.

A MacBook Air on a desk with an open book in front of it.

The most disappointing news concerned the chip the next MacBook Air will be powered by. Previously, there was plenty of speculation that the high-end 15-inch model could be outfitted with an M2 Pro chip, giving it a welcome power boost compared to the smaller 13-inch version.

However, Kuo seems to have abandoned this idea, stating that “the upcoming 15-inch MacBook Air will feature the M2 series and offer two processor spec options. However, two options are more likely to be M2 with different cores (similar to the M2 13-inch MacBook Air).”

In other words, the 15-inch MacBook Air is likely to go without the M2 Pro, instead offering two different M2 configuration options.

That’s a little disheartening. When Apple has previously released a laptop in two different sizes, the larger model has often had more powerful processor options (for example, the 16-inch MacBook Pro compared to its 14-inch sibling). Yet perhaps Apple is worried the 15-inch MacBook Air will cannibalize the MacBook Pro if it comes with too strong a chip inside, hence the more limited options.

The M3 on the horizon

The MacBook Air on a table in front of a window.

Kuo also had a few words for the upcoming M3 chip. It will reportedly enter mass production in the second half of 2023, “slightly ahead of the M3 Pro and M3 Max.” The M3 is expected to be Apple’s first 3-nanometer Mac chip, which could bring significant performance improvements when it launches in the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini.

However, that implies the M2 in the next MacBook Air laptops will be made using the existing 5nm process, meaning a much smaller performance boost than had been rumored.

The M3 Pro and M3 Max, meanwhile, are destined for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, which Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman believes will probably arrive in the first half of 2024.

Elsewhere, Kuo confirmed that the 15-inch laptop would indeed bear the full “MacBook Air” title. Kuo had previously speculated that it might not bear the “Air” name, but the analyst seems to have backtracked on that idea now.

Kuo reckons the 15-inch MacBook Air will go on sale at some point in 2023 and will ship 5 million to 6 million units. With M3-equipped Macs likely to go on sale in early 2024, that suggests the 15-inch MacBook Air could launch sooner rather than later — which lines up neatly with rumors that have placed its launch at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5. Better mark your calendar.

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