Apple preps production of updated MacBook Air for a 2018 launch

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A new rumor may give more support to Apple’s rumored plans of launching a low-cost notebook before the year’s over. Whether the Mac laptop will replace Apple’s aging MacBook Air or slot in as a new member of Apple’s MacBook or MacBook Pro lines isn’t entirely clear at this point, but a new report from DigiTimes suggests that Quanta will be manufacturing the least-expensive notebook in Apple’s laptop lineup. Manufacturing should commence in the fourth quarter, and the laptop could launch in September or October, according to MacRumors.

The timeline matches an earlier Apple product road map provided by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a reliable source of Apple news and rumors in the past. Apple’s inexpensive laptop is expected to slot in at under $1,000, similar to what Apple charges for the MacBook Air today. Rumored features such as an update to Intel’s 8th-Gen processors and a Retina display mean that this would be the most significant upgrade to the platform in many years if this laptop gets branded as a MacBook Air. The current MacBook Air relies on Intel’s fifth-generation Broadwell chip architecture, so an update to an eighth-gen processor would give the new Air a major power boost.

Along with the MacBook Air, Apple is also rumored to update the rest of its Mac lineup. Apple is expected to update its MacBook, iMac, and Mac Mini this year. The company had quietly updated its MacBook Pro to Intel’s eighth-generation processor earlier this year, and it announced that a newly designed Mac Pro would not be ready until next year. The MacBook Pro refresh also introduced a new third-generation keyboard using Apple’s butterfly key switch. In addition to a quieter typing experience, the new keyboard also brought some under-the-hood design changes to help prevent some of the widely reported keyboard problems experienced by owners of previous generation laptop models.

Earlier reports indicate that Apple could launch its new smartphone models in September and reserve its computing products for an October event. Apple could also choose to quietly launch its refreshed Mac lineup without a media event, similar to how it debuted the new MacBook Pro laptops.

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