Apple summarily got rid of the 12-inch MacBook in 2019. Despite being one of Apple’s boldest products in recent years, it ultimately failed to make the impact the company was hoping for. But rumors have been circulating for some time that there could be a spectacular return.
If true, it would be a comeback for the ages. So what can we expect? Will the new model be like the original 12-inch MacBook or will it take a new direction? We’ve rounded up all the news and rumors in this post to keep you in the loop.
For now, it looks like the 12-inch MacBook is a long way from release. Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, one of the strongest supporters of the 12-inch MacBook revival idea, says the device is “still in early development” and likely won’t see the light of day until late 2023 or early 2024.
However, other prominent analysts are more skeptical. Display industry expert Ross Young and veteran Apple tipster Ming-Chi Kuo both reportedly checked their sources and got nothing. For his part, Young said, “Apple’s strategy for notebooks right now is 13″ and larger. Nothing is known about companies in the MacBook Pro display supply chain that we spoke to [the 12-inch MacBook].”
It could be that the sources Young and Kuo spoke to weren’t aware of the device simply because it’s so early in the development process and the manufacturers weren’t told about it as a result. Or it could be that Gurman got the release date wrong. Only time can tell.
As far as pricing is concerned, it remains unknown at this point. The 2015 12-inch MacBook had an introductory price of $1,299, but it’s possible the revived version could cost more given Apple’s recent hike in laptop prices. Apple also needs to think about how such a laptop fits into its already full lineup, which includes both the M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro.
Recently, Apple has moved towards bringing its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines together in terms of visual design, with both laptops adopting similar flat-edged designs. So we think it’s likely that the 12-inch MacBook will follow suit.
Its design will likely depend heavily on which MacBook family it belongs to. Will it be a scaled down MacBook Air and inherit that device’s design language, or will it be in a slightly chunkier form factor similar to the MacBook Pro? Or will it instead sit in its own MacBook line and therefore look a little different? This is unknown for the time being.
The original 12-inch MacBook was used as a pioneering device. It was revolutionary in many ways, leading to many of its features and design elements appearing in other MacBooks. That torch seems to have shifted to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air these days, but who knows? Maybe Apple is ready for something completely new when a new 12-inch MacBook comes out.
The performance of the 2015 12-inch MacBook was disappointing. Because it used such a tiny package, it had to use an Intel M-series chip, which couldn’t do much more than surf the web and send emails. Things have changed tremendously since then, however, as Apple silicon means so much more is possible.
We expect that the 12-inch MacBook’s Apple silicon chip will make it much more powerful than before. It won’t be at the level of the MacBook Pro, of course, as it’ll target a very different audience, but it certainly won’t be anything to snoop on.
But there is another possibility. Apple leaker Majin Bu has claimed on Twitter that the laptop could be part of the MacBook Pro range and come with an M2 Pro or M2 Max chip. However, Majin Bu has a mixed track record, and we think that claim is a bit unlikely.
For one, if Gurman’s late 2023 or early 2024 release schedule is correct, that would likely fall into the M3 Pro/Max release cycle, not the M2 series. Additionally, the 12-inch MacBook has always been positioned as a lightweight device that’s prepared for travel, rather than the intense tasks that Apple’s Pro and Max chips are designed for. Despite this, Majin Bu has been correct in the past, so we cannot completely rule out this claim.
Given that the MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook are likely to be advertised as lightweight laptops perfect for users on the go, we wouldn’t be surprised if they both ended up being fanless and quiet in operation. Given the small size of the case, it’s possible Apple wouldn’t be able to fit a fan there even if it wanted to.
The 2015 12-inch MacBook became notorious for having only one port – a single USB-C slot that handled both data and power and helped usher in the USB-C era. Given that ports take up space on motherboards – and given how small the 12-inch MacBook’s motherboard is likely to be – it wouldn’t be a shock to see Apple repeat that trick this time around.
However, there is a chance that it will also come with MagSafe as this has made a comeback in recent devices. That’s just speculation at the moment.
There’s one last possibility: it could come with the butterfly keyboard. Apple equipped the 2015 12-inch MacBook with this split keyboard in part because it was so thin and helped slim the device down so it would make sense when it came back. After all, Apple’s Phil Schiller has previously claimed The company is still working on this keyboard. Still, it would be a controversial move, especially considering how good the current Magic Keyboard is.
The original 12-inch MacBook was expensive for what it offered, partly because it was so experimental and different from anything Apple was offering at the time. So it wouldn’t surprise us if the new 12-inch MacBook also cut back on the equipment. Still, there are some other things we’d like to see.
First up is a decent webcam. Apple has started upgrading its laptops to 1080p webcams, but the company may be tempted to only add a 720p camera to the 12-inch MacBook. That would be disappointing as it’s likely to be used by a lot of people on the go where quality of video calls is important.
We’re also hoping that Apple will add more than one USB-C port to the laptop, as one just isn’t enough these days. This means you have to unplug your charging cable to connect a peripheral, for example, which is simply inconvenient.
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