I think I know why Apple didn't make Retina Display MBAs

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by iSayuSay, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    Yesterday was a great day for most Apple product line (except maybe MacPro for getting measly update, or iMac and MacMini which had to wait a little longer for updates)

    But I wondered for some time, why would Apple get Retina Display only for 15" MBP?
    I mean Retina Display is not really really expensive, the new iPad could have it without any price increase? So why not share the same love for 13" MBP or even MBA lines?

    IMO, Apple is trying to protect iPad for being cannibalized to the portable Macbook, especially MBA.
    Many people ask over and over "Should I get an iPad or MBA ?" Well I must admit, the most overwhelming upgrade of the new iPad is the display. Who cares about A5X and extra RAM? iPad 2 still good enough for most apps, contents ... And ironically yet still bad enough for real computer apps. But main selling point is Retina Display, and so did Apple repeat the history with 15" Retina MBP.

    If Apple indeed implement RD to 13" MBP and all new MBA lines, it would kill the iPad charm. I mean why would you get an iPad while MBA share the same crispness? It's equally portable, fun to use, and MBA has keyboard included :D
    Maybe it's LTE chip? Well 3G/4G USB modem is not that expensive, and you can always tether your phone for that purpose.

    And also not to mention MBA is a "real" computer that can do the job done .. quick and fast .. It has Angry Birds and Cut The Rope just as an iPad has if you count in the fun factor.. It can run fully functional Office, iWork, Photoshop and all.
    So iPad would lose all its charm ... I think that's why.

    So .. how about you? What do you think Apple didn't sell RD MBA or 13" MBP?
  2. dgdosen macrumors 65816


    Dec 13, 2003
    I think you're close.

    I think if people saw a retina 13" (or 11") most would prefer smaller and lighter compared to what's becoming a 15" albatross. I think they're protecting the 15" market, at least for now, while no there's no competition.
  3. schlitter22 macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2012
    I think it makes sense.

    In my case though, I use an iPad for textbooks and such, and I still plan on buying a macbook air. A MBA just doesn't give the same feel for reading that an iPad does, which is why a MBA could never replace it for me.
  4. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth

    The Retina screen is likely over a hundred dollars more than the standard screen which could correlate to a $300 price increase using standard retail markup. That's not going to fly for a laptop that needs to be at the thousand dollar price point.
  5. Southernboyj macrumors 68000


    Mar 8, 2012
    Mobile, AL
    I agree, I still think Apple will probably include it next year. They tend to hold things back a year later sometimes. (VGA in 2011 MBA, still VGA in all iPad and iPhones on the front, USB 2.0 in 2011)


    Keep in mind, they still kept the current MBP line, they could of also kept the current MBA line and made a version of MBA with Retina for $1499-$1799ish.
  6. PeterJP macrumors 6502


    Feb 2, 2012
    Leuven, Belgium
    Hmm, possible. Other ideas come up in the thread, like protecting the new MBP Retina: if I can get nearly as high a resolution in a much more portable package, why wouldn't I go that route ?

    But for me, the main reason is technical. After removing the ODD, Apple had plenty of space for a decent battery in the MBP Retina. There is no such extra space to free in MBAs. In the iPad, the battery also doubled. So either battery technology just isn't ready to double the capacity in the same space, or Apple wants to wait until there's an established base of iPad and MBP Retina users before launching the next line of Retina notebooks.

  7. iSayuSay thread starter macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    Hmm but Apple could keep the price point of an iPad .. I don't really think RD is that expensive. Well maybe yes it's $100 extra cost to the customer for laptop display. But SSD, RAM are getting cheaper too, so that would even out.

    I don't think cost difference would matter to the final pricing. It's still about keeping the exclusivity small screen RD to iPad, and semi gigantic RD for super expensive 15 inchers. Anything in between would risk iPad sales.

    And the world is in rage with iPad .. :D
  8. Comeagain? macrumors 68020


    Feb 17, 2011
    Spokane, WA
    It's most likely a technical reason. It takes a much larger battery and much more powerful processors to drive those screens. Things that they are pushing with the 15" that has much better cooling, and more room for battery then a 13" device. A selling point of Apple laptops are the long(ish) battery life, and no real need of external cooling devices.
  9. jsolares macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Land of eternal Spring
    Also keep in mind that the 13" MBA with retina would also have a 2880x1800 screen like the 15" retina because apple is love with doubling pixels.

    Also even if the MBPR ditches the screen over the LCD, the display is thicker than the one in the MBA, so the retina MBA would also need to be thicker and have less battery life, or lose the taper to keep a decent sized volume for a bigger batter as well.

    Look at the MBPR next to an MBA they're pretty much the same thickness at their thickest part, but when opened up the MBA is thicker at the rear.
  10. jgbr macrumors 6502a

    Sep 14, 2007
    Was also some discussion about retinas being slightly thicker and requiring more battery power. This would work against MBA ethos.

    However I find the 13inch MBA fans moaning more then the 11inch as I believe the higher resolution in the 11inch makes the DPI/PPI near enough retina.

    Have a look at an 11 next time from
    Average viewing distance and see what I mean!
  11. GfPQqmcRKUvP macrumors 68040


    Sep 29, 2005
    I think you're way off here.
  12. iSayuSay thread starter macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    Okay .. maybe I underestimate a bit the cost of Retina Display. But hey .. 15" RMBP is an option. You still can get a regular 15" MBP for what matters. Could've done the same for MBAs or 13" MBP if Apple really mean it.
  13. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    The iPad and the iPhone managed to do it without a price increase...
  14. PeterJP macrumors 6502


    Feb 2, 2012
    Leuven, Belgium
    You still haven't reacted to any of us telling you that it's hard to see how Apple could've fit a big enough battery in an MBA. Comparing the 15" MBP vs MBPR, the battery is almost 30% bigger. With the iPad, it's 70% bigger. The MBA's non-display hardware (processors, SSDs, ...) being somewhere halfway between the iPad and the MBP, let's keep it simple and say that battery should be 50% bigger than the current ones. So that's a 50Wh/75Wh battery (for 11"/13" MBA). So the 11" needs to be fit with the battery of the MBA 13". And the MBA 13" needs to be fit with the battery of the MBP (non-retina) 15".

    Good luck with that.

  15. n8236 macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2006
    I actually think it's more about competitive pricing, practicality, battery life, exclusivity and profits.

    Slapping on an additional $100-$150 to the Air would make it uncompetitive to its nearest rivals.

    Those who actually use the retina display will need complementing CPU/GPU power to put it to use. And since the Air doesn't command that kind of juice, it would make the retina display unpractical from a professional working standpoint.

    I'm not certain how much more power consumption these new retina displays eat up, but if they eat up more than the regular displays...given the same Air form factor, you're effectively taking away battery life. And the Air can't have that because it's made for longevity/thinness.

    MBAs and MBPs have always had their own bit of limelight in each release. Apple has a tradition of trickling down their bits and pieces of new techs to their sibling product lines. Had the MBA gotten the retina display, it doesn't leave much for the next big MBA release or refresh.

    Lastly, profits. Slap the fanciest stuff on one of your most expensive lines and u make the biggest $ margins. MBP users are not MBA users. Those who purchase the MBP will fork over the cash and not likely think twice about dropping the Benjamins for the latest techy stuff.
  16. KohPhiPhi macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2011
    This is the correct answer as of why 13" laptops are not retina yet.
  17. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    The HD 4000 is just not man enough for a resolution like that and neither is the battery.
  18. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000


    Aug 7, 2011
    Liverpool, UK
    Or sacrifice battery life which would be a deal breaker for many business users. Besides, the current MBA display is quasi-retina (whateve retina means)

    Is that strictly speaking true? I read else-where that it would be perfectly adequate but don't have the technical expertise to work it out myself

    I agree wit your battery point but not on price, when has apple really worried about competitive pricing? Besides, the could have issued retina as a BTO option and left the bottom end stuff (including the educationa stockl MBA) well alone on price
  19. Json81 macrumors regular

    Jan 9, 2012
    In addition to what's suggested I think availability of screens might be an issue as well.
  20. Halon X macrumors regular

    Sep 22, 2005
    Malibu, CA
    iPad and Macbook Air are two different products with very distinct and different uses!

    Yes, there is some overlap but it's kind of like comparing a Pickup to a Sedan and worrying that the increased trunk size in a new model Sedan will impact Pickup sales!
  21. Beanoir macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2010
    51 degrees North
    I think it's about protecting the MBPs and keeping them a notch above in terms of spec, as they should be really.
  22. Monkeyat macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2009
    Just thinking and calculating...

    A MacBook Air 11" Retina display will signify a resolution of 2260 X 1200 against the current 1366 X 768. The question is : will we notice the difference in a 11" screen with a 95in eyes distance from it ?
  23. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    Retina displays across the entire line will occur, it's just a matter of time. For now the Retina MBP is the "halo" product.

    I think the challenge with the Air is the tapered design doesn't leave much room for the larger battery that's required. We may see a new 13" pro first with retina display, following the same thinner redesign.
  24. Virinprew macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2012
    Retina on MBA will follow. But after the price goes down.

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