Will there ever be a retina MacBook Air, or is the MBA line on death-row?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by saintforlife, Mar 12, 2015.

  1. saintforlife macrumors 65816

    Feb 25, 2011
    I have been wanting to upgrade from my 2010 MBA. It has by far been the best laptop I have ever owned. I was hoping for a retina MBA this year, but after the MacBook launch, it doesn't seem like it is happening now, or possibly ever.

    The size and lack of power make the MacBook a no go for me. I guess I will just wait for the Skylake 13" retina MacBook Pro later this year (although I am not looking forward to the reduced portability). Hopefully that will come with more than one USB port.
  2. CausticSoda macrumors 6502


    Feb 14, 2014
    Abu Dhabi
  3. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    When Apple made the retina versions of the 13" and 15" MacBooks, they shrunk 'em down and chopped off ports. To me, that's pretty much what the new MacBook is.

    I don't see how they could put a retina display in the current Air and maintain the battery life. On that note, I don't see them coming out with a new Air that has less battery life.

    To fix battery life, they could add more battery (and make the Air bigger and heavier), but I don't see them doing that, either.
  4. capathy21 macrumors 65816


    Jun 16, 2014
    Houston, Texas
    Naa chances are the Air is on its last leg as far as any future redesigns go. If they cared about making it part of the future of Apple notebooks, they would have made some modifications before this MB was announced.
  5. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I don't think there will be a retina air; that's what the new macbook is supposed to be. I expect the current air form factor to get at least one more upgrade (spec bump) because apple realizes that the new macbook is too radical for many people in terms of power and only having one port.

    But in a couple of processor generations, the Core M will get better, people will have had some time to adjust to the idea of no ports, and then they'll quietly kill the air line.
  6. newellj macrumors 604

    Oct 15, 2014
    East of Eden
    As a product line, the MBA is on death row, probably with all appeals exhausted. Apple just hasn't signed the death warrant yet.
  7. Beau10 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 6, 2008
    Downtown San Diego
    There is no more telling thing than the branding itself... when the original Macbook Air came out in 2008, it was the 'Air' variant of the Macbook.

    With this release Apple is reclaimig 'Macbook', and now it and the 'Air' have literally changed places. This to me signals that Apple has decided they want to sunset the branding... in light of the vast array of ultraportables out there, it no longer makes sense.
  8. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    I've said this in another thread, but: The MacBook Air continues to be the only mac notebook that is sub-$1000 in price point for its base model.

    Until Apple figures out how to make retina MacBooks at the sub-$1,000 level, there will be MacBook Airs. But, it won't get retina displays.
  9. entatlrg macrumors 68040


    Mar 2, 2009
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    No screen upgrade is an insult to all MacBook Air enthusiasts.

    Didn't have to be a retina screen upgrade but something ... iPS, higher res...

    Want change? Start a petition, take it to the Press, everyone email Apple, take it to the Apple forums, I'll help.
  10. newellj macrumors 604

    Oct 15, 2014
    East of Eden
    I would think it's clear that Apple needs a credible, attractive choice (or two) under $1K. How they plug that hole is a question. Continue entry level Air configurations? Continue the MBP at that price point? Move the price point of the entry rMB down after a year or possible two?
  11. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    How exactly would that have worked?

    If they just slapped in a retina display, it would have reduced the battery life.

    Then if they addressed the battery issue, they'd have a heavier/bigger machine.

    A new Air update that had less battery life or added weight wouldn't be insulting?
  12. newellj macrumors 604

    Oct 15, 2014
    East of Eden
    Well...post #9 says doesn't have to be retina, 1080p would be ok...but 1080p is truly just a marketing ploy, at least on the 13"...would have been more significant on the 11"...but would have affected runtime, as you say...dunno. Damned if you do, damned if you don't?
  13. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I guess.

    Personally, I think the forums would have blown up even more if Apple tried to put a new screen in the Air and call it upgraded, if that screen wasn't retina. :)
  14. mtneer macrumors 68030


    Sep 15, 2012
    The MBA is on probably on its way out. The rMB and the rMBP's will suck all the industrial design oxygen out leaving the Air to totter around with a spec update or two and maybe even attain Apple's zombie status like the cMBP, the iPod line and even the rMini iPad.
  15. iMacmatician macrumors 601

    Jul 20, 2008
    The MacBook Air starts at 4 GB and 128 GB while the MacBook starts at 8 GB and 256 GB. I think Apple could slowly drop the price of the MacBook over time while keeping the 8/256 base configuration (until 8/256 becomes the new 4/128).

    I also think the MacBook Air will remain as long as the MacBook starts above $899.
  16. Abbara macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2014
    I don't know... the air lineup is pretty bulky, contrary to popular perception (including mine). Its thickest point isn't that thin and the 13' MBA is bigger in the other two dimensions than the MBP lineup (!).

    Now consider
    1) efficiency improvements in the CPU (and its integrated GPU).
    2) More space with new keyboard (less travel, butterfly switches)
    3) More space with new trackpad (no actual click or travel, but magnets)
    4) Improvements in battery tech

    It wouldn't be any bigger. You just take the size improvements from the new Macbook, but use them for extra battery instead of extra thinness, and keep the bigger form factor of the air 13' over literally every other current non-15' Macbook.

    I'd say they should get at least say 90% of their battery life. Maybe not 12h, but 11h instead. But retina, and with a new CPU, with 2 USB-C ports.

    Do I think it'll happen? Absolutely not. I was really surprised they didn't name the 12' an 'Air', but when they did, I pretty much thought that the air was doomed. There's no way they're going to come out with an Air next year that's thinner and lighter than the new Macbook (only way to let the 'Air' name make sense), yet isn't a gigantic step back in terms of performance and battery from the current Air lineup.

    And making a 13' Retina MBA with the new trackpad, keyboard, retina and usb-c, would kill the 12' in its tracks. It just wouldn't make much sense. Hell it'd be way too close to the rMBP lineup, too.

    I wouldn't be surprised if we'd end up with a hugely simplified lineup. A 12' Macbook, a 14' Macbook and a 14' MBP. The 12" and 14" were never very feasible sizes, but now that we have full-width keyboards and thinning bezels, it's possible to fit 12" and 14" into the same space of the previous 11"/13". Might even see a 16" MBP the same size of the current 15". These numbers sound pretty silly and crazy, but 12" wasn't ever popular either, until bezels got so thin it makes a lot of sense to fit 12" screens in a smaller space.

    Meanwhile the Air wouldn't get updated in 2016 when the new lineup launches, would die out by 2017. Without a retina, new touchpad, thick bezels, support would shift to the MB and MBP. As the MB gets CPU updates it'll also get cheaper, while sustaining an 8gb/256gb base model that will become cheaper than that config on the MBA, leaving the MBA without updates, retina, touchpad, thinness and great value. While the latter MBP will get big performance improvements leaving the MBA wanting for serious work.

    The MBA has gotten a bit too close to the MBP lately, used as a med-level developer/photo-editor machine, blurring the line between consumer and professional and providing too much value. A low-power Intel Core M for consumer-users and a heavy duty MBP for professional users is much better fit. The former is extremely portable, the latter is extremely powerful for a laptop form factor. You can optimize the hell out of those two objectives and really compete with competitor laptops in those two segments.

    Anyway just wild speculation of course :)

    Really though, once you add one more USB-C port to the MB, once every monitor for sale uses USB-C, once the MB gets a $100-200 price drop (MBA in 2007 was $1800 for example!), once the MB gets a 14' version the same dimensions as the MBA 13', with continuous updates to the Intel Core M to improve performance and battery life... there's just no way people will continue to buy a MBA.
  17. cycledance Suspended

    Oct 15, 2010
    i think the mb will soon add a 14" model with more ports which might also be a little stronger. hopefully not a core-m processor.
  18. bhayes444 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2013
    I don't really think so. That would make the 13" rMBP a bit of an odd duck considering it would be a pro machine with a smaller screen size than a non pro machine (something Apple doesn't seem to have ever done). Plus, keeping the pro machine with all the ports helps differentiate it from the non pro machine. Also, with the fanless design, it would be hard to fit a processor in the MacBook that isn't a core-M right now. Maybe with further processor enhancements, and a couple of years that might happen. The core i5 in the 13" rMBP would fry in the new MacBook; even with a 14" screen body size. Heck, the core i5 in the Air would fry in that machine as well.

    Also, the MacBook has generally been the cheapest offering Apple has to offer. I think they will eventually kill off the Air and have the MacBook reclaim it's place. Plus, it was odd to me when they killed off the MacBook line, but kept the named variants of it (Air and Pro).
  19. helloshirosan macrumors member


    Jan 12, 2014
    Here's my 2 cents

    Simply put the Macbook Air isn't one death row. Look at it as line with a business sense point of view. The mac mini is apple entry level to desktop computers. The Macbook Air is their entry level into laptops. The new Macbook is a niche category for Business Travel individuals. If a consumers want a laptop with retina desktop, Apple offers that with their Pro line. If a consumer wants a laptop from apple but can't quite afford the Pro price, there's the Macbook Air line. If a consumer wants ultra portability and doesn't need all the ports that the other laptops offer, then there is the New Macbook. I know everyone wants the perfect Macbook that is light like the Macbook Air and has all the bells and whistles of a Macbook Pro, but that will likely never happen because that's not good business sense for Apple. They are in it to make profit so they would not compromise that.

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18 March 12, 2015