Sunday, July 21, 2024

15 years later, the MacBook Air could soon have its best year ever

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This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the first-ever MacBook Air going on sale. A decade and a half later, 2023 could be an amazing year for fans of the laptop that changed the industry.

That’s because right now the MacBook Air is in the finest shape of its life, making it one of the best laptops money can buy. And if industry whispers are to be believed, things could get even better in just a few months.

When Steve Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air on January 15, 2008, he famously did so by pulling it from a thin manilla envelope. There was nothing else like it — a laptop so svelte that its thickest point was still slimmer than the thinnest point on rival devices. There was thin and light, and then there was the MacBook Air.

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Yet for all its groundbreaking achievements, Apple’s most slimline laptop was hopelessly lost in the wilderness less than a decade later. By the late 2010s, the MacBook Air had become synonymous with sluggish, underpowered performance. It was lightweight in both senses of the word: never weighing you down, yet never offering much in the way of performance either.

With Apple silicon powering the latest MacBook Air, things couldn’t be more different. And there are even more reasons to be hopeful for the next few months.

The little laptop goes large

The hope lies in rumors that Apple is working on a 15-inch MacBook Air, which is apparently due out at a special spring event. That means if you want to buy a MacBook Air this year, you’ll have a choice of two sizes for the first time since Apple killed off the 11-inch MacBook Air in October 2016.

But more than that, the addition of a new size underscores Apple’s commitment to its thin and light laptop. Far from the beautiful-yet-anemic device that the MacBook Air used to be, it’s now powering into a new epoch looking stronger than ever.

Despite that turnaround, a question remains: with the MacBook Air potentially getting larger, will it still be the best option if you just want the most lightweight MacBook you can get your hands on? Right now, there’s no other choice, but might the sizing of the rumored MacBook Air (15 inches instead of, say, 11 inches) hint at something else?

There are rumors — fleeting and sporadic for now — that Apple is going to bring back the 12-inch MacBook. Could the MacBook Air getting larger be a cryptic clue pointing towards that possibility? After all, a 15-inch MacBook Air would leave a clear opportunity for Apple to fill the gap with a smaller notebook.

Whether that ever comes to pass is anyone’s guess. But it’s clear that the MacBook Air is entering a new era, one where it is able to offer impressive performance without bulk and weight. That was the original vision of the MacBook Air and, 15 years after its debut, that dream is once again being realized.

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