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New MacBook Air 2016 release date, price and specs rumours UK: New thin and powerful MacBook Pro thr

When will the new MacBook Air be released in the UK? What tech specs and new features will the new MacBook Air get? Is the \'Air\' brand being killed off? Will the new MacBook Air get a Retina display at last?

The MacBook Air has had an update in 2016, but it was such a minor and frankly disappointing update - merely including an optional RAM upgrade in the standard package for the 13in model - that we\'re looking ahead to the next MacBook Air update. Will we have to wait until 2017 for a proper update to the MacBook Air lineup, or was the 2016 announcement just a teaser for something bigger near the end of 2016?

In this article we round up all the rumours, hints and clues about the new MacBook Air for 2016 or 2017, including the new MacBook Air\'s UK release date, tech specs, new features, design, along with speculation that Apple may be phasing out the \'Air\' lineup completely.

After the Apple event that took place on 27 October 2016, it seems unclear if the MacBook Air line has been completely killed off. No new MacBook Air was announced at the event and the new MacBook Pro 2016 was compared in size, performance and weight to the MacBook Air. The new MacBook Pro is smaller in dimensions, and is also thinner than the existing MacBook Air, which was launched with portability in mind.

It should also be noted that the 11in MacBook Air has now been discontinued, with the 13in variant receiving a £100 price bump - taking the basic model from £849 up to £949 and the 256GB model up from £999 to £1,099 - this is likely due to Brexit. Meaning the older MacBook Airs are more expensive to buy now! We see this as Apple\'s way of completely cutting the Air product line, as not many people will want it with more powerful, and thinner, Mac laptops available.

Read next: Best MacBook buying guide | Best Mac buying guide

New MacBook Air 2016 rumours: UK release date
Updated 27 October 2016: Apple chose not to update the MacBook Air line, suggesting either a refresh in March 2017 or a termination of the line.

Apple hosted a special event on 21 March 2016, and ahead of the event we (quite naturally) expected new MacBook Air and MacBook models. After all, the spring event represented one year since both were last updated (or one year since it was first launched in the MacBook\'s case) and before that new Air models arrived in April of 2014. But instead, Apple used the event to show off the iPhone SE and the iPad Pro with 9.7in screen.


Instead, we had to wait until 19 April for Apple to release new MacBooks and the updated MacBook Air. But the MacBook Air update was underwhelming, to say the least. While the MacBook got a power boost and a new Rose Gold colour option, the MacBook Air simply got a new 8GB onboard memory standard, and that\'s only for the 13in model.

So when will we get a proper update to the MacBook Air line-up? There were two main theories: tonight (27 October 2016), and March 2017 - we hope that the Air line will remain come March 2017.

However, if the lineup isn\'t getting the chop, we assume that Apple will stick to its yearly upgrade cycle and should release the 2017 MacBook Air at some point in early 2017, possibly between March-May like with previous years.
New MacBook Air 2016 rumours: Will the MacBook Air be discontinued?
Following the October 2016 Mac event, there are strong suggestions that the MacBook Air line will be completely discontinued. This does mean that the entry level MacBooks are now a little more appealing, but does mean that a 11in MacBook Air will now be missed by some who were hoping for it to be replaced by a similar variant - we presume Apple didn\'t see a huge market for 11in laptops and thus decided to axe the product line.

However, the 11in may not be the only MacBook Air to be discontinued. We think that Apple is about to discontinue the MacBook Air line altogether.

Tech Blogger Jack March claims to have spoken with a source close to the situation who says that Apple is about to ditch the Air brand completely, including the MacBook Air and iPad Air products in its lineup.

Right now, we think that Jack could be absolutely right. There are rumours that Apple won\'t release an iPad Air 3 now that the iPad Pro has a 9.7in option, and the MacBook Air doesn\'t seem to fit naturally in Apple\'s line-up now that the new MacBook is here and is thinner and lighter than ever.

With the advent of the 12in MacBook and the 12.9in iPad Pro, it\'s no surprise that rumourmongers are starting to predict that at least the 11in MacBook Air, with a smaller screen than either of those devices, will be discontinued. The iPad Pro may indeed be viewed by Apple as a replacement for the 11in MacBook Air if Apple CEO Tim Cook\'s comments to the Telegraph are taken into account (published on 1 December 2015).

Following the launch of the iPad Pro, Cook told the Telegraph: \"I think if you\'re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?

\"Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.\"
However, should Apple discontinue the 11in MacBook Air, it does remove the lower price of entry from the line-up.

But as mentioned, it may not just be the 11in MacBook Air that is discontinued. When the new MacBook launched on 9 March 2015, analysts began to suspect that the MacBook Air might not be around for much longer.

\"This wasn\'t the MacBook Air, but instead leaped past the Air,\" said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. \"They kept the MacBook Air around just as they do with older iPhones, but the MacBook is now in the same position as the newest iPhone. That makes me wonder if the Air will go away over time.\"

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research and head of US business for Kantar WorldPanel Comtech, also predicted a contraction of Apple\'s line-up. \"All [notebooks] need to be more mobile, so something like the Air doesn\'t need to be branched out any more,\" she said of the differentiation Apple made for the line since its introduction more than eight years ago. \"And it\'s to Apple\'s benefit not to have so many \'families\' of Macs.\"

More recently, KGI Securities analyst and Apple guru Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple is planning on launching a 13in MacBook to sit alongside the 12in MacBook, which would serve as a replacement to the MacBook Air going forward.

In a note obtained by AppleInsider, the analyst forsees an end to the meaningful development of the MacBook Air. Apple won\'t remove the line from its stores just yet, though - it\'ll serve as an entry-level device for Apple adopters, much like it did with the original MacBook before it was discontinued in 2011.

Over time, it seems likely that the MacBook Air range could be discontinued and eventually replaced by a Retina MacBook range at a lower price.

MacBook Air 2016 release date: When was the MacBook Air last updated?
We originally expected the MacBook Air to be updated with a Retina display back on 9 March 2015 at Apple\'s Spring Forward event. And were quite surprised when we got something else: a Retina MacBook, yes, but one with a 12in display and a USB-C port (and very few other ports), a new strand of products for Apple\'s MacBook laptop line-up.

Less glamorously, Apple\'s MacBook Air did get an update at the same time, with new, faster processors, faster flash storage and better graphics, and was updated more recently in April 2016 with increased RAM, but the screen and overall design remained the same, with no Retina display for the Air line.

New MacBook Air 2016 rumours: Price
The last time that there was a Mac laptop that had more advanced specs than a more expensive model was the old MacBooks (aluminium, then white and black, and then eventually aluminum again). These older MacBook models were eventually discontinued and the price of the MacBook Air was reduced to make it the new entry level (when the MacBook Air initially launched it was quite overpriced for the specs, just like the current Retina MacBook).
It seems likely that the same will happen with the new MacBook models eventually replacing the MacBook Airs, at a lower price, but for now that seems a long way off.

The 11in MacBook Air started at £749, while the entry level 13in model was £849 - this has now changed with the 11in axed - making the new 13in model, with a £100 price hike start at £949.

If the 11in MacBook Air is removed from the line up perhaps the cost of entry of the 13in model will reduce to the level that the 11in model is currently, with a rumoured 15in model coming in at a higher price at some point in the future.

New MacBook Air 2016 rumours: Dimensions
If Apple does update the MacBook Air range, what dimensions should we expect?

As mentioned above, rumours suggest that the 11in MacBook Air will be discontinued, after all, the 11in MacBook Air is both smaller than the MacBook and the new iPad Pro, and didnít receive an update when the 13in model did.

However, 9to5Mac points out that the new 13in and 15in MacBook Air models could be additional sizes to the MacBook range. That site predicts that some time in 2016 or 2017 we will have just two ranges of Mac laptops: the MacBook at the ultraportable level, and the more advanced MacBook Pro. Maybe the 17in MacBook Pro will make a comeback too, with a 4K display.

New MacBook Air 2016 rumours: Specs & new features
These new MacBook Air models are said to be thinner and lighter, with internal spec enhancements. Apparently, the new MacBook Air will feature new batteries, cooling modules, and chassis, according to the Economic Daily News.

We also expect to see USB Type-C across the range, especially now that Intel has integrated Thunderbolt 3 into USB-C - more on that below.

Processors
The next-generation MacBook Air is likely to feature next-generation Intel processors, as well as graphics and RAM upgrades. Intel has started shipping its Kaby Lake processors - that\'s the generation of chips after Skylake, and offers support for Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 and DisplayPort 1.2.

But here\'s a leftfield alternative. The Dutch-language site Techtastic has posted a reference in the kernel of macOS Sierra to \"ARM HURRICANE\", a chip family that is now supported.

This isn\'t a chip that anyone has heard of, but it would make sense for this to be an Apple custom ARM chip, fitting in as it does with the company\'s previous naming conventions: the A7 (in the iPhone 5s) was codenamed Cyclone, the A8 Typhoon and the A9 Twister. Those are iPad/iPhone chips, of course, so does this mean Apple is going to let iDevices run macOS Sierra? Certainly not - but it might be about to put ARM chips in the MacBook Air.

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