The Refreshed Retina MacBook

19 April 2016

Apple:

Apple today updated MacBook with the latest Intel processors, improved graphics performance, faster flash storage and an additional hour of battery life, making the thinnest and lightest Mac better than ever. Featuring an all-metal unibody enclosure, MacBook is now available in four aluminum finishes — gold, silver, space gray, and for the first time on a Mac, a gorgeous rose gold. With a stunning 12-inch Retina display, highly responsive full-size keyboard, Force Touch trackpad, versatile USB-C port and all-day battery life in a design that is just 2 pounds and 13.1 mm thin, MacBook is the future of the notebook.

Unsurprising given that the Retina MacBook design was brand new just a year ago, Apple has kicked off its Mac updates in 2016 with a minor refresh to its flagship laptop. Better CPU, better graphics, longer battery life, Rose Gold. Somewhat disappointingly, the USB-C is not Thunderbolt 3.

The pricing didn’t change, so it still starts at $1299 for the base model. This means the MacBook Air continues to be sold for another generation. When the MacBook can get to three digit prices, I don’t see a reason for the Air to exist. The Air line is running out of breath (excuse the pun) and I think the upcoming new ultra-thin 13 inch laptops will be branded as Pro, not Air. (By the way, the new Pro models are probably going to replace all their ports with a few Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C sockets).

Interestingly, the 13 inch Air did get a spec-bump today on RAM (8 GB across the board) so it isn’t abandoned. I addressed this flippantly on Twitter but it disguised my actual point. What I was trying to convey was that the RAM improvement should not be seen as a sign that the Air branding is alive, more that it’s on life support receiving maintenance updates to sustain it. I do not believe the Air laptops will be sold in a year or two.