MacBook Air Rumors: Retina Display, Solar Charging, Better Battery

With Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference just months away, it's likely we're going to see the latest evolution of the MacBook Air appear in June. The 2014 edition of Apple's slimmest notebook is expected to catch up to its Pro counterpart with a Retina display and Thunderbolt 2 support, and could add some neat new features like solar charging. Here are all the rumors we've heard so far about the new MacBook Air.

Retina Display

The most probable rumor is that the new  MacBook Air will have a Retina display with a 2560 x 1600 resolution. Apple's beefier MacBook Pro already touts a Retina screen, and both the iPad Air and iPad mini gained the feature last year. It would make sense for Apple's entry-level notebook to follow suit, as the 2013 Air's 1400 x 900 display falls way short of those on competing Ultrabooks like Sony's 1920 x 1080 VAIO Pro 11.

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A Single, 12-inch Model

The current MacBook Air ships in 11-inch and 13-inch variations, but those could be consolidated into a single 12-inch model according to AppleInsider. Apple is said to be experimenting with a fanless MacBook build, which could make this 12-inch Air the company's slimmest and quietest yet. 

Apple has previously retired some of its notebook sizes, such as  the 17-inch MacBook Pro, and this new 12-inch Air would likely allow Apple to sell last year's 11-inch and 13-inch versions at more affordable price points. Interestingly, a 12-inch MacBook Air would tout roughly the same screen size as Apple's rumored iPad Pro.

Solar Charging and Second Screen

In January 2014, Apple secured a patent for an "Electronic device display module," which would allow a notebook to have a display on both sides of the lid. The patent notes that this second display module can be used for solar charging, which would extend the MacBook Air's already excellent battery life. 

The screen's electrochromic construction would give it the ability to become transparent,  which would allow the Air to retain its sleek and simple design. Apple's patented rear display can also sport touch sensors and LCD capabilities, which could potentially let you check the weather or traffic without opening your notebook.

Better Performance and Thunderbolt 2 

The purported Retina MacBook Air will pack a new version of Low Power DRAM, which will allow for speedier performance and longer battery life. According to GottaBeMobile, the next MacBook Air could also feature Thunderbolt 2. Currently available on the MacBook Pro, this high-speed connection allows for transfer speeds of up to 20Gbps with support for 4k monitors. 

Buttonless Touchpad

Based on a recent Apple patent, a future MacBook Air could sport a completely button-free touchpad. This patented touchpad tech would use force senors to react to varying levels of pressure, allowing you to perform click-based functions without the need of a physical button. We've seen similar tech in the HP EliteBook Folio 1040, which uses Synaptics' pressure-sensitive ForcePad. 

Release Date

The 2014 MacBook Air could be unveiled as soon as June 2 at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference, the same show where the Mac maker debuted last year's model in 2013. However, a research note discovered by AppleInsider points to a later Q3 2014 release. A summer release seems more likely given Apple's history, as well as the fact that the highly-anticipated iPhone 6 is supposedly launching in the fall.

Michael Andronico
A devout gamer and tech enthusiast, Mike Andronico joined the Laptop team in July 2013. With a B.A. in Journalism from Purchase College and experience at GameNGuide, Examiner and 2D-X, Mike tackles everything from iPhone rumors to in-depth hardware reviews.