Fortunately, fans of the more affordable Apple laptops won't be waiting too long into 2024 for an M3 powerup of their own as a new Bloomberg report indicates that Apple plans to deliver a MacBook Air M3 by the end of March (via Tom's Guide).
M3 for all
The MacBook Pro lineup did add a new more affordable MacBook Pro 14 M3 model this year, but affordable is a relative concept in MacBook Pro land, it starts at $1,599. So budget-conscious Apple laptop buyers who don't need the extra power or hate hearing a fan in their laptop had no choice but to wait for an M3-powered option of their own.
While nothing is certain until Tim Cook and Co. announces it on stage, this leak comes from Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, basically the next best thing to Apple itself. Gurman pegs the launch as coming before the end of March. While Apple does often hold a March event, it didn't have one this year and in 2022 there were no laptops at the March event. Unlike the iPhone 16, which we can confidently say will arrive in September 2024, because Apple is like clockwork with it, the MacBook schedule is far more scattered.
With that said, this timing does make sense given the late October announcement of the MacBook Pro M3 models. Apple has kept the launch of the two lines within roughly 6 months of one another and if they didn't hit the March event, it would likely hold until WWDC 2024 in June, which seems too long.
According to Gurman, no massive changes are coming to the MacBook Air M3, so expect the same 13.6-inch and 15.3-inch display options. The M3 delivered roughly a 20% performance boost to the CPU and 15% to the GPU, so that's about what we would expect from the new Air models vs. their predecessors.
While the MacBook Air 13 M2 is overdue for an update (it launched in July 2022), this might be a slightly bitter pill for MacBook Air 15 M2 buyers as it just hit shelves in June 2023. However, given that the MacBook Air M1 can still hold its own with a lot of current Windows laptops, we wouldn't worry too much if you picked up the Air 15, it'll remain an outstanding laptop for years to come.
M1 is the loneliest number
That leads me to the other intriguing question about this rumored March event. With the MacBook Air M3 arriving are we finally going to see the MacBook Air M1 retired from Apple's active lineup? Rumors of a MacBook SE have been floating around for years, but not much has materialized. So will Apple push the MacBook Air 13 M2 down to $999 to hold the line on that price point or will it call it quits on offering a sub-$1,000 option?
We'll have to wait a few more months for our answer, but color me intrigued as Apple may be feeling the pressure in 2024. The Windows laptop market looks like it could be in for a huge year with Intel 14th Gen, AMD Ryzen 8000 series, and Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite chips all focusing on AI-enhanced performance and extended battery life. We also have the potential arrival of Windows 12 midway through the year, which also reportedly leans heavily into AI.
Either way, 2024 is going to be an exciting time to be shopping for a new laptop.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.