Updated August 22nd: article originally posted August 19th.
Apple’s MacBook portfolio has been relatively quiet in recent times. The last launch was the 15-inch MacBook Air. It caught the attention of many Apple fans, but the truth is this larger consumer laptop was little more than 2022’s MacBook Air with a supersized display.
If you’re considering jumping into the MacBook world, now may not be the best time. Apple has something better to offer you in the near future.
Update: Sunday August 20th: The team at Gizchina has reported on Apple’s plans to add FaceID to the Mac platform shortly. The biometric unlocking system is prevalent and widely used on iPhones and iPads. With macOS drawing ever closer to echoing iPadOS and allowing cross-platform apps to run on either, mimicking the feature set of Apple’s tablet and phone is critical.
The details come in a patent titled “Light Recognition Module for Determining a User of a Computing Device,” which lays out potential options to allow the computer to recognise the user. Of course the distance of a patent does not guarantee the technology will reach a consumer device, but it certainly adds to the growing signs that Apple is working on doing just that.
Update: Tuesday August 22nd: With the launch of the 15-inch MacBook Air at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple essentially finished the story of the M2 Macs. Many Apple fans had been clamouring for a consumer-focused macOS laptop with a larger display. While it may not have met Apple’s initial expectations, it certainly found critical success.
The team at iMore have awarded the 15-inch Air its “Best Apple Device Of The Year” award, noting that “it’s the MacBook that no-one knew they wanted, with it’s slim frame and large display… It’s a lovely machine that balances size and portability, giving you a bit of extra space for your work while still being super easy to slip into a bag.”
The critical thing to remember is that this model is essentially “the end of the line.” Apple has taken this evolution as far as possible. The next step – the move to the M3 family – will see a significant amount of change, with increases in performance, power and endurance that will allow even the entry-level machines to match, if not exceed, the current specifications. The improvements are coming.
Looking to the near future, Apple is set to introduce the next generation of Apple Silicon with the presumptively named M3 family. The vanilla M3 would be the first step of that refresh. It is expected to launch alongside two new MacBooks and a Mac Mini in October. Beyond that, the professionally focused MacBook Pros, iMac, Mac Studio and Mac Pro are all expected to see new models using M3 technology during 2024.
What will these new M3 Macs in general, and the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models in particular, offer consumers?
The biggest change is the move away from the 5-nanometer technology used in the M1 and M2 families to 3-nanometer technology. The smaller size of the nodes means a higher density of transistors, which naturally leads to more efficiency and performance. While the M2 chipsets are built on the same technology as the M1, the move from 5nm to 3nm will see a significant upgrade in the M3 capabilities before any of Apple’s engineers apply the learnings from the M1 and M2.
The first key benefit of this upgrade will be seen in the performance levels. Again, the baseline performance will be lifted using 3nm, but Apple is not stopping there. While the vanilla M3 is expected to stay with 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU options, the higher-specced M3 Pro, M3 Max and M3 Ultra chipsets will gain more CPU and GPU cores across the portfolio.
With more performance in each core and more cores, the M3 family will take a significant step up in capability.
The second benefit is efficiency. The now completed move from Intel to ARM with the first Apple Silicon chips found a significant jump in efficiency – which directly translates to battery life. Apple increased the life between the M1 and M2 Macs, but both used the 5nm technology. The move to 3nm technology will, by dint of physics, create a more efficient chip, even before Apple’s engineers get in to redesign the silicon.
Whether Apple decides to increase the endurance time of your next MacBook or to use the energy for more performance remains to be seen. With the iPhone family, Apple tends to keep the entrance numbers broadly similar between mode yearly models, instead leveraging performance from the extra energy. We’ve not had as many data points for its approach to the Mac… hopefully, the user will have options to balance the performance/battery life level themselves.
This speaks to the last benefit of waiting for the M3 MacBooks. Apple is working on several new technologies for the MacBook platform, many of which will debut with the m3 hardware. These range from finally moving the displays away from LCD to OLED, introducing FaceID to the Mac platform, adding 3D touch to the trackpad, and of course, the long-expected move to a touchscreen display.
More powerful processors, more efficient use of battery life, and design changes will bring the platform parity with similarly priced Windows laptops. This isn’t the time to be looking for a new MacBook Pro, or even a MacBook Air. Apple has something much better coming along in the near future.
Now read the last MacBook, iPhone and Apple Watch headlines in Forbes’ weekly Apple Loop news digest…