It was suggested earlier this week that we might see an Apple Silicon 12-inch MacBook before the end of the year, as one of Apple’s first ARM-powered Macs.
If the report is true, I have already talked myself into buying one, despite a rather difficult fact …
My 11-inch MacBook Air lives in a closet
I have an 11-inch MacBook Air which was a perfectly sensible purchase in 2013, but which has since become practically obsolete for my needs.
My primary Mac was the long 17-inch MacBook Pro. I loved that machine and liked to travel with it, but it was a bit bulky and heavy to lug around the city when I might just want to use it in a coffee shop for 45 minutes. It was definitely too bulky to carry on a cycling holiday. A separate, ultra-portable Mac was eligible, and I bought an 1
But things have changed significantly since then. First, the 15-inch MacBook Pro and later the 16-inch MacBook Pro provided a much more portable primary Mac. I take it quite happily with me to cafe use (or did, back in the days when there were cafes …).
Second, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with keyboard is an extremely capable pseudo-laptop, so it provided an extra option when I wanted portability over power – especially when traveling, as all-day battery life is a compelling feature.
So my bad 11-inch MacBook Air from 2013 is now largely unused.
It saw use for a while when my girlfriend adopted it after deciding that the iMac was too big for her needs now, but she then concluded that she did not need a Mac at all. Apple has been using the iPad as a “computer” for some time now, and Steph is a case study: I gave her my previous 11-inch iPad with Brydge keyboard, and she now uses it as her only computer.
This is not to say that the MacBook Air is useless. I can not work without a Mac, so it remains my backup machine in case something happens to my main. And it has been used twice in that capacity. So I need an extra Mac. What I do not need is one new reserve Mac.
Lid on 12-inch MacBook
But I’ve always had a secret desire for a 12-inch MacBook; it was just such a cute machine! I simply could not justify one when I had a perfectly good MacBook Air, nor was it worth the upgrade cost when in most respects it was a downgrade.
However, the desire for one never disappeared, and of course the new one will have another big appeal: a chance to play with a next-generation Mac. As Apple Silicon 12-inch MacBook, curiosity alone would be a strong move. Add to my original gadget desire and it would be hard to resist.
eBay tells me that the MacBook Air is still worth around £ 300 ($ 400). If the new machine costs £ 999 (which will be pounds for dollars with 20% VAT included here in Apple’s list prices), there is an upgrade cost of £ 700. The optimistic view would be that Apple transfers some of the savings from its own silicon to consumers to help kickstart demand for the ARM generation, so it might be £ 899 instead (I personally do not expect Apple to go any lower than that).
As a secondary machine, performance is not a priority, so it should certainly be good for a lifespan of 5-7 years – which corresponds to my Air, which will be able to run Big Sur, but which probably will not receive updates beyond that. So call it around £ 100 ($ 133) a year in round figures.
If it were just a spare machine, I will still hesitate and will tend to just hold in the air until it dies. But if the requirement for battery life of 15-20 hours is true, this is a machine I will definitely use as a supplement to my MBP. Especially as with an A-series processor, which claimed that battery life can be accurate. In general, I find that MacBooks deliver around 50-60% of their required life in real use, while my iPad fulfills or even exceeds the alleged life.
As much as I love the iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard, I’m still a Mac guy more than an iPad guy. A lot of what I do myself for leisure, involves multitasking, and iPadOS is still quite painful there compared to macOS. My iPad would still have a role, but a 12-inch MacBook that matches or beats battery life? No competition for most things.
In this scenario, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will remain my primary computer, and I will still travel with it when I need to work from a hotel room. But for pure leisure and coffee bar use, the 12-inch MacBook would be my machine of choice.
It would then be my iPad that would be difficult to justify. It will often fall into the category of a luxurious product: Nice to have, but optional. The only role the 12-inch MacBook could not fulfill is the e-book reader, and it is easily solved with a lighter.
So yes, if the report is true, I will place my order on day one. What about you? Share in the comments your own thoughts about the reputed device.
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