12-inch MacBook shortage hints at impending refresh

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MacBook lineup
Don't buy a 12-inch MacBook today.
Photo: Apple

A refresh is overdue for Apple’s 12-inch MacBook lineup, and it looks like it could be arriving soon.

Availability of the machine has dwindled at one major retailer, which suggests new models — complete with upgraded internals — will arrive this fall. It could be one of a number of Apple machines that will see improvements before the end of the year.

Apple has already refreshed the MacBook Pro lineup, but there was no upgrade for the 12-inch MacBook this spring. It’s now been well over a year since the device received any attention. It is still powered by Intel’s seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors.

But Coffee Lake chips could be arriving soon.

MacBook out of stock at Best Buy

Many models of the 12-inch MacBook are no longer available to purchase at Best Buy. 9to5Mac notes that the Core i5 option with 512GB of storage is particularly difficult to obtain, with no availability in space gray, gold, or rose gold.

It could be that Best Buy is simply awaiting more stock, but when a major retailer sells out completely like this, it usually indicates that Apple is making way for new machines. We’ve already heard that it has big plans for the Mac this fall.

Almost every one of Apple’s machines is expected to get an upgrade later this year. We’ve heard whispers about a new, “inexpensive” notebook that will replace the MacBook Air, and a brand new Mac mini that’s been years in the making.

We could also see improvements to the iMac, with “significant display performance upgrades” predicted by reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

What will the new MacBook bring?

Eighth-generation Coffee Lake chips with faster graphics will almost certainly be one improvement to the 12-inch MacBook. It’s also likely the machine will get Apple’s improved butterfly keyboard that’s less prone to being ruined by debris.

It’s not yet clear whether Apple’s new Macs will appear in September alongside new iPhones. They will probably roll out quietly later on. If you really need a 12-inch MacBook now, all models are still available from Apple — but we suggest you wait.