Apple needs a 16-inch MacBook Air in its lineup

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Apple needs a 16-inch MacBook Air in its lineup
This isn’t something beyond man’s power to create. Apple could, and should, make a 16-inch MacBook Air.
Concept: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Some of the criticism leveled at the latest 16-inch MacBook Pro should inspire Apple to make a MacBook Air with the same size display. It would be the largest Air ever, but there seems to be a market for a very big, yet very slim, Mac notebook.

And that’s not something Apple offers in its current product lineup.

16-inch MacBook Pro is a beast

On the day the 16-inch MacBook Pro first reaches excited customer’s hands, it’s not hard to find people who passed on it because of the thickness.

It’s SOOO thick and heavy,” said Jack Weimer on Twitter. “Square and thick come to mind :(,” said another Twitter user. “I honestly do NOT like how thick it is,” said Vedant Rusty. And there are many, many more negative comments about the new MacBook Pro in that same vein.

It might be tempting to blame the messengers — to criticize the critics of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. But that would be unfair. What they want is a slim MacBook with the largest available display. They aren’t somehow wrong to want that.

Give us a 16-inch MacBook Air

We know quite a bit about the MacBook Air coming in 2022, even though we don’t expect it to arrive for close to a year. It’s supposed to be quite slim, very colorful and offer a minimal number of ports.

What’s not known is the size of the display. But there’s never been an Air larger than 13.3 inches, so Apple is probably planning another that size, or perhaps 14 inches, like this year’s smaller MacBook Pro. And that would be great. But it shouldn’t be the only option.

It’s time for a 16-inch MacBook Air as well. While it’s true this line of notebooks is for people with fairly modest computing needs, that’s about processing power, not screen size. Writers and executives need large screens, too.

Apple could build the slender laptop around an M1 or M2 processor, depending on when it launches. There would be no room for fans in its ultra-slim chassis, but the basic M1 certainly doesn’t need them, and the same will almost certainly be true of the basic M2.

Of course, such a device wouldn’t have the same over-the-top performance as a 2021 MacBook Pro. Getting that requires a more powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max chip — and they require fans. But MacBook Air users don’t need to render 3D scenes in 8K. They’re generally writing emails. Or editing spreadsheets.

But again, even someone working on a screenplay or making Zoom calls can use a 16-inch screen. And currently, the only way to get one from Apple is to buy a MacBook Pro with way more processing power — and the associated bulk and expense — than many people need. No wonder some people find themselves complaining about the beefy new 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The 13.3-inch MacBook Air starts at $999, while the 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499. Guessing how much a 16-inch MacBook Air will cost isn’t easy, but surely Apple could get it somewhere well below $2,000.

We might have to be patient

The bad news is that it takes years to design a successful notebook. If Apple doesn’t already have a 16-inch MacBook Air in development, it’s probably impossible to deliver it before 2023. At the earliest.

Still, complaints about the thickness of the 16-inch MacBook Pro show there’s demand for such a slender, big-screen beast. The sooner Apple gets started, the sooner it can meet that demand.