Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Stephen Hackett

The Hackett File: Room for a larger MacBook Air

Apple’s laptop lineup is in a very different place than it was just a few years ago, when the largest notebook you could get was 15.4-inches in size, and the smallest came with a 12-inch display and just one lonely USB-C port.

Both of those machines are gone. The 16-inch MacBook Pro looks like a great option for those who need a lot of power on the road. If you were a 12-inch MacBook kind of user … well … uhhh. Hmm.

I don’t know if Apple would ever make a MacBook Air smaller than its current 13.3-inch size, but I do think it should make one that’s bigger.

For years, if you wanted a big notebook from Apple, you had to pay for power and features that you didn’t necessarily need. Lots of people would like something larger than the Air, but don’t have any need for stuff like 6-core i7 processors or the Touch Bar.

Over on the PC side of things, moderately powered notebooks can be found in all sorts of screen sizes, to meet the needs of all sorts of users.

I can envision a future with two lines of Apple notebooks:

  • MacBook Air: 13 and 15 inches
  • MacBook Pro: 14 and 16 inches

A MacBook Air with a larger display could enjoy pretty spectacular battery life if Apple scaled the battery with the chassis, and more screen real estate would be welcomed by many home and office users who don’t lug their notebooks with them everywhere they go.

There’s precedent for this, of course. Look no further than our own Jason Snell’s office for an 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which was sold for years alongside the 13-inch model.

If we go further back, we encounter the 12 and 14-inch iBooks. The 14-inch was added to the line in January 2002. It was identical to the smaller 12-inch machine, right down to the 1024×768 display … which did not look great when stretched to fit the bigger size. Thankfully, Apple has learned from its past mistakes in this regard.

I don’t know how likely it is that Apple would introduce another size of MacBook Air, but I think a larger consumer notebook would do well for the company — perhaps better than a new, smaller one.

Sorry, MacBook fans.

[Stephen Hackett is the author of 512 Pixels and co-founder of Relay FM.]

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