With Apple’s M3 chip nearing completion, many of us are likely waiting until the tech giant releases its hotly-anticipated new M3 MacBook Air – but a new report indicates that we might be waiting for a while longer.
This might not be a huge surprise – after all, previous leaks already indicated that we might be waiting until 2024 for M3 MacBooks – but it now looks all but certain that we won’t be getting the new Apple laptops this year. As reported by Wccftech (originally covered by prolific Apple leaker Mark Gurman in his Power On newsletter), the 13-inch and 15-inch models of the M3 MacBook Air have now reached the engineering verification test stage of development, meaning they’re almost ready, but the report claims that the first M3 products won’t be launching until "between spring and summer" of 2024 at the earliest – so that could be any time from March to perhaps June.
Although Apple has not officially confirmed this, it’s likely that production difficulties are the reason M3 has been pushed back. The M3 processor is made by chip manufacturing titan TSMC on a 3nm process, and the Taiwanese firm has reportedly been experiencing difficulties keeping up with demand.
Will we even get M3 MacBooks early next year?
While M3 production was originally slated to start in late 2022, Apple’s A17 chip (which is built on the same 3nm process) evidently took priority for the iPhone 15 Pro, and combined with existing difficulties at TSMC, this led to M3 delays.
TechRadar's Matt Hanson discussed the ramifications of Apple hoarding TSMC’s resources just last month, and while his focus was on the impacts for other companies such as Intel, it looks like Apple might have neutered its own MacBook production plan by focusing so heavily on the new iPhone chips.
Considering that M3 is projected to deliver some seriously impressive performance, Apple fans waiting to upgrade will no doubt be frustrated by this news. The M2 MacBook Air had relatively modest performance gains over the M1 MacBook Air, so the M3 version is expected to blow its predecessor out of the water – and we can expect it to come in two sizes, since Apple introduced the MacBook Air 15-inch earlier this year.
However, anyone with their finger on the pulse of Apple’s past MacBook plans will be able to tell you that a 2024 launch would be fully in line with previous MacBook Air release cadence. The original M1 model landed in late 2020, while the 13-inch M2 model first arrived in July 2022. A 2024 release wouldn’t be unsurprising, and would probably be a wise move for Apple, since it’ll allow more time to pass and more users to decide they need an upgrade (as well as letting retailers clear out existing stock of M1 and M2 MacBooks).
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I don’t expect an M3 MacBook Air until around the midpoint of 2024 – I think it’ll be later rather than earlier. That would align more closely with the existing release cadence, and Wccftech’s report refers to ‘products outfitted with the M3’ rather than specifically an M3 MacBook Air.
With that in mind, I think our first glimpse of the M3 chip won’t be a laptop at all; instead, I suspect we’ll be getting the M3 iPad Pro, already tipped for a 2024 release, and coming with a shiny new OLED display and redesigned Magic Keyboard. I already suspected that we might get an M3 iPad first, and this newest report from Gurman only strengthens that belief.
I’m still disappointed, though. As my colleague Muskaan Saxena recently asked: why doesn’t Apple seem to care about MacBooks anymore?
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Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.
Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.