Rumored affordable MacBook Air isn’t actually new - and I'm not happy

New Macbook Air 15 inch, Apple store.
(Image credit: Rezeki2031 via Shutterstock)

If last year’s rumors about a new, more affordable, MacBook, got you excited - then we’ve got some bad news, as it looks like it could have been referring to the MacBook Air (2020, M1) getting a new price cut to $699.

So, rather than getting a brand-new type of MacBook with a price that could challenge the best Chromebooks out there, as some of the rumors suggested, the reality looks like it’s really a four-year-old MacBook with a cheaper - though still not exactly budget - price tag. Even worse, it looks like it’s only available from Walmart - which will annoy anyone like me who lives outside of the US.

The M1 MacBook Air was first launched in 2020 and was officially discontinued by Apple this month with the launch of the latest MacBook Air models. However, Walmart is selling the M1 MacBook Air at a better-than-Black Friday price of $699. For this price, you might think these are refurbished MacBooks, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Before its discontinuation, the M1 MacBook Air normally retailed for $999. 

According to MacRumors, these are brand-new devices and appear to be “fresh inventory”. So, while Apple is no longer selling the M1 MacBook Air from its own store, it may still be producing new ones for sale elsewhere. It seems like the rumored cheaper new MacBook Air isn’t actually ‘new’ in the way we had hoped, but instead just a discount on a popular, albeit older, MacBook, which is a bit disappointing.  

Disappointed is an understatement.

While this is good news for people who have been eager to buy a MacBook but remain skeptical because of the price, it is rather disappointing to learn that we’re not getting an actual new cheaper alternative - especially for those of us outside the US who can’t easily shop at Walmart. 

I’ve been saving up to buy myself a new MacBook Air for quite some time, and I have to admit I was incredibly excited to hear Apple might try to wiggle into the affordable laptop market and square up against Google’s budget Chromebooks. Don’t get me wrong, some of the best Chromebooks on the market right now can handle heavy workloads and do most of what you’d expect from a MacBook, but as someone deeply integrated into the Apple ecosystem, it wouldn’t make sense for me to buy one. 

The 2020 MacBook Air still holds up today, and the M1 chip is more than capable of keeping up with everyday tasks, but the fact that it’s already four years old now does not mean you’re going to be spending money on an older machine that’s not exactly futureproof. , If last year’s rumors were indeed talking about the M1 MacBook Air, I can’t be too mad (well, I am), but I do hope that we will someday see a new, cheaper alternative to the M3 MacBook Air. 

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Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).