Apple’s entire product line will eventually switch to Retina Displays. Until then, we’ll see a gradual shift as the company balances pricing, size, weight, and battery life concerns. Which Apple product will be next in line for Retina? According to a new report, the MacBook Air’s display may get a high-res update later this year.

Macotakara points to a report from Economic Times that says that new MacBook Airs will arrive in Q3. It states that new 11 and 13-inch models will tote Intel’s upcoming Haswell processors, and that they may also have Retina screens.

The details about timing and processors are far from surprising. Intel’s low-powered Haswell chips are rumored to launch around June – right on time for Apple’s typical Mac refresh cycle.

Retina in 2013?

The bit about the Retina Display is more surprising, considering the obstacles Apple’s engineers will face. The Retina iPad, for example, added a second LED light bar and a larger battery. This led to the 3rd and 4th-generation iPads being thicker and heavier than the iPad 2.

The MacBook Pro with Retina Display is thinner than the standard MBPs primarily because it drops the optical drive and adds a solid-state drive (SSD). The Air is already a member of that club, so it may be tricky for Apple to add Retina without adding heft.

“Thicker” and “heavier” would be tough pills for MacBook Air owners to swallow – no matter how marvelous the display.


Pricing could also be an issue. The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro carries a US$300 premium over its non-Retina, optical drive-equipped counterpart. The 15-inch Retina MBPs start at $400 more than their lower-resolution brethren.

Apple can get away with this because the MacBook Pro is marketed towards professionals. The MacBook Air, though, is a consumer-level laptop, and a Retina model would probably need to stay in the same price range.

This is all assuming today’s information is legit. Asian supply chain leaks are often hit-and-miss, so we’d file this under “interesting, but unconfirmed.”

View gallery - 2 images