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MacBook Pro and MacBook Air could get their biggest upgrade ever this year

MacBook Pro 16-Inch
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We've expected a 13-inch MacBook Pro running on ARM-based Apple Silicon this year, but a new rumor shows that Apple might be thinking bigger. 

Taiwan-based tech publication DigiTimes is reporting that its "industry sources" say Apple is planning to release its other MacBook at the same time. And that's making us wonder how Apple plans to differentiate its laptops.

Quoting the report, "Apple is set to release 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, powered by Apple Silicon, by the end of this year." This set off an alarm in my brain: how will the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air differentiate once we've moved away from Intel's U- and Y-series chips?

The report does not explain anything about that, but this all reminds me of the informed speculation I reported on last week, when analyst J. Glenn Künzler argued that Apple won't be making many variations on its laptop chips. 

Instead, Künzler suggested the 13-inch MacBook Air and Pro will be merged into a laptop known simply as The New MacBook, or just the MacBook. That the 16-inch MacBook Pro would be the laptop with multiple Apple chips in it, to make it the more powerful edition.

But if Apple plans to release two 13-inch ARM-based laptops this winter, one wonders how they'd be different if Künzler is right about Apple limiting its number of chips. Could the Air get an even bigger redesign than its 2018 edition? Will it become the ultra-ultraportable that the 12-inch MacBook was supposed to be? 

As long as the MacBook Air is just a slightly more tapered MacBook Pro, with its wedge shape, Apple faces an engineering decision. The Air has less space for its internal battery by default, so will the Pro just last longer? Or would Apple increase the number of A-series chips in the Pro so that the two laptops have more similar battery life, and the Pro is speedier?