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Apple’s 12-inch MacBook seemed like a meaningfully distinct laptop for the company when it launched in 2015, offering a smaller screen size and thinner body than the company’s 13-inch MacBook Pros. But it became surplusage when the company dramatically revamped the 13-inch MacBook Air last October. Today, Apple appears to have killed the 12-inch MacBook entirely and is instead pointing users to its newly refreshed 13-inch MacBook Air and entry-level MacBook Pro models.
Equipped with an ultra-low power Intel chipset and single USB-C port, the smaller model was somewhat unusual from the start — seriously underpowered in raw performance yet with a beautiful Retina display and the user’s choice of multiple iPad-like aluminum chassis colors. The 12-inch model was as close to a “small” Mac as Apple was willing to offer as a high-resolution replacement for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, and it could easily have stuck around as the family’s low-spec $999 alternative.
That said, the MacBook clearly wasn’t for everyone. From its earliest days, some users complained about its low-travel “butterfly” keyboard and the need to carry a USB-C dongle for virtually anything beyond basic power connectivity. Even after a refresh, the fanless machine’s 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core m3 processor was also a sticking point for users interested in doing anything more performance-intensive than web browsing, emailing, word processing, and basic gaming. But space-conscious customers loved the machine’s small footprint and thinness.
Last year, reports of Intel chip engineering challenges provided hints that something might change with the 12-inch MacBook. Supply chain sources claimed that Apple was forced to redesign and enlarge a new entry-level machine due to Intel’s delay of 10-nanometer chips, ultimately resulting in the release of a 13-inch MacBook Air with internal components that were closer to the MacBook than the MacBook Pro. The company then opted not to update the 12-inch model after its 2017 refresh, leading to its cancellation today.
Along with the 12-inch MacBook, Apple has also removed the aging non-Retina version of the MacBook Air from its product lineup. Most recently refreshed in 2017, the low-resolution 13-inch MacBook Air kept its prior-generation chassis for $999, offering a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor and full-sized USB ports to the most budget-conscious students. Just in time for back to school shopping, Apple is now directing students toward the Retina MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, each with $100 educational discounts off their $1,099 and $1,299 normal prices.
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