12-inch-MacBook-Air-aerial-render-small

A well-sourced report from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman has ignited a heated debate on social media about the practicability of a brand new twelve-inch MacBook Air model as it’s said to ditch standard USB ports, the SD Card slot and even its Thunderbolt I/O and MagSafe power connector in favor of a single, fully reversible USB Type-C port.

Critics who call it a step back usability-wise, not forward, mention the original MacBook Air which released in January 2008 with just one USB port on it. On the other hand, they forget that USB Type-C does a lot more than standard USB. For starters, it can safely replace Thunderbolt for video and data I/O and MagSafe for charging.

That being said, there are still some fundamental questions like how am I supposed to connect an iPhone to the machine if the only USB port is used for charging? I’ll ellaborate on the viability of a one-port MacBook Air further below, but first tell us, if you will, your initial reactions to the purported design of the forthcoming notebook.

Again, if Gurman’s report is accurate, the USB Type-C port will be used for everything from connecting an external display and power to hooking up USB peripherals. I’m perfectly fine with that yet puzzled as to why Apple would include only one USB Type-C port and not two?

Before I dive into it, cast your vote below.

Back to the question I posed in the opening paragraph: assuming there’s in fact just one USB port, how am I going to connect USB accessories like thumb drives, digital cameras or iOS devices if my latest and greatest MacBook Air is already connected to the charger via a USB cable?

For starters, and I’m taking a wild guess, Apple may have devised a wireless charging solution for the upcoming twelve-incher. If not, a USB Type-C splitter or hub may ship with the notebook, or sell separately.

A hub would let me plug multiple accessories into the new MacBook Air while using one of the shared ports for charging. Still, anyone wishing to plug a Lightning-enabled iOS device directly into the new Air might need to invest into a USB Type-C to Lightning connector, which doesn’t exist yet.

For those wondering, the USB 3.1 Type-C can carry a lot more power than any MagSafe connector Apple has ever designed. We’re talking up to hundred watts of power and data transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, or twice the 5Gbps available on USB 3.0.

USB 3.1 reversible cable Type C (image 002)

It also supports scalable power charging between three and five amperes, up from 1.5A available with standard USB 3.0 found on current Mac notebooks and desktops.

All checks indicate Apple must have chosen such a radical path of action in order to make the significantly revamped machine extremely portable. I won’t be surprised if it ends up being lighter and thinner than the iPad Air — according to an artist rendition provided by 9to5Mac, it’s considerably thinner than the existing 11-inch Air.

As crazy as it sounds, the biggest hurdle to shrinking down the Air is the ports: existing USB ports just take up too much space. Enter USB 3.1 Type-C, a new standard featuring markedly smaller footprint. The Type-C receptacle opening measures just 8.4-by-2.6mm, which puts it close to USB 2.0 Micro-B size-wise.

12-inch-MacBook-Air-sides-render

Given the drastic shrinkage of the Air and the adoptiong of the new USB 3.1 Type-C, existing plugs and receptacles won’t work with the new, tiny USB port. Therefore, adapters will be needed to plug USB 3.0 products into the Air’s USB 3.1 Type-C port.

If it’s any consolation, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group said last year that the USB 3.1 Type-C design scales for future USB bus performance so Type-C ports and connectors should remain unchanged in years to come.

It shouldn’t be too long until Apple clears up the confusion — the 12-inch MacBook Air is reportedly in production (if you believe supply chain chatter). On the other side of the spectrum, pesimists are leaving the timeline open to somewhere in 2015, probably around Apple’s developers conference in June or July.

12-inch-MacBook-Air-side-render

At any rate, Intel has just taken the wraps off its new “Broadwell-U” processors suited for a fanless, ultra-portable Air and vendors like Samsung, Dell and HP have already announced next-generation Ultrabooks around them so I imagine Apple won’t wait too long to release a MacBook Air that achieves a thin design without a fan.

Wrapping up, I really hope Apple won’t ditch MagSafe.

That technology has solved a real-life problem of tripping over power cables. Are we serioussly supposed to go back to the old days when tripping over the power cable would drag your Mac to the ground?

And you two cents?

Share your perspective with fellow readers and tell us why you voted the way you did down in the comments.

  • My feels :
    Meh

    • RubberDuckZilla

      Same, I feel like more is being taken away from than what is being given to this machine. As long as they stay away form he Pro with this life will be cool.

  • Utrarunner5

    I agree. Ditching the MagSafe would be a step back.

    • Bith

      Not, if they found a better way to charge…
      Remember, it’s Apple.

      • Utrarunner5

        I guess if they can still make it magnetic.

      • Bith

        or wireless 🙂

      • Utrarunner5

        Now that Truly sounds like apple.

      • KP

        Or magnetically attached wireless (inductive, think Qi), like magsafe but without any socket or exposed pins, just magnetizes to the body itself with no need for a port?

    • magsafe is magnetic, they could implement the magnetic recharge on other places, like the screen lid. Apple Watch style

  • DogeCoin

    i would rather have more, (perhaps 3 or 4), as long as all/most (bar the headphones jack) are the same port. so 3 usb 3.1 type ports and one headphone.

  • Captain Canada

    It needs another USB port otherwise it is everything I wish my 13′ Air was.

  • Bith

    If they ditch the MagSafe I’m sure that they provide a very good wireless charging solution.
    And if there will be only 1 usb, then they will/must include a hub in the package, and not just separately sold.

    • iKnowAppleBest

      No they won’t include a usb hub. It’s apple. They dont do such things. If it truly has one port its for a good reason. If it isn’t a good reason then they would have it on the computer in the first place.

  • Ariel

    USB Type – C: Yes
    Ditching MagSafe: No!
    How about both?

  • @Nikoli25

    MagSafe is a big selling point and it works great. I really doubt they will drop it, if anything they would upgrade it to fit the smaller form factor. I’m all for the type C connectors replacing all the regular USB port but 1 port is pushing it. Type C is much smaller and looks to be more fragile than regular USB and having one port means it will get a ton of use. Considering the size of the port I think one on each side makes more sense for both ergonomics at a desk (so that you can plug in left or right) and usability on the go without a USB hub. As a current MacBook Air owner I do realize that 99% of the time when I need more than 1 port I am at my desk, so a hub wouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

    Personally I feel that they should implement MagSafe technology in USB, thereby eliminating damaged USB ports. It also reduces dust and debree that accumulate in the ports that interferes with electrical signals.

    As for the screen, there are 2 key features I think are needed. Retna and edge to edge glass like the MacBook pros. Reducing the bezels was very much needed, But getting rid of them would make cleaning much easier and improve the overall aesthetics of the computer.

  • Husam Hamed

    One USB = FAIL
    The more USB ports the better. mouse, hard drive, usb stick drive, iphone charging.. Etc.

    • A USB hub can always be bought if you need more than one USB although I agree one USB port is a step backwards because it is of course maybe there’s only one port for a reason…

      • Cameron

        tbh i dislike the use of usb hubs for both aesthetics and restrictive reasons.

    • Ian Leon

      They got rid of the floppy and the cd… The usb might be next. Mice are wireless, you can use airdrop and dropbox instead of a flash drive, you should not backup to hard drives, and the only thing thats left is the iPhone charging.

  • Rupinder

    This will be my first Mac that I purchase, so I’m really excited! I only use one USB porn for my mouse and keyboard currently so that’s not a problem for me.

    • :)

      Screenshotted. DYAC here I come.

      • Rupinder

        Oh god, I just noticed what I originally typed. LMAO

      • Dingle Berry

        You took a screenshot of that person’s comment? You, my friend are a loser.

      • :)

        OMG! Some random nobody on the internet called me a loser! How can I possibly go with my life?

      • BoardDWorld

        go on…

  • appleiphonetechuk

    This really cannot be seen as a MacBook Air, rather ( and i’m just throwing this out there) a iPad Pro. Think about it, it will be as portable and light as a iPad, but with the full functionality of Mac OS X. It’s actually very similar to a Microsoft Surface with just one USB port, headphone jack but with an inbuilt keyboard and trackpad. I think this is aimed at replacing an iPad Air 2 and MacBook Air with one very powerful/capable yet portable device.

    • :)

      Not even comparable to SP3. You gotta be kidding me. SP3 has touchscreen. Keyboard is REMOVABLE. Just no. How the heck are you gonna say this is an iPad pro when it doesn’t have a touchscreen LOL.

  • john diaz

    This people take forever to bring change to their devices and when they finally do it’s berely noticeable wtf apple why so cliche.

  • daniel awde

    Greeting my fellow americans, I’m using macbook pro for over 4 years. I was planning to buy a new one, but looking at the latest macbook prototype or maybe example. Ive lost all hope in humanity right now

    • 9to5Slavery

      Changes are always controversial, but you may never know it can be a future standard. Stay positive my friend.

  • JulianZH

    Someday I will buy a Mac so I can fall deeper into my debt of death.

    • George

      You can die as an isheep

      • JulianZH

        ??? I mainly use windows and I tried android for 3 yrs. what’s wrong with picking Mac?

  • Mr. Luigi

    I have read that the keys on the keyboard will be closer together. The article wasn’t specific about how much smaller, but as a user of several different Macs I hope this “rumor” is wrong. I am not a world class typist, but I am sensitive enough to the spacing of the keys that it compromises my typing when I move from one keyboard to another with different dimensions.

  • Feivl

    What about the 13′ version? Will there be one, and if yes, will it be redesigned too? I really love the screen-size of my current air!

    • BoardDWorld

      I tend to think that the 11″ & 13″ Airs are both going to be axed eventually. I would image the next Retina Air on the list is going to be 15″

      • Feivl

        15″Air? I dont bend so!

      • BoardDWorld

        The only reason the iPhone 6’s bend is because of the way the glass fastens to the body. In Apples & others bend tests you see it’s the first thing to pop off. Simple drop tests often show it popping off and they just pushed the glass back on. A friend of mine received her new 6 with the glass lifted. It’s the same reason the iPad Air 2 that’s thinner and larger has no problems at all holding up to bend tests. The wide frame that’s glued directly onto the glass holds it very firm.

      • Feivl

        Good to know. Thanks!

  • Chocolatewe

    Needs 2 USB 3 AT LEAST for me to be interested. Also ditching magsafe? Oh no very bad idea

  • mrgerbik

    would be an issue to put a female usb connector piggybacked on the back of the charge cable connector?

    Even so, one usb is lame.

  • Taking away an advantage of the MacBook Air over the Surface Pro (an
    additional USB 3.0 port built-in), removing both the dedicated
    video-out port and the charging port, and removing the SD card expansion, just makes it even less versatile than the Surface Pro 3…as-if being 1/3rd
    as versatile wasn’t low enough.

    Something tells me this is Apple pulling yet another iPod Touch 4.5/iPhone 5c move. Removing key aesthetics that make the product appealing in order to tempt users to cough up more cash for the appealing version…only time will tell.

    • BoardDWorld

      It depends where their price points are heading, is the Retina Air going to be significantly cheaper than the current Airs & will Pros drop in turn with them?

      • That’ll be a very welcome change, but I doubt it’ll be low enough to justify it’s price tag compared to the competition.

  • Seriously, one USB port?

  • 9to5Slavery

    DISPLAY PORT??? 4K?!

  • Ian Leon

    I wish they had leaked the thing that connects to the weird usb thing

  • Ian Leon

    Maybe its an ipad with a built in keyboard

  • Ian Leon

    Its crazy how many inbetween products theyre making. Iphone, iphone plus, ipad mini, ipad, macbook air 11, this thing, mac book air 13

  • Dan

    Maybe they will have several editions, 100$ per additional usb ports.

  • W3PYF

    My main gripe is elimination of the SD slot. I am so sick of schlepping my 15″ 2010 MBP waiting for a retina Air.

  • Casey

    I think it’s GREAT and here’s why and what I think most people are missing. Currently I tote a Retina MacBook Pro back and forth to work. I would have bought an Air instead as I don’t need that much power, but I wanted a retina display on the laptop for when I use it at home.

    When I come to work I have to plug in 2 external monitors, a wired keyboard and mouse, headphones, and ethernet adapter into the laptop. To make this manageable I’m using a Belkin hub that allows me to use one thunderbolt port for one of the monitors, the keyboard and mouse, headphones, and ethernet. Then I use the second thunderbolt port for the second monitor, and then there’s the MagSafe power connector. Occasionally I get the thunderbolt connections reversed and my monitors are displaying opposite of what they should be until I fix it, and in the narrow dark area under my desk where my laptop sits on top of a set of drawers, it’s difficult to align the Thunderbolt connections correctly as well. The only way I could use a single thunderbolt port would be to buy Apple Cinema Displays that can be chained to a single port, which I refuse to do until they are available in Retina.

    This scenario is considerably better than things used to be before Thunderbolt, and is something many laptop-in-the-office users complain about, since Apple laptops have never had a docking port/bay. Docking ports on other brands are big and the bays are big and clunky – not what consumers would want from apple, and screw up the aesthetics of the laptop for the majority of users who wouldn’t use it.

    Now with this I can come to work, plug in ONE CORD and everything “just works”. Totally Apple-style, and totally something I would value. I plan on buying one of these as soon as it comes out regardless because I want a Retina MacBook Air, but if this allows me to have a single, reversible plug to connect to power and all my accessories at work or home, it will be awesome. I personally hope that it does NOT use wireless charging, as I don’t use or like wireless anything.

    This would allow seamless transition between truly portable laptop mode (nothing plugged in, or maybe just a single device at a coffee shop), and desktop/office mode (on A/C power, all your accessories, maybe external display(s)/keyboard). I think the people who want to use a laptop on their desk with 15 cords chained directly to it are attached to the limitations that laptops used to put on us. Yes, they could have stood to put more than one USB-C port on it, and I am sure they will when the Pros follow down this road, but for the Air one is sufficient.

    Now the question is, why USB-C rather than Lightning? Does this mean that iOS devices will be moving to industry-standard USB-C in the future as well? I don’t know about USB-C until I get to see/use it, but Lightning is a fantastic and durable connector!

  • Renato Martins

    less usb, more expensive – apple’s logic

  • Nesly Lacroix

    Another reason Apple might opt for just one port is drive down cost resulting in more profit. I hope they don’t ditch MagSafe. It’s an Apple differentiator besides being very practical.

  • bob

    don’t care I want a 17″ macbook pro retina.