"As of right now, at least on paper, If I was walking into a potential notebook purchase again and I was faced with an XPS 13 and a 13-inch MacBook Air, I'd choose Dell's latest in a heartbeat," Evangelho writes.
Now, Evangelho points out that Apple is almost certainly preparing a new MacBook Air, but the takeaway here is quite clear: Apple's competitors in the PC space, armed with Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) brand-new 14-nanometer Broadwell processors, are putting out machines that in many ways make Apple's current MacBook Air lineup look quite dated.
I don't doubt that Apple will need to respond fairly soon with its own Broadwell-powered MacBook Air models, but the question is what will they be exactly?
9to5Mac has the scoop on the new MacBook Air
According to well-respected Apple website 9to5Mac, Apple has completely redesigned its next generation MacBook Air. Indeed, 9to5Mac reports that the new MacBook Air is "so thin that Apple employees are said to refer to the device as the 'Macbook Stealth' internally."
9to5Mac's report also makes a number of interesting claims, including that the new Mac will offer a 12-inch display (right in between the current 11-inch and 13-inch models), as well as a radical change to the number and types of ports on the machine.
In particular, 9to5Mac claims that Apple plans to do away with the regular USB ports, SD card slot, Thunderbolt, and the MagSafe charging standard in the new design. These will reportedly be replaced with a single USB Type-C port (for more on the various USB types, read CNET's excellent article here).
Is this leak legitimate?
While there's no way for us to know if 9to5Mac's report accurately details the upcoming MacBook Air, I do think that the new MacBook Air will offer substantial changes and improvements from the current model.
While I do think a redesigned MacBook Air is on the way this year, Apple might want to breathe a little more life into the current MacBook Air designs first.
How could Apple "breathe more life" into the current Airs?
PCWorld reports that Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, claimed that "80 percent" of PC vendor resources over the last six months "have been on Skylake anyway." This is due to the fact that the Broadwell chips can drop into the same logic boards that the prior generation Haswell chips were able to.
So here's one potential move that Apple could make: it could take the current 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models and simply pop in the new Broadwell chips for an immediate performance/battery life boost.
Apple could also swap in higher quality IPS displays (though Apple could keep them at current resolutions) to improve the competitiveness of its machines without a huge cost increase. Then, when Intel's Skylake comes out later this year, Apple could launch the big MacBook Air redesign and offer the current models (albeit with Broadwell CPUs) at lower prices.
Is that the path that Apple will likely take?
Although the above scenario is possible, I don't think it's too likely. The current MacBook Air design is quite old at this point, and in order to keep gaining share from Windows-based PCs, Apple should get its redesigned MacBook Air machines out as soon as possible.