The MacBook Air has long served as the cheapest MacBook you can buy, with a starting price of $999. It's beloved by users, which is probably why Apple hasn't changed much — save for upgrading the processors — over the past several years.
One feature MacBook Air consumers have asked for is a Retina display, one of Apple's screens that make text and images noticeably sharper. It's the sort of display Apple includes on its more expensive MacBook and MacBook Pro, but its omission from the MacBook Air has been one way Apple has managed to keep the price below $1,000.
The regular 12-inch MacBook starts at $1,299. It has some premium features the MacBook Air doesn't, like newer stereo speakers, a larger trackpad and a Retina screen. But it has fewer ports — just a single USB-C port instead of a full-size (albeit aging) USB port and an SD card slot, which are both offered in the MacBook Air. At $1,299, it even has a modest Intel Core m3, which is less powerful than the MacBook Air's Intel Core i5 chip.
In other words, a new $999 MacBook Air with a Retina display with the same internals it currently has would be a better computer than the $1,299 MacBook.
I don't think Apple is going to do that. There needs to be a hardware sacrifice to justify the lower price. I'm just not sure where.
It's possible Apple moves its $1,599 Core i5 MacBook down to the $1,299 price that the entry-level costs, and then eliminates the Core i5 chip from the entry-level MacBook Air and moves to a lower-powered Core m3 chip
At least in that situation, the MacBook would remain the better computer at $1,299 and there would be room for a $999 MacBook Air with a Retina display. I hope it adds multiple USB-C ports, too.