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Apple to launch entry level 13.3-inch MacBook with Retina display in Q2, report says

A report out of Asia on Sunday claims Apple is preparing a new entry level 13.3-inch MacBook offering that boasts a screen resolution comparable to a MacBook Pro, but comes with a price tag closer to that of a MacBook Air.

According to a report from Digitimes' research arm, Apple's low-end MacBook will be priced in line with, or slightly above, its MacBook Air laptop, which starts at $999. A more expensive version that doubles the amount of onboard flash storage to 256GB sells for $1,199.

Korean display maker LG is said to begin ramping up production of a-Si panels with a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels at the end of May or early June. That screen resolution is major jump from the 1,440-by-900 pixel panel currently deployed in the MacBook Air, and would qualify as a Retina display.

Whether Apple intends to market the purported laptop as part of the MacBook Air or MacBook lines remains to be seen. If the device does come with "Air" branding, it would be the first to feature a Retina display, bringing Apple's thin-and-light up to par with the MacBook and MacBook Pro families.

Apple was seeking to strike a deal with a Chinese panel manufacturer in a bid to lower build costs, but was ultimately unsuccessful due to unnamed issues, the report said.

As for assembly, Quanta will reportedly handle 70 percent of orders, while Foxconn takes the remaining 30 percent. Apple is purportedly aiming to ship six million units in 2018, though Digitimes expects units ales to be closer to four million.

The report echoes recent predictions from well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who in a note to investors last week said Apple is working to release a revamped MacBook Air model sometime in the second quarter of 2018.

Finally, today's report claims Apple suppliers have started parts shipments for refreshed iPad and iPad Pro models, which are expected to ship in the second quarter and second half of 2018, respectively. While the entry level version is likely to see only minor internal upgrades, some rumors suggest Apple is working to implement the TrueDepth camera system and Face ID in its next-generation iPad Pro lineup.