Why Apple needs to make a 2-in-1 MacBook

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) in a studio with lid partially closed showing Apple logo
(Image credit: Future)

For years now, the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft have been manufacturing 2-in-1 laptops that offer consumers the benefits of having a touch display and a multi-mode form factor. Despite that, Apple’s stance on the convertible form factor has remained resolute. 

More than a decade after consumer laptops touting the 2-in-1 design hit the shelves, and there isn’t even so much as a shadow of a hybrid MacBook or iPad. And that’s for good reason. 

We can all pretend that Apple’s main motivation is the fact that it will be quite an undertaking to make the macOS touch-friendly, but we all know that won’t keep the brand from creating 2-in-1 MacBooks if it really wanted to. It really boils down to one thing: Apple wants consumers to keep buying all of its devices, and having a 2-in-1 option will disrupt both its MacBook and iPad sales. 

But tides have been turning against Apple for quite some time now. Its products, even the newer ones, are really starting to feel derivative. It hasn’t really done anything game-changing in a while. Even the look of its products have sort of gotten dated as the world is moving away from that minimalist aesthetic and looking to maximalist designs. And, even in the AI race, Apple is getting left behind.

This means that it needs to do something massive at WWDC 2023 to fix its fortunes. And rolling out one of the best 2-in-1 laptops might just do the trick, however late it may be in the game. 

It makes economic sense

Now before you get it in your head to send me hate mail because there’s been no indication that Apple will do that… I mean, obs! I’m not saying that it will, and at this point, all signs point to a 15-inch MacBook Air and the next-generation iMac anyway.

What I’m saying is that it will behove Apple to throw its hat in the 2-in-1 ring, and soon. After all, PC sales have dropped drastically this year, affecting pretty much every single manufacturer. Times have been hard, especially with all the mass layoffs, and it no longer makes sense for people to spend money on a laptop and also purchase a tablet separately, which has always been Apple’s business model. 

A MacBook Air already costs a small fortune, while the cheapest of the best iPads on offer is the older generation $329 / £369 / AU$549 one. That’s a hefty sum if you need both for work or in your home. By offering less premium products and more solutions that help consumers save money, Apple not only encourages customer loyalty, but it might even help with its decreasing sales dilemma.

Adding versatility to the MacBook

People’s biggest reason to go for a convertible laptop rather than a conventional clamshell one is versatility. I’m a Mac person, but if I’m being honest, I haven’t owned a MacBook for about two years now (though I do still rely on my iMac for my editing needs). Instead, I’m relying on hybrids like the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and, more recently, the Lenovo Yoga Book 9 whose dual-screen setup expands its functionality even further. And, I have not been missing the MacBook. At all.

The brilliance of 2-in-1 laptops is that they don’t just come with a touch screen and stylus support, which already allows you to do more on them, but they also offer different modes for different needs. If you need to organize your day on your digital planner, take notes, or read a book, the tablet form makes it convenient for you. If you want to unwind after work, you’ve got the tent mode. If you present a report to your teammates, there’s a mode for that too.

Not that the iPad isn’t capable of being Apple’s 2-in-1 alternative. Hook it up to a Magic Keyboard, and you’ve got yourself a decent tool for doing work on the go. But the mobile apps for iPadOS are simply not the most seamless to use – even the Google Docs suite are a little annoying to use.

We need a MacBook that will let you seamlessly go from typing emails and documents to editing your video with a stylus without the mobile app limitations you get on the iPad.

Tired of the same derivative MacBook design 

Besides, no matter how hard Apple is innovating its MacBooks’ design, things are really starting to get boring. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this minimalist MacBook look now feels a little dated – especially when comparing it to what Apple’s rivals are putting out in the world lately, as if Apple has simply forgotten to have fun.

Not that I don’t appreciate Apple bringing back more ports to the MacBook Pros, but apart from slight design changes, we’re getting the same general MacBook aesthetic as before. And it’s all starting to look and feel derivative – not a good sign from a company that used to be the leader in innovations.

That isn’t to say that rolling out a MacBook 2-in-1 is going to be its saving grace, but it’s a start. If nothing else, if might just get Apple off of this slump it’s been in for a while now.

Michelle Rae Uy
Computing Reviews and Buying Guides Editor

Michelle Rae Uy is the Computing Reviews and Buying Guides Editor here at TechRadar. She's a Los Angeles-based tech, travel and lifestyle writer covering a wide range of topics, from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best hiking trails. She's an ambivert who enjoys communing with nature and traveling for months at a time just as much as watching movies and playing sim games at home. That also means that she has a lot more avenues to explore in terms of understanding how tech can improve the different aspects of our lives.