Against all odds, we got a look at the brand new MacBook Air (M2, 2022) moments after it was officially unveiled at WWDC 2022.
A lot of speculation has surrounded this mighty little laptop in recent weeks, from a potential slew of color choices to the chance it might not show up at the event due to manufacturing issues caused by Covid-19 lockdowns across China. We’re glad Apple was able to outperform and deliver, but will the MacBook Air with M2 be a worthy upgrade from its predecessor?
Thankfully, was at the in-person event – one of the first in years after pandemic-related lockdowns – and managed to spend a decent amount of time kicking the tires of the new laptop to create our first hands. in the review of the new, atmospherically thin Air.
The current MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is our pick for the best laptop you can buy right now, and from our brief stint with the MacBook Air 2022 (powered by the newly announced Apple M2 chip), there’s a good chance the Apple have another winner on their hands.
price and availability
Apple has yet to announce a delivery date for the new laptop, but pre-orders are now available from June 6th.
This MacBook Air will be available in July starting at $1,199 (£1,249). The M1-based Air will continue to be available for $999, though education users can buy one for just under $899.
That jump in price is understandable, but it does mean it feels like a lower value than the older MacBook Air, which is a shame as one of the best things about the 20202 MacBook Air was its low price and excellent performance.
One of the most radical design overhauls we’ve seen Apple make to an iconic product has reinvigorated the new MacBook Air, and while you may regret the loss of the Air’s iconic wedge, it looks much more modern and sleek. As the name suggests, the MacBook Air is the thinnest and lightest MacBook Apple makes, and with the new 2022 MacBook Air model, Apple has made further improvements, reducing the overall size and weight of the unibody design, while actually increasing the screen size.
The company’s engineers achieved this in part by shrinking the bezels that surround the display by as much as 30% (top and bottom, 20% thinner on the sides). The chunky edges of previous MacBook Air displays were starting to look pretty outdated, especially when compared to high-end Windows rivals like the Dell XPS 13, so the slim bezels on the new model make this MacBook Air look a lot more modern.
The Air’s webcam has been upscaled to 1080p to match those found on the new MacBook Pros, and this increase in resolution (along with improved imaging and low-light handling with the new M2 chip) will be a welcome addition to anyone who relies on video conferencing or make video calls to friends and family. And in this age of hybrid work, that’s most of us.
Less welcome will be the news that the combination of a larger webcam and slimmer bezels means there’s a visible “notch” that wraps around the webcam and drops into the menu bar. This is the same notch found on the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) and the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021), and when it debuted with these MacBooks, it proved to be divisive.
We didn’t mind the notch on these other systems, as Apple expanded the screen upwards, giving you more screen real estate, which made the switch well worth it.
The same happens with the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), which comes with a 13.6-inch screen, compared to the 13.3-inch of the previous model. The resolution has also been increased from 2560 x 1600 to 2560 x 1664. That means the larger screen doesn’t lose sharpness.
The new Liquid Retina display is also brighter at 100nits, so it’s now 500nits, and it now also supports a billion colors. Since our time with the M2-equipped MacBook Air 2022, we’ve been able to see an immediate improvement in screen vibrancy. However, ProMotion is not supported.
Another big design change is, as we noted earlier, that the MacBook Air is no longer a “wedge” shape with a slimmer front and a thicker back. Instead, it’s uniform, bringing it in line with pretty much every other portable design Apple produces now.
We are also getting new colors. People who expect vibrant, pastel-like colors like the 24-inch iMac will be disappointed by the relatively understated Space Gray, Silver, Starlight and Midnight Blue colors. They, however, look good in person. We saw them all at the Apple event, and our favorite by far was Midnight Blue. Each color comes with matching power cords – an extremely Apple touch.
Out of the different shades available, the laptop has MagSafe charging (yes, it’s back), as well as two Thunderbolt ports and even a 3.5mm headphone jack. This legacy audio port makes sense when you consider the target market: education. Students still use a wide variety of wired headphones. The MacBook Air (M2) is also as thin and light as we’d expect: just 11mm thin and weighing in at 2.7lbs.
The standard base model MacBook Air will ship with a 30W charger, but you can choose to upgrade to a 67W adapter for $59, which can get you to 80% battery capacity in just 20 minutes.
Instead of a pair of speaker grilles, the new MacBook Air integrates two woofers and two tweeters between the keyboard and the display. In theory this should make for a better sound experience, but in the crowded space where we played with the laptop, it was hard to hear much. It is, although a much cleaner look.
In our hands-on time, we weren’t able to fully test the performance of the new MacBook Air, but we liked what we saw, including nearly a dozen 4K streams played simultaneously in iMovie.
The new M2 chip that powers it is a second-generation 5nm chip that Apple claims offers an 18% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU (now with 10 cores), and a 40% faster neural engine than its predecessor. . The base system comes with an 8-core GPU, but you can upgrade to a 10-core one.
The previous version of the laptop came with the Apple M1 SoC or system on a chip, which combines CPU, GPU and other components into an 8-core processor capable of surprisingly impressive performance.
The 2020 model was much more powerful than the Intel-powered version it replaced, running 3.5x faster in terms of CPU performance and 5x faster in GPU performance. The M2 chip brings a lot more to the table.
In our brief stint with the MacBook Air, which was running macOS Monterey, as the new macOS Ventura won’t be released until later this year, we’ve found it to be fast and responsive, even with multiple apps open at the same time. We had a quick game in Final Cut Pro, editing a movie with multiple 4K sources, and it performed brilliantly – and went completely silent thanks to the lack of fans. The system can also support 8K h.264 video and, for the first time, the ProRes format, although we weren’t able to experience any of that.
We’ll give the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) a more complete review soon, but our first contact with it shows that Apple may have another hit on its hands.