Getting started with the MacBook Air M2 (2022): a serious leap forward
MacBook Air (2022) specifications
Price: From $1,199 / AU$1,899, $1,099 for education (US only)
CPU: Apple M2
Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display (2560 x 1664), up to 500 nits of brightness
Battery life: 18 hours of video playback (nominal)
Loading: MagSafe/Thunderbolt, up to 67W
Memory: 8 to 24 GB
Storage: 256 GB to 2 TB
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches
Lester: 2.7 pounds
The new MacBook Air M2 (2022) looks so good, you’re going to wonder if you should pay for a MacBook Pro. Compared to the previous MacBook Air M1, you get a more powerful M2 chip, a bigger and brighter 13.6-inch display and an improved 1080p webcam in an extremely portable design that’s 20% smaller than the previous model.
The problem? The new MacBook Air starts at $1,199 / AU$1,899, which is $200 / AU$400 more than the MacBook Air M1 and only $100 / AU$100 less than the new 2022 13-inch MacBook Pro with the same M2 chip.
I just got acquainted with the new 2022 MacBook Air and came away impressed with its display, sound, and sleek redesign (especially the new Midnight Blue color). But the price is steep for a MacBook Air considering people are used to paying $999 / AU$1,499 for a laptop of this class.
The 2022 MacBook Air definitely has a chance to make our best laptops list. Here are the pros and cons so far after our first hands-on experience with Apple’s latest laptop.
MacBook Air M2 (2022): price and release date
The 2022 MacBook Air doesn’t yet have a specific release date or even a pre-order date, but Apple says this laptop will launch in July. The starting price is $1,199 / AU$1,899, which is the highest price we’ve seen in a while for an Air. But Apple is keeping the MacBook Air M1 in the lineup for $999 / AU$1,499.
The $1,199 / AU$1,899 configuration of the MacBook Air M2 includes an 8-core processor, an 8-core GPU, 8 GB of unified memory (RAM) and 256 GB of SSD storage. The $1,499 / AU$2,349 model upgrades to a 10-core GPU for more graphics power and a 512GB SSD.
Note that the $1,199 / AU$1,899 Air comes with a 30W USB-C power adapter and the $1,499 / AU$2,349 model includes a dual-port USB-C adapter of 35 W, which allows you to charge two devices at once.
If you want to upgrade to 16GB of Unified Memory, it will cost $200 / AU$300 and 24GB will cost $400 / AU$600. Storage options range from 500GB ($200 / AU$300) to 2TB ($800 / AU$1,200). Unfortunately, the 67W power adapter that offers fast charging costs an extra $20 / AU$30.
Design and colors of the MacBook Air M2 (2022)
The first thing I noticed about the new 2022 MacBook Air is how small and light it is. The weight has only slightly decreased (2.7 pounds from 2.8 pounds), but the overall design is 20% smaller in volume compared to the MacBook Air M1. And it’s also thinner, at 0.4 inches compared to 0.6 inches for the older model.
At the same time, the MacBook Air M2 doesn’t feel too light, unlike some systems made with magnesium. It is still a very strong unibody aluminum design.
Apple gives you four color options with the 2022 MacBook Air, including Midnight (blue), Starlight (pale gold), Space Gray, and Silver. I’m a big fan of the Midnight option because it changes from dark blue to lighter blue depending on how the light hits it. The Midnight MacBook Air has personality without being too loud.
MacBook Air M2 (2022) sockets
The 2022 MacBook Air minimizes ports on the front, with just two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports on the left side. There is also a MagSafe connector for charging on the left. The right side houses a headphone jack for those still using wired headphones.
Personally, I like having an SD card slot in the 14-inch MacBook Pro, which also has an HDMI port. But I understand why Apple would want to reserve those ports for the more expensive Pro model. Still, an extra USB port on the right side of the MacBook Air chassis would have been nice.
Unfortunately, the new MacBook Air does not support more than one external monitor at a time. That’s also true for the 2022 MacBook Pro. And that’s a shame because other high-end laptops can support dual external displays, such as the Dell XPS 13.
MacBook Air M2 (2022) display and speakers
The new MacBook Air has the most Pro-level display yet, and that’s thanks to an increased brightness of 500 nits. It’s a bright and colorful panel, and it’s now a bit larger at 13.6-inches (was 13.3-inches), thanks to Apple reducing the bezels.
The 2560 x 1664 pixel screen looked crisp when I watched footage from Apple TV Plus’ Prehistoric Planet. And I could make out fine details on the muzzle of a particularly menacing dinosaur.
With support for 1 billion colours, wide color support (P3) and True Tone built in, this is one of the best displays for the money this side of an OLED panel. And while I could do without the notch at the top, it’s not too distracting.
When it comes to audio, the new Air is the best laptop in the lineup yet, thanks to a quad-speaker audio system located between the screen and the keyboard. During a demo, I was very impressed with the volume and clarity. But bass is definitely lacking compared to the Pro.
MacBook Air M2 (2022) specs and performance
Watching the MacBook Air M2 process seven simultaneous streams in Final Cut Pro again gave me the impression that this system felt like a MacBook Pro in terms of power. The M2 chip is a serious upgrade, promising up to 40% faster performance when editing complex edits in Final Cut and 20% faster performance in Photoshop when applying filters.
There’s a 10-core GPU option for faster graphics performance and better gaming, but keep in mind that’s reserved for the more expensive $1,499 MacBook Air configuration. There’s 8GB of Unified Memory to boot, but it’s configurable up to 16GB or 24GB.
MacBook Air M2 (2022): Webcam
One of the most welcome upgrades to the 2022 MacBook Air is the 1080p webcam, which captures a sharper image than the previous 720p camera. Additionally, Apple says you should get twice as good low-light performance with this sensor.
In the new MacBook Air demo area, the image quality improved a lot when I waved at the camera in FaceTime. But we’ll have to see how good this camera is in different lighting conditions.
MacBook Air M2 (2022): battery life and charging
Even with the downsizing, the MacBook Air promises epic endurance. Apple rates the new 2022 MacBook Air for 18 hours of video playback and 15 hours of wireless web browsing. However, none of these numbers differ from what Apple promises with the MacBook Air M1. We’ll put the new Air through our battery test to assess those claims.
The 2022 MacBook Air charging image is a little more confusing than it should be. The starter configuration comes with a 30W USB power adapter, but the 35W dual-port USB power adapter costs an additional $20 / AU$30 (it’s included with the $1,499 model / AU$1,899). And the 67W USB-C charger, which supports 50% fast charging in 30 minutes, costs $20 / AU$30 more than the standard charger. I would go with this option.
MacBook Air M2 (2022): macOS Ventura
macOS Ventura, which will be launched this fall, brings many changes. The highlight here is Stage Manager, a new method of multitasking that puts the app you’re working on front and center while making it easy to switch between other open apps. We’re also impressed with a new Continuity Camera feature that will let you seamlessly use your iPhone as a webcam during video calls in macOS Ventura.
Other highlights include the ability to undo sends in the Mail app, edit or undo sent messages in Messages, new sharing and collaboration tools for Safari, and Passkeys to override your passwords. . Additionally, Metal 3 support promises to deliver better games for Mac.
MacBook Air M2 (2022): outlook
Based on our first impressions, the new 2022 MacBook Air could be one of the best laptops of the year. The design is delightfully portable and the display is just awesome in person. I also like the powerful sound system and the potential of the powerful M2 chip.
So who would get the $1,299 / AU$1,999 13-inch MacBook Pro? Anyone who wants even more power (thanks to its active cooling system) and the 10-core GPU standard. Additionally, the Pro offers even longer battery life of up to 20 hours of video playback.
But for the vast majority of buyers, the new MacBook Air will be Pro enough. Stay tuned for our full review and test results.