Alongside revealing details of a new version of macOS at WWDC22 in June, Apple introduced a redesigned MacBook Air with a new M2 processor (read our M2 MacBook Air review). It doesn’t replace the existing M1 version, however—rather, it’s a new higher-end version of the $999 model. Here’s everything you need to know about the new machine.
M2 MacBook Air: Release date
When Apple revealed the new MacBook Air at WWDC it confirmed that the new MacBook Air would start shipping in July.
The M2 MacBook Air starts at $1,199 in the U.S. and £1,249 in the U.K. There are two models that are priced as follows:
M2 Chip with 8‑Core CPU and 8‑Core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD: $1,199/£1,249.
M2 Chip with 8‑Core CPU and 10‑Core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD: $1,499/£1,549.
Apple will keep the M1 MacBook Air on sale at the same entry price of $999/£999. Previously there were two M1 MacBook Air models. The new M2 model replaces the top of the range M1 model at a lower price in the US (but the same price in the UK.)
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M2 MacBook Air: Design
Apple has dramatically changed the look of the MacBook Air with the latest update. The tapered look that it was famed is gone, replaced with a more traditional flat design that’s similar to the MacBook Pro. However, while the tapered edge gave the illusion of thinness, the overall dimensions are thinner than before.
M1 MacBook Air: 11.97in x 8.36in x 0.16-0.63in (30.41cm x 21.24cm x 0.41-1.61cm)
M2 MacBook Air: 11.97in x 8.46in x 0.44in (30.41cm x 21.5cm x 1.13cm)
Otherwise, the new MacBook Air is similar to the old model, with a recessed well for the Magic Keyboard but doesn’t have a visible speaker grill along the sides. The bezels around the display are significantly thinner as well.
M2 MacBook Air: Display
The 2022 MacBook Air features a larger 13.6-inch display, compared to a 13.3-inch display on the 2020 model. The new display uses Apple’s newer Liquid Retina technology, compared to the previous generation’s Retina display. The most notable difference being that the corners are rounded rather than square, but this will also have an impact on colors and contrast. The 14 in-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models have higher-end Liquid Retina XDR displays.
At 500 nits of maximum brightness, the M2 MacBook Air is 25 percent brighter than the M1 MacBook Air’s 400 nits. This brings the Air in line with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but places it far below the XDR display’s 1,000 nits. The MacBook Air also lacks the ProMotion technology of those models.
Apple introduced a screen notch for the camera with the MacBook Pro and the M2 MacBook Air follows this trend. The bezels around the screen are extremely thin compared to the older model (but not as thin as the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro) and the camera notch extends as far as the menu bar. As Apple explains, the notch actually gives you more usable space since the screen is taller. The area below the menu bar has the same 16:10 aspect ratio as before.
Apple has introduced new colors for a laptop for the first time in many years. However, while we expected the MacBook Air to launch in a variety of colors like the 24-inch iMac, Apple is only selling the new laptop in four options: silver and space grey like before, and starlight (which is a sort of champagne gold shade) and midnight (a bluey black), similar to the new iPhone SE colors. Each model comes with a color-matched MagSafe cable.
M2 MacBook Air: Specs
The new MacBook Air will use an M2 chip, which brings the same 8-core CPU and two additional graphics cores compared to the M1. Apple also claims that the M2 doesn’t just offer faster performance, if does so while using much less power, thought it’s rated for the same 18 hours of battery life. The M2 chip also ups the RAM allotment with up to 24GB (versus 16GB on the M1) and 50 percent more memory bandwidth.
Just like the M1 MacBook Air, the M2 model lacks a fan. Without a means of cooling itself Apple has to stop the MacBook Air from getting too hot, which generally means slowing the processor down when the going gets tough. So the M2 MacBook Pro, which has a fan, will actually run a little faster for longer periods of time.
The notch at the top of the screen accommodates a much better webcam than that found in the 2020 MacBook Air. Apple has added its newer 1080p webcam as seen in the iMac and the 2021 MacBook Pro models so FaceTime calls should be much clearer.
Unfortunately, turning its back on the tapered ‘wedge’ shape in favor of a new flat shape didn’t mean that there was room for more ports, so you won’t be seeing card readers or HDMI on this model. LIke the 2020 MacBook Air, the 2022 model will offer two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack (which now supports high-impedance headphones). However, Apple did add a MagSafe port so you won’t need to waste a Thunderbolt port on charging.
While the M2 MacBook Air has the same battery life as the M1 model, you can fill it up faster. The base model comes with a standard 30W USB-C Power Adapter, but the $1,499 model has a new 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter for charging two devices at once. You can also fast-charge the MacBook Air with a 67W USB-C Power Adapter or another from our list of the best MacBook Air chargers.