The new Apple MacBook Air 2022 (with the new M2 processor) ushers in the biggest redesign for Apple’s super-light, super-thin laptop since it first appeared in 2008. Among the changes: a new chassis with refined, uniform curves and a choice of four colors; a bigger and brighter screen; and the addition of Apple’s super-speedy M2 processor. Oh, and Apple’s MagSafe connector has returned. This MacBook Air begins a new era for the Air line—and not just because of it’s design and components. The Air’s price now starts at $1,199, a higher entry point than before.
Ever since it first debuted 14 years ago, the MacBook Air has stood at the front of Apple’s laptop lineup, carrying the banner as the lightest MacBook you could buy (only the short-lived 12-inch MacBook Pro was lighter). Over the years, the Air line also made more compromises than the MacBook Pro series, with fewer configuration options and less robust performance. Those compromises came as a trade-off for getting Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop.
The MacBook Air 2022 continues the tradition of being Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop—and for the first time manages to exceed the entry-level MacBook Pro 13.3-inch 2022 (M2 Processor) on some specs. The new laptop also stands out for its blazing performance.
Is this new MacBook Air with its M2 processor worth spending more money on it than the MacBook Air (M1 Processor) currently available at $999? I’ve been testing the new model for more than a week to help you decide.
The Apple MacBook Air 2022 In A Nutshell
- 1080p webcam
- Great performance
- Strong battery life
- Average audio output
- Pricier than before
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Apple MacBook Air 2022 (M2 Processor) Technical Specifications
Price: From $1,199 | CPU: Apple M2 with 8 core CPU, 8-core or 10-core GPU | Display: 13.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,664 pixels, 224 pixels per inch, touchscreen, 500 nits | Memory: 8/16/24GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Battery life: Up to 18 hours | Weight: 2.7 pounds | Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches | Colors: Silver, Space Gray, Midnight, Starlight
Apple MacBook Air 2022 Design
The MacBook Air has always been a looker, but it’s never looked as good as it does now. Gone are the tapered edges on the lid, which always made the Air look slimmer than the competition. Now, the lid is completely flat and uniform in thickness, with a steeper curve on the underside of the laptop than before. The effect is to make the entire laptop look super-thin, not just at the edges. The new Air measures just 0.44 inches thick, as compared to the previous generation’s variable thickness that ranged from 0.16-inch at the edges to 0.63 inch at its thickest.
It’s remarkably light, too, coming in at 2.7 pounds, down by .1 pound from the earlier model. The combination of thin and light has always been the Air’s calling card and this model retains that mantle.
The overall industrial design of the laptop comes now matches the latest MacBook Pro series. The Apple logo on the lid is bigger, and the words MacBook Air are gone from the bottom of the display. The larger 13.6-inch display (more on that later) doesn’t meaningfully impact the Air’s footprint—this model has the same width, but measures a mere 0.1-inch deeper than before. But the screen squeaks far into the corners of the chassis, leaving thin bezels all around. Unfortunately, that design led to the addition of a controversial iPhone-like “notch” to accommodate the webcam.
Fortunately, the webcam on the MacBook Air 2022 finally jumps from 720p to 1080p resolution. That bests the webcam quality on the new MacBook Pro 2022, and brings Apple in line with the vast majority of PC competition. If you do a lot of video calls, expect to see a tangible improvement in video quality thanks to this webcam’s boosted resolution.
Another design change unique to the new Air: The stereo speaker grilles on either side of the keyboard have been replaced by four speakers. The speakers sit between the laptop lid and the keyboard and spray the audio at the display where it bounces off, and back into your ears. The speakers are almost invisible unless you’re really looking for them.
The speakers sound good—just not as full or as rich to my ears as on the MacBook Pro. The Air excels in playing spatial audio tracks, such as those Apple uses in Apple Music. Play a spatial audio track on these speakers and the effect is powerful and all-encompassing, verging on overwhelming. With spatial audio music, this laptop sounds amazing.
Apple MacBook Air 2022 Keyboard
The keyboard remains largely the same. Only the top row of keys has changed, with the addition of full-height function keys, and at right a matching-sized power button a Touch ID fingerprint sensor in it. This change from half-height keys makes these buttons easier to press than previously.
The keyboard otherwise matches the QWERTY layout found on the MacBook Pro, with enough travel stability in the keys to be comfortable for touch-typing.
Apple MacBook Air 2022 Display
As noted earlier, the dimensions of the new MacBook Air are similar to the last version. To fit a larger display, Apple borrowed from the iPhone, introducing a cut-out, or “notch,” to the display for the camera and ambient light sensor.
Like on the MacBook Pro, the cut-out fits exactly into the menu bar at the top of the screen. Which means you barely notice it and when you’re playing video, it vanishes altogether as the video sits below that cut-out.
This is the best display ever on a MacBook Air, using Apple’s Liquid Retina panel to produce detailed images with realistic colors. The resolution is the same as before, as is the color handling technology. This display boosts the brightness to 500 nits, it a little more than the previous MacBook Air—and not as bright as MacBook Pro models using the Liquid Retina XDR display. It looks great, whether you’re typing a document or watching a movie.
Apple MacBook Air 2022 Performance
This MacBook Air is only the second MacBook to get second generation Apple silicon, the M2 processor. The MacBook Pro 13-inch 2022, of course, was the first.
The M2 comes in two versions, both with an eight-core CPU. The graphics processing unit (GPU) is what differentiates the two. One has eight GPU cores, the other has 10. The MacBook comes standard with the eight GPU cores. While the MacBook Pro 13-inch comes with the 10-core GPU as standard, this more powerful GPU is only available as a step-up for the Air.
Another distinction of the M2 chip is how much system memory can be added. Where the M1 chip could only be configured to a maximum of 16GB of RAM, the M2 can work with up to 24GB. The standard configuration of the Air comes 8GB of RAM.
So, how does the MacBook Air with the M2 chip perform?
It may not have the sea-change speed increase seen when Apple changed from Intel to M1, but I could see a significant performance improvement from M1 to M2 when using the laptop for everyday tasks and more intensive scenarios. If you’re trading up from an Intel MacBook Air to this one, expect to see a tremendous difference.
The fanless MacBook Air operates silently. At no point in my testing—which included processor and graphics intensive video editing—did this laptop slow down. By contrast, the Pro models have fans so that you can push the processor harder for longer.
The processor here is so fast that it’s sometimes hard to see why you would need to consider the MacBook Pro. Unless you consistently work with heavy-duty apps or need a bigger display for extensive video editing, for instance, the MacBook Air 2022 is likely fast and effective enough to power your creativity.
Apple MacBook Air 2022 Battery Life
Battery life on this laptop remains extremely good, easily a full working day and much more to go. You’ll rarely feel you need to carry the charging plug with you. Apple quotes battery life at up to 18 hours, and that feels about right in my testing.
The MagSafe charging connector is back, too. MagSafe is the cool magnetic connector Apple invented so if somebody tripped on your cable, instead of the laptop flying off the desk (a possibility with something as light as this), the cable would simply detach. It was absent from Apple laptops for some time, but it’s back now on the latest MacBook Pro models and here. You can use either of the two USB Type-C sockets to charge, but if you prefer to use your USB Type-C ports to attach peripherals, MagSafe is the way to go. And, it’s admittedly satisfying and fun to hear the MagSafe connector snick into place.
By the way, if you choose the $1,499 model of the Air 2022, it comes not only with a more advanced version of the M2 processor (with the more powerful GPU), but it also boosts storage from the standard 256GB SSD to 512GB. And you get Apple’s $59 35W power adapter with two USB Type-C ports, so it can charge your laptop and one other USB Type-C device simultaneously. That Air 2022 also is fast-charge capable with Apple’s optional $59 67W USB-C Power Adapter.
Final Word on the Apple MacBook Air 2022 (M2 Processor)
This new MacBook Air is the best MacBook Air Apple has made, by a country mile. And it is the most significant and noteworthy update to the Air since its introduction. This model is astonishingly good across-the-board, and these improvements solidify the MacBook Air’s role as the default consideration for most buyers considering a MacBook laptop.
Apple has kept the previous model around, and it’s still a compelling option. After all, the M1 version of the MacBook Air is $200 cheaper and offers fast performance, a light weight and the same battery life.
But the new 2022 M2 model is just all-around better: lighter, faster, with a brighter display and MagSafe charging. And it looks stunning and feels terrific to type on. If your budget supports the extra $200, go with the MacBook Air M2—the webcam upgrade alone will make the experience more enjoyable.
Unless you need to run power-hungry apps for long periods of time, this laptop is likely to be more than enough laptop for most users. This is not just Apple’s best-ever general-use laptop, but arguably the best lightweight laptop you’ll find anywhere.