The MacBook Air just got a makeover, and not just because it’s now available in dark blue. Apple has just unveiled the latest version of its most popular laptop, which promises a huge performance boost thanks to the new integrated M2 chip, all wrapped up in a sleek design that borrows many things we loved about MacBook Pro models from Apple. Last year. .
The new MacBook Air launches in July and starts at $1,119, or $1,099 for education users. And after spending some time in the field, we think this might be the new best MacBook for most people to buy. Wondering if you should upgrade? Here are our first impressions.
The MacBook Air was already one of the thinnest and lightest laptops on the market, and it’s even thinner for 2022. The latest Air is 20% smaller overall than the 2020 model, with fewer thin edges half an inch thick. It’s all packed into an easy-to-grip 2.7-pound build.
But here’s what really caught my eye – for the first time in a long time, the MacBook will be available in a decent range of colors. The 2022 MacBook Air is available in Silver, Space Gray, Starlight (gold) and a particularly compelling Midnight option that coats the laptop in an attractive dark blue. It’s a refreshing change from the silver and space gray that most Macs have stuck to for the past few years, and gives the MacBook Air an extra weapon against similarly colored Windows laptops like the HP Dragonfly Elite and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4. been as intrigued by MacBook design since the 2017 Rose Gold MacBook, and the Midnight and Starlight Air models looked great in person.
Other key changes include a larger and brighter 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, made possible by thinner bezels. As with the 14-inch MacBook Pro, that comes at the expense of a webcam up top, but based on my many months with the latest Pro, I don’t find that terribly distracting. The new MacBook Air also borrows the same MagSafe charger we saw on the last Pro, which quickly attaches and detaches magnetically and helps keep your Mac from flying if someone trips on the cable. That dedicated charging port also means you’ll have access to the two USB-C Thunderbolt ports for your accessories and storage drives (though you can still charge via USB-C if you want).
The MacBook Air’s Magic Keyboard was faster than ever in my limited work time, and I was very happy to see the return of physical function keys for quickly adjusting things like brightness and volume. I really appreciated that extra touch on last year’s Pro models, and it makes quick shortcuts much easier to use than on the older-gen Touch Bar.
Many of us still video call most of the day, so I’m glad to see the new Air has a sharper 1080p FaceTime webcam (instead of 720p) that promises twice the resolution and low-light performance from the previous model thanks to the processing intelligence of this M2 chip inside. You’ll also get a quad-speaker sound system that supports Spatial Audio for 360-degree sound in compatible songs and movies.
Sure, the new MacBook Air looks great, but the biggest improvements are under the hood. When we reviewed the 2020 MacBook Air, which was the first to launch with Apple’s own M1 processor, we found it offered a huge leap in overall performance over its Intel-based predecessors. . The new model will see the debut of Apple’s second-generation M2 chip, which promises significant gains over this already fast chip.
The M2 has more transistors and memory bandwidth, which is a fancy way of saying it delivers up to 18% better overall performance than M1-powered MacBooks, while still being up to 1.9 times faster than a competing Intel-powered Windows laptop. The new processor has received an even bigger boost in terms of graphics, as Apple promises up to 35% better GPU performance than its M1 laptops. This should make the new MacBook Air even more reliable for doing intensive video editing or 3D rendering, as well as playing demanding Mac games.
We’ll have to put the MacBook Air through our usual tests to see how much better it is than the last-gen model, but it makes a promising first impression. Swiping between more than a dozen applications was smooth and instantaneous, and the laptop was able to play up to seven simultaneous streams of 4K video in Final Cut Pro without any noticeable stutter.
The new MacBook Air comes with Apple’s macOS Monterey software, which recently brought convenient new features to the Mac like SharePlay (for watching content on FaceTime with a friend) and a revamped Safari for smooth web browsing. It should get even better this fall with the macOS Ventura update just announced at WWDC, which will introduce a new Stage Manager feature for easy multitasking along with some performance tweaks to improve the gaming experience on Mac. Gaming giant Capcom plans to bring its hit game Resident Evil Village to the Mac through this update, which bodes well for those hoping for more big-name video game titles on the Mac. Ventura will even let you easily use your iPhone as your Mac’s webcam, with support for handy features like Portrait Mode for that beautiful bokeh effect and Studio Lighting to light you up in a dark room.
In addition to the new MacBook Air, Apple is also updating the 13-inch MacBook Pro with its M2 chip. It’s largely the same MacBook Pro that launched in late 2020, just with more power for big video editing and intense Photoshop projects. Apple is also promising up to 20 hours of battery life on this model, which will launch next month with a starting price of $1,299. However, we think most people can overlook this model — it still has the less-than-ideal Touch Bar from the last iteration, doesn’t have a MagSafe port, and aside from an extra two hours of promised battery life, doesn’t not offer many advantages over the new MacBook Air.
If you haven’t bought a new MacBook in a while, the new MacBook Air looks like an absolute no-brainer to most people. We’ve long recommended the previous Air as the best laptop for Apple users, thanks to performance that can outperform anything in its price range when it comes to multitasking and creative workflows. dailies. And if Apple’s claims about the M2 chip are true, the MacBook Air could be a worthy MacBook Pro replacement for those who need a bit more power to perform demanding visual work and play games on the go. . As someone who loves the design of the 14-inch MacBook Pro but doesn’t need its frankly absurd power, the new Air seems like the perfect laptop for me.
If you own a MacBook Air M1 and are happy with its performance, you can probably skip the M2 model. But if you’re still clinging to an older Intel-powered Mac, this should be the perfect upgrade point. The MacBook Air M1 will remain in the lineup for $999, but at least on paper the improved performance and better design of the M2 model are worth the extra cash. Don’t bother with the new MacBook Pro M2 – you’ll get a bigger screen, better webcam and updated ports on the new Air.
We’ll put both of Apple’s new MacBooks through our full review process as soon as we get our hands on them. The $1,099 MacBook Air and $1,299 MacBook Pro aren’t available for pre-order yet, but with the laptops launching next month, we expect orders to open in the very near future. In the meantime, you can visit their store pages on Apple’s website right now to compare them and figure out exactly which configuration best suits your needs.