The Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) is the best laptop your money can buy right now. For the price, it delivers stellar performance, a vibrant display, and superb battery life all wrapped in a delightfully portable design.
- Sleek, portable design
- Bright and colorful 13.6-inch display
- Strong M2 performance
- Incredibly long battery life
- More expensive than previous model
- Display notch is sore
The new Apple MacBook Air 2022 M2 is the Swiss knife of ultrabooks. Built on an already popular MacBook Air M1 – that introduced the world to the mighty power of Apple silicon, the new Air is truly impressive. Now, rocking Apple’s second round of own processors, the company has redesigned the notebook, moving from the signature wedge design to a thinner, flatter device than before.
The MacBook Air 2022 comes with a new, much higher, price tag of around $1,199 (at the time of writing this review), which is a price we usually expect for a MacBook Pro, rather than the entry-level MacBook Air M1 that starts at $999. Nonetheless, we have redesigned MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, both are now more expensive and have the same M2 chips under the hood.
If you’ll be spending the extra money on the latest MacBook Air M2, that’ll get you a new 13.6-inch display with a 1080p camera (in a notch), a redesigned keyboard with full-height function keys, the fantastic MagSafe 3 connector, and of course, Apple’s latest Silicon. It may be a lot of money, but for those who can afford it, you’re getting a truly new, powerful machine.
As you’’ see from this Apple MacBook Air 2022 M2 review, the new Air punches above its weight with a perfect balance of portability, performance, display quality, and overall premium design. Its over 14 hours of battery life is better than most. In fact, despite a few drawbacks (that can easily be ignored), I’d say, this is one of the best laptops for the money.
About the MacBook Air 2022
The new MacBook Air M2 was tipped for release at Apple’s WWDC 2022 developer conference. The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) was the first laptop with the M2 chip to hit the shelves, but we’ve had to wait until July before the new MacBook Air to come out, maybe due to Apple’s uncertainly about availability of components and materials. The MacBook Air M2 finally went on sale on July 8 for order, with deliveries going live starting July 15.
As mentioned, the MacBook Air 2022 starts at $1,199 (at the time of writing this review). The 2020 M1-based Air will continue to be available for $999, but education users can snag a deal for a little less at $899.
The higher asking price is understandable, though, but it means it feels like a poorer value as compared to the older MacBook Air, which is a good thing, as the best thing about the 2020 MacBook Air M1 was its low price and excellent performance.
Meanwhile, the new Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch M2 starts at $1,299, which is quite odd on Apple’s side, as it now means both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch are within striking distance in both price and performance.
- CPU: Apple M2 (8-core)
- Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
- RAM: 16GB Unified LPDDR5
- Screen: 13.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,664 Liquid Retina display (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)
- Storage: 1TB SSD
- Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3 charging port
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
- Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD webcam
- Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.24kg)
- Size: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches (30.41 x 21.5 x 1.13cm; W x D x H)
Sure, both base models of the Pro and Air come with the new M2 chip, the cheapest Air is fitted with an 8-core GPU, while the base model of the MacBook Pro 13-inch comes with an M2 chip with a 10-core GPU, meaning the more expensive MacBook has an upper-hand when it comes to graphical performance, but the MacBook Air is still close, we discuss that later.
MacBook Air 2022 Review: Design
- Revamped, all-new design
- Bigger screen, lighter body
- New color choices
The MacBook Air 2022 is paper thin. At only 0.44 inches, it’s the thinnest laptop we’ve reviewed and yet still very solid.
It also happens to be the first MacBook Air that Apple has built specifically for its M2 Silicon. The first MacBook Air with an M1 chip retained the shape of the Intel-based model before it, but Apple took a different direction altogether with the MacBook Air M2. With this new design, Apple has created a device that’s fully independent of its predecessor, going so far from the signature wedge design that Steve Jobs first pulled out of a manilla envelope years back, and replacing it with a flat top and rounded edges reminiscent of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, as well as some recent iPads.
It’s a completely new design, but one that I like. That’s partially because I have used various models of the MacBook Pro, and have gotten used to the stark design, but because despite being iconic, everything needs a good redesign once in a while, the same way we wait in awe for Apple to release new macOS versions. If you’re coming from an older MacBook Air, this one feels like you’re getting a real update.
As the name suggests, the MacBook Air is the thinnest and lightest MacBook Air produces, and with the new MacBook Air 2022 model, Apple has taken everything a notch higher by shrinking the overall size and reducing the weight of the unibody design, resulting in more screen size.
How was that even possible? Well, Apple engineers achieved that by slimming down the bezels surrounding the screen by up to 30% on the top and bottom and making it up to 20 % thinner on the sides. Now, the chunky borders of the previous MacBook Air are gone, and not only on the Air, high-end Windows rivals like the Dell XPS 13 rock thin bezels but in the new MacBook Air M2, the result is a sleek MacBook Air without a competitor, at least for now.
The MacBook Air’s webcam has been upgraded to 1080p too, to match those found in the MacBook Pros from late 2021, and the boost in resolution alongside improved image processing and low-light handling with the new M2 chip is much welcome for anyone who needs to do video conferencing or making videos to friends and family. And in this age of hybrid working, that’s pretty most of us. However, with the bigger camera, we have a less welcome visible “notch” that surrounds the webcam and drops down into the menu bar.
The MacBook Air 2022 comes in new colors, too. There are Space-Gray, Silver Starlight, and Midnight colors. All shades look very good in person, but my favorite is Midnight Blue, which is the color of our review unit and it looks as gorgeous as we first saw it at the Apple WWDC event.
Apart from the enhanced camera, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) now comes with a 13.6-inch screen, notably bigger than the 13.3-inch of the previous MacBook Air M1 model. The resolution has also been upped from 2,560 x 1,600 to 2,560 x 1,664 pixels, meaning the larger screen hasn’t lost its sharpness, and we think it now justifies the notch at the top, as you now benefit from the extra screen space and better webcam.
Also, the new Liquid Retina screen is brighter by 100nits, so it’s now 500nits, and now supports one billion colors. For people who rely heavily on visual quality, especially photographers, the MacBook Air M2 (2022) is a better buy. Typing up documents on the slightly redesigned keyboard (which is slightly narrower due to the overall redesign but it keeps the same Magic keyboard switches) feels satisfying and comfortable.
For connectivity, Apple keeps things minimal with the MacBook Air M2. You’ll find two Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports on the left side with a MagSafe power adapter. The latter connection is back, and it makes it easy to connect the cable connector magnetically to the system, and it also prevents the laptop from falling should someone tug hard on the cable. We’re just happy Apple brought this back. The right side has a headphone jack for those still using wired headphones and it’s just great to have should your wireless earbuds run out of power.
MacBook Air 2022 Review: Performance
On par with MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)
As aforementioned, the new MacBook Air (M2,2022) is fitted with the M2 System on Chip (SoC), which is Apple’s second-generation, 5-nanometer chip that the company claims will offer an 18% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU (it’s now 10 cores), and a 40% faster neural engine over its predecessor, the Apple M1 chip. Just keep in mind that the base model of the MacBook Air (2022) ships with an 8-core GPU, which you can upgrade to a 10-core GPU.
Meanwhile, the base model of the MacBook Pro 13-inch comes with an M2 chip and 10-core GPU as standard, but the price isn’t far apart.
That said, one thing you’re assured of from both the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops with M2 is that they perform incredibly well. The pre-installed macOS loads in seconds and runs well while looking gorgeous on the new screen. As expected, the MacBook Air (M2,2022) can easily be your day-to-day use laptop.
As a daily use machine, browsing the web in both Safari and Chrome is fast and responsive, and you aren’t limited to the number of tabs you can open (the model we’re reviewing comes with 16Gb of unified memory, which allows for seamless multitasking), and typing documents on the revamped keyboard feels nice and comfortable.
Since the M1 chip was launched in 20202, there has been an increasing number of M1-compatible apps, which will readily work with M2, which means your favorite apps should run seamlessly, and ride on the M2’s capabilities. It’s not just Apple apps, but applications from the likes of Adobe and Microsoft have M1 and M2-native versions.
For apps that don’t have M2 versions, there’s Apple Rosetta 2 tool that allows you to run apps created for Intel-based macs as if they were designed for M2, with very little impact on performance.
- SUPERCHARGED BY M2 — The 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop is a portable powerhouse. Get more...
- UP TO 20 HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE — Go all day and into the night, thanks to the...
- SUSTAINED PERFORMANCE — Thanks to its active cooling system, the 13-inch MacBook Pro can...
One thing that Apple likes to remind buyers is that the MacBook Air M2 has a fanless design. But with the MacBook Pro 13-inch Apple uses fans to keep components cool. That should mean that the MacBook Pro 13-inch performs better at sustained performance – it can work at full speed for longer without overheating.
In practice, it means the Apple MacBook Air M2 apart from being thin and light, runs completely silent when in use, but the MacBook Air’s will rarely kick in, maybe, you’ll only hear them on seriously heavy workloads (think of editing an 8K video in Premiere Pro); but you aren’t buying the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro for those kinds of demands. If you get into such projects, you’re better off with the more powerful MacBook 14-inch or 16-inch.
Elsewhere, the MacBook Air M2 (10-core chip) washes down the typical belief among enthusiasts that you can’t play games on Mac. The reality is a mixed bag. No, Apple’s laptops don’t have the dedicated GPUs you get on PC, but the MacBook Air is capable of running available phone titles or light fare titles from Steam and Epic Games.
The M1 was capable of running games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider at acceptable frame rates, and the M2 chip is even better. Still, you might need to move up to the MacBook Pro with active air cooling, if you need to play at consistent frame rates.
MacBook Air M2 (2022) review: Battery Life
- Long-lasting battery
- MagSafe returns to MacBook Air
Apple’s move to an Arm architecture is the goose that continues to lay golden eggs, on the MacBook Air M2, which manifests in efficiency. It’s one of the longest-lasting laptops for the money. It will last over 14 hours 8 minutes over continuous web surfing at 150nits screen brightness. That’s a little behind its predecessor Air M1 (14:42), but that’s still superb runtime.
For comparison, the Dell XPS 13 OLED lasts just over 8 hours and the Asus ZenBook Flip 13 OLED lasts for 11:04. The Apple MacBook Pro M2 remains the laptop to beat on battery life, with its kickass runtime of 18 hours and 23 minutes on a single charge.
Apple MacBook Air 2022 review: Verdict
The Apple MacBook Air 2022 is a great redesign of Apple’s already popular entry-level laptop, and the best laptop for the money right now. The new design nets a sleek and thin machine (though not much lighter than previous models), and it brings back our favorite MagSafe back. The 1080p camera is a much-needed upgrade we have all been looking out for, and you also get a bright screen and long battery life. Simply put, it feels like a breath of fresh air (which it is), despite being a series of modest upgrades and touch-ups.
On the other hand, there’s a feeling that the M2 version may be overshadowed by the existing M1 option, as it’s still available at the very desirable $999 price point (and often goes on sale for less). In my opinion, all the little upgrades are well worth it, but for many, money is tight right now, and if you’re not going to do intense work, that may still suit you fine.
Then there’s the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the same M2 SoC, which seems from a distance, the version may not be worth it for many users when the MacBook Air M2 is available and performs so well, a few dollars less. On the Windows side, competition is still tight. The Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 is a strong contender on performance, but it only has 11 hours of battery life, but it gets you an OLED screen for a very good price. If you must do Windows, I’d suggest you first look at the ZenBook S 13 OLED.
If you want to be thin and fanless, the Apple MacBook Air M2 is a masterpiece. It’s powerful, lasts long on a single charge, looks fantastic, and is nice and thin while also feeling solid and well built. The new (and returning features like MagSafe) are more than welcome. All you need is the willingness to spend that extra cash to get it.
Is the Apple MacBook Air 2022 worth it?
If you need a thin and light MacBook Air with an M2 chip – YES. The Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) is the best laptop your money can buy right now. For the price, it delivers stellar performance, a vibrant display, and superb battery life all wrapped in a delightfully portable design.
Last update on 2022-12-05 at 13:21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API