Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Sleek, faster — and more expensive

Positives

  • Remarkably thin and light
  • Bigger and brighter Retina display
  • 1080p webcam (finally)

Negatives

  • More expensive than before
  • Battery life takes a modest hit
  • Expensive time-of-purchase upgrades

The original 13.3-inch MacBook Air was a standout product, not just for Apple, but for the entire PC industry. Its slim, lightweight design and distinctive “tear drop” profile effectively created the ultrabook category years before Intel’s marketing department even came up with that name.

It was such a successful design that Apple stuck with it for over a decade, even after Model 2020 It has been updated with the new M1 processor from Apple. But with next-generation M2 processors on the horizon, there have been rumors that 2022 MacBook Air It will get a major renovation.

The new design did not disappoint, reducing the size and weight of the laptop further, while also offering a slightly larger 13.6-inch screen. There were other welcome improvements too, including the return of the popular MagSafe power connector, a webcam and a new speaker system.

However, the new slim design also came with a huge price increase of $200 / £250, so the M2 MacBook Air needs to offer more than just a cosmetic change to convince existing owners to upgrade.

Price and options

Sure, the design of the new MacBook Air is stunning — but so is the price tag. To maintain the MacBook Air’s position as “Apple’s most affordable laptop”, Model M1 from 2020 It’s still on sale at its original price, starting at $999 / £999 with a combined 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid state storage.

The New 2022 model It starts at $1,199 / £1,249, with an octa-core M2 processor clocked at 3.5GHz, an integrated octa-core GPU, 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD. There’s also a second model, reviewed here, which sports a 10-core GPU and doubles SSD storage to 512GB for $1,499 / £1,549. This model still has a moderate 8GB of memory, and Apple’s upgrade options remain as pricey as ever, costing an extra $200/£200 for 16GB or $400/£400 for the 24GB max.

Storage upgrades are quite expensive, costing an extra $200/£200 for 1TB, or $600/£600 for 2TB. There is another option available as well, where the standard 30W power adapter can be upgraded to a 67W fast charging unit, or to a 35W adapter with two USB-C ports, with both options costing $20 / £30.

Design Features

The M2 MacBook Air is now just 11.3 mm thick and weighs 1.24 kg, compared to 16.1 mm thick and 1.29 kg for its predecessor. Apple states that the overall size of the laptop has been reduced by 20%, however it has also increased screen size slightly, from 13.3 inches (2560 x 1664 resolution) to 13.6 inches (2560 x 1600), which makes this reduction in size and weight seem even more Impressive. I may be a little conservative, but I somehow prefer the sleek, tapered profile of the drop from previous models over the tougher rectangular design of this M2 update. But you do at least get a range of colors to spice things up a bit, with midnight (dark grey), space grey (light grey), stars (light pink) and the traditional silver.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022): Keyboard

The backlit Magic Keyboard includes 12 full-height function keys and a Touch ID sensor integrated into the power button (top right).

Photo: Cliff Joseph/ZDNET

Made of aluminum, the new design is still very strong and solid, and the larger screen means there’s now room for a full-sized row of function keys, and the Enter key is larger too. The keys still feel a little lifeless, as the slim design simply doesn’t provide much room for the keys to move around when typing quickly.

Apple has included some crowd-pleasing features with this new design. The MagSafe magnetic connector is back, which not only helps avoid accidents, but also frees one of the MacBook’s two USB-C ports. The FaceTime webcam has – finally – been upgraded to 1080p, and there’s a very respectable quad-play stereo speaker system that will work well for video calls, presentations, or video streaming.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022): Ports

The MagSafe Magnetic Power Connector is back on the MacBook Air, along with two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports. The other side houses a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Photo: Cliff Joseph/ZDNET

Performance and battery life

Besides the updated design, the new MacBook Air also introduced Apple’s second-generation M2 processor, which proves to be a clear improvement over the previous M1, even if it’s still The delay is behind us The M1 Pro, Max and Ultra variants used in high-end MacBook Pro computers.

Apple M2: Key Features

Photo: Apple

Like the M1, the M2 has a similar 8-core CPU, and this provides only modest improvements in CPU performance, with Geekbench 5 It shows an increase in single-core performance from 1730 to 1920. Multi-core performance is slightly better, rising from 7590 to 8950. However, the 10-core GPU in our review unit proved to be much faster than the 7-core GPU in M1 MacBook Air, moving up from 18,620 to 30,200 — an improvement of just over 60%. This is what he confirmed 3DMark Wildlife Extreme The graphics benchmark, with the M1 scraping around 29fps, while the M2 comfortably advanced to 40.5fps.

You pay for that extra performance, of course, so the M1 version of the MacBook Air remains the least expensive option for web browsing and other routine productivity tasks. Another thing to note is that the M2 MacBook Air’s larger and brighter screen affects battery life. The 2020 M1 lasted a full 17 hours and 20 minutes of video streaming, but the new M2 model drops to 15 hours and 50 minutes. However, that’s practically two days’ worth of work on a single charge, which is still far ahead of most of the highly portable MacBook Air competition.

Conclusions

The new sleek design and improved performance of the M2 MacBook Air would make it a must-have upgrade if it had the same price as the 2020 version with the M1 chip. However, the higher price tag means that many users may prefer to stick with the M1 version for now – especially if battery life is a top priority. However, if you have the budget, the M2 MacBook Air is one of the lightest and most elegant laptops we’ve seen, once again throwing a challenge to its Windows-based rivals.

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022): Features

Photo: Apple

Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) specifications

Healer Apple M2
CPU 8 cores (4 performance, 4 efficiency)
GPU 8 or 10 cores
– nervous motor 16 core
– Media Engine H.264, HEVC, ProRes, ProRes RAW hardware acceleration • Video decoding/decoding engines • ProRes encoding/decoding engine
The operating system macOS Monterey
consolidated memory 8 GB, 16 GB, 24 GB
Storage (SSD) 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
Show 13.6-inch LED-backlit Liquid Retina (IPS) display
the decision 2560 x 1664 (224 ppi)
– colors 1.07 billion (10-bit color)
– brightness 500 net
– color gradient DCI-P3
– Editing the picture real tune
ports 2x Thunderbolt / USB 4 • 3.5 mm headphone jack • MagSafe 3 (charging)
WIFI Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5
camera FaceTime HD 1080p camera
My voice 4 speakers • 3x microphones
battery capacity 52.6 watts per hour
The battery is charging 67W USB-C Power Adapter 30W USB-C Power Adapter (octa-core GPU) Compact 35W Dual USB-C Power Adapter USB-C to MagSafe 3 Cable
Dimensions 304 mm x 215 mm x 11.3 mm (11.97″ x 8.46″ x 0.44″)
Weight 1.24 kg (2.7 lb)
in the box MacBook Air, 30W USB-C Power Adapter (M2 with Octa-Core GPU) or Compact 35W Dual USB-C Power Adapter (M2 with 10-Core GPU and 512GB Storage) USB-C to MagSafe Cable 3 (2 meters)
price $1,199 (octa-core GPU / 256GB SSD) / $1,499 (10-core GPU / 512GB SSD)

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