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The MacBook Air was due for a refresh, but few anticipated what was revealed at Apple’s June 2022 keynote. The ultra-portable notebook got a whole new redesign, based around the brand new Apple M2 processor.
It looks amazing. But is it worth upgrading your existing MacBook Air?
Macbook Air 2022 – specs
The 2022 MacBook Air is based around a brand new chassis. Tight integration of its internal components has made it possible for Apple to abandon the previous ‘wedge’ shape, whereby the back of the closed notebook was wider than the front.
Now it’s equally thin all over, and that’s very thin. It’s only 11.3mm when closed, which is less than half an inch. It’s spectacularly light too at just 2.7 pounds (1.22kg), a small improvement on the 2020 wedge-shaped model which weighed 2.8 pounds(1.27kg).
Crucially, the Macbook Air 2022 utilizes the M2 chip. Like its predecessors, the Apple Silicon M2 is an entire system on a chip. It integrates a central processing unit (CPU), a graphics processing unit (GPU), onboard memory, Neural Engine, and more.
In a nutshell, the M2 chip is blisteringly powerful, making significant advances over the M1.
Off the shelf, there are two models of the new MacBook Air with M2 available. They both have an eight-core CPU and 8GB of unified memory and a 16-core Neural Engine.
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The two models also share a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone, and a 1080p FaceTime HD camera.
For connectivity, they have two Thunderbolt ports, compatible with USB 4 for connecting high-speed peripherals – plus a display of up to 6k resolution. Both models have Apple’s Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and a Force Touch trackpad too.
The keyboard on the Macbook Air 2022 features full-height function keys rather than a Touch Bar. In the top-right corner of the keyboard is a fingerprint scanner for Touch ID. Handily, this can be used to unlock your Mac, enter passwords and make purchases from the App Store and the Apple TV app.
On the right-hand side of the notebook is a 3.5mm headphone jack. It supports high‑impedance headphones, though we expect most people will prefer Bluetooth earbuds.
The more expensive version has a ten-core GPU and 512GB of storage and is available for $1,499 or £1,549.
Meanwhile the cheaper model offers an eight-core GPU and 256GB of storage and is available for $1,199.
Additionally, if you buy from the Apple Online Store or a high-street Apple Store, you can customize your purchase with up to 24GB of unified memory and 2TB of SSD storage.
The M2 chip brings big performance improvements. For example, during intensive workloads, like editing complex timelines in Final Cut Pro, the new MacBook Air is nearly 40% faster than the previous model.
If you’re still running an Intel MacBook Air, you’ll find the new model up to 15 times faster! Applying filters and effects in Adobe Photoshop is up to 20% faster than M1 MacBook Air models too – and up to five times faster than the speediest Intel-based model.
The M2 chip also boasts extremely low energy consumption, which allows for a fanless design that’s almost silent in operation.
Power consumption is so low that the battery can run for up to 18 hours on a single charge. You can use the new MacBook Air all day and all evening, then charge it overnight using the 35W compact power adapter bundled with the notebook.
Alternatively, the optional 67W USB-C power adapter, which is sold separately, and can charge up to 50% full in just 30 minutes. This fast charging support is fantastic and a first in the MacBook Air.
According to Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, the new Macbook Air 2022 is “Completely redesigned around M2, MacBook Air is thinner, lighter, and faster with a bigger display, better camera, and all-day battery life, in four beautiful finishes.
“Only with Apple silicon can you build such a thin and light notebook with a fanless design, and this combination of performance and capabilities.”
Is the MacBook Air 2022 worth the money?
Bearing in mind the cheaper M2 model is only $200 more than the M1 version, yes. The extra power offered by the M2 chip, a better camera, and returning MagSafe charger make this an easy answer.
The new MacBook Air comes in four finishes; Midnight, Starlight, Space Grey, and Silver. All of them look great, as does the new screen, which is a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display.
At 500 nits of brightness, it’s 25% brighter than before and supports a billion colors too. To maximize the screen size, the bezels have been reduced and an iPhone-like notch was introduced around the FaceTime camera, which is now 1080p (up from 720p).
Combined with a four-speaker sound system, and three-mic array, the Macbook 2022 Air makes for excellent video calling too.
A smart returning feature is the MagSafe port, used to connect the MacBook Air to the mains. A popular feature in Apple notebooks, it connects the cable using magnets strong enough to hold it in place. However, MagSafe also allows the cable to pull free if it’s tugged.
It’s a great safety feature. Why the company decided to phase it out in favor of USB-C charging is anyone’s guess – but it’s great to see it back.
But is it worth upgrading? If you’re using a MacBook Air with an Intel chip, it’s a no-brainer; upgrading to the new model with an M2 chip is an excellent idea.
But even if you have an M1 MacBook Air, the new form factor and power boost mean an early upgrade might well be worthwhile.
Where to buy
The new Macbook Air 2022 models are available direct from Apple and key retailers. These include: