Should You Buy the MacBook Air?
The MacBook Air is Apple's most portable laptop model and offers an all-new slim design. The device features a 13.6-inch LCD display, MagSafe, the M2 chip, up to 24GB of memory, and more, and is available in a range of color options.
Announced in June 2022, the MacBook Air is the lightest Mac in Apple's lineup. The previous, M1-based MacBook Air was released in November 2020, but before that, Apple updated the MacBook Air annually. It is possible that there will be a new 13-inch model in late 2023 or early 2024, and there are also rumors of Apple introducing a 15-inch model later this year. If you're interested in a larger MacBook Air, you may want to hold out for the 15-inch model.
Priced starting at $1,199, the M2 MacBook Air is $200 more expensive than the previous M1-based MacBook Air from late 2020, which continues to be available from Apple. If you do not need the M2 Macbook Air's added performance and design improvements, it will be worth opting for the 2020 model to save money. Alternatively, if you need even more performance and additional features, there is the $1,299 M2 MacBook Pro or the $1,999 M2 Pro MacBook Pro.
The M2 MacBook Air
Apple in June 2022 introduced an updated and redesigned MacBook Air that offers the biggest design overhaul to the MacBook Air line since 2010, and the first use of the M2 chip.
The 2022 MacBook Air looks entirely different from the previous-generation version, featuring an updated chassis that does away with the tapered design that the MacBook Air used for so long. Instead, the MacBook Air adopts a uniform, flat body similar to the MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Air is 11.3mm thick, making it a bit thinner than the prior-generation MacBook Air, and it weighs 2.7 pounds. It is just about the same size as the prior-generation model at 11.97 inches wide and 8.46 inches tall.
Thin black bezels surround an updated 13.6-inch Liquid Retina Display that supports 1 billion colors and features 500 nits brightness, making it 25 percent brighter than before.
There is a notch at the front of the MacBook Air display, which allows for more screen space around the updated 1080p FaceTime HD camera. Apple added a built-in four-speaker sound system that supports spatial audio and wide stereo. It also features a three-microphone array.
The MacBook Air comes in Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, and Midnight, the latter of which is a new dark blue shade that's almost black. The MacBook Air continues to feature a black keyboard with Touch ID and a large Force Touch trackpad.
Two USB-C ports are available on the MacBook Air along with a MagSafe port for charging purposes and a 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones.
The battery in the MacBook Air lasts for up to 18 hours when watching movies or TV, and up to 15 hours when browsing the web. It supports fast-charging with an optional 67W USB-C power adapter.
Apple's MacBook Air is equipped with a next-generation M2 chip, a follow up to the original M1. The M2 chip features an 8-core CPU and up to a 10-core GPU, along with support for up to 24GB memory. Compared to the M1, the M2 offers advancements in performance and efficiency with an 18 percent faster CPU, a 35 percent faster GPU, and a 40 percent faster Neural Engine.
Pricing on the MacBook Air with M2 chip starts at $1,199 for the version with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, and 256GB SSD, while a higher-end model with 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, and 512GB SSD is available for $1,499. Apple is continuing to sell the M1 MacBook Air for $999.
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How to Buy
The MacBook Air can be purchased from Apple's online store or Apple retail stores, with third-party retailers also selling the machine. Pricing starts at $1,199. Apple also offers refurbished models at a lower price point.
Engadget's Devindra Hardawar said the new MacBook Air is "Apple's near-perfect Mac":
The Air is impressively thin and light, but it also has a bigger and better screen, a great set of speakers and a nifty MagSafe power adapter. And thanks to Apple's M2 chip, it's also far speedier than the last model, a computer I called "stunningly fast" just a year-and-a-half ago. Once again, Apple has set a new standard for ultraportables.
The Verge's Dan Seifert said the new MacBook Air is "a success on virtually every level," but he said that customers looking to upgrade from an older notebook should still consider the previous MacBook Air with the M1 chip, which starts at $999:
The new MacBook Air is a success on virtually every level. It's got a better screen, thinner and lighter design, better speakers, a much-improved webcam, an excellent keyboard and trackpad, more convenient charging, and excellent build quality. But that success comes at a cost, literally, and the performance advancements over the M1 model aren't as stark as the design and feature improvements are. The M2 Air is a better choice for the vast majority of people over the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro model, even though the Pro has slightly better performance and longer battery life.
Faster Performance With M2 Chip
Jason Snell shared a variety of benchmarks for the new MacBook Air in his review at Six Colors. In line with Apple's advertising, Geekbench 5 results show that the M2 chip delivers up to around 18% faster multi-core performance compared to the M1 model, while single-core performance is up to 11% faster.
Thinner and Lighter Design
The new MacBook Air does away with the notebook's iconic wedge-shaped design in favor of a flatter design. The Verge's Dan Seifert said he is "a fan of this new design," which he described as "remarkably thin" and "extremely portable":
Yet it's remarkably thin — just a smidge over 11 millimeters — and that thinness is immediately noticeable when you open the lid and start typing on it. It's also noticed whenever you slot it into a bag or carry it around. The older MacBook Air's tapered shape had less visual weight and may look thinner, but the new model is indeed slimmer than its predecessor. It's also slightly lighter, at 2.7 pounds vs. the older model's 2.8. That's not a huge difference, and the Air is far from the lightest computer you can buy, but it does make it extremely portable and easy to tote around wherever I need it.
Slower SSD in Base Model
In a statement issued to The Verge, an Apple spokesperson confirmed that the base 256GB model of the new MacBook Air has a single NAND chip, which results in slower SSD speeds in benchmark testing. Apple said real-world performance of the new MacBook Air is "even faster," but the statement does not explicitly refer to SSD speeds:
Thanks to the performance increases of M2, the new MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new higher density NAND that delivers 256GB storage using a single chip. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2 based systems for real world activities are even faster.
Last month, it was discovered that the 256GB model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip has up to 50% slower SSD read speeds and up to 30% slower SSD write speeds compared to the equivalent previous-generation model in benchmarks.
The dilemma arises from the fact that Apple switched to using a single 256GB flash storage chip instead of two 128GB chips in the base models of the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. Configurations equipped with 512GB of storage or more are equipped with multiple NAND chips, allowing for faster speeds in parallel.
If the fastest SSD speeds are important to your workflow, we recommend configuring the new MacBook Air with at least 512GB of storage. For more information, see our dedicated MacBook Air review roundup.
Apple overhauled the design of the MacBook Air in 2022, marking the first major design update to the MacBook Air line since 2010. The updated MacBook Air does away with the tapered chassis that the MacBook Air has used for years, instead introducing a flat MacBook Pro-style body that's the same thickness from front to back.
The updated MacBook Air is about the same size as the prior-generation version, but there are some slight differences. It measures in at 11.3mm thick, which is quite a bit thinner than the thickest point of the prior model (16.1mm). It is 11.97 inches long and 8.46 inches deep, and it weighs in at 2.7 pounds, just a little lighter than the 2.8 pound prior-generation model.
Two Thunderbolt/USB-C ports are available at the left side, and there's also a MagSafe charging port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple added four feet to the bottom of the machine, another MacBook Pro-style design touch.
There are black bezels around the display, similar to the prior-generation model, and it features a black Magic keyboard with no Touch Bar, along with a large Force Touch trackpad. It is essentially a smaller, lighter version of the MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Air is available in Silver, Space Gray, Starlight (a light gold), and Midnight, a new dark blue color.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The MacBook Air uses the same Magic Keyboard from the prior-generation model. It features a scissor switch mechanism that is able to hold up to dust and particulates without failing, unlike the butterfly keyboards that Apple used in older Macs.
The scissor mechanism in the MacBook Air's keyboard offers 1mm of key travel and a stable key feel, plus it uses an Apple-designed rubber dome that stores more potential energy for a more responsive key press. The keyboard also features backlit keys controlled by an ambient light sensor to light up the keys in dark rooms.
As with the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro models, the MacBook Air has a full row of function keys with no Touch Bar.
Below the keyboard, there's a large Force Touch trackpad that is unchanged from prior models. The Force Touch trackpad has no traditional buttons and is powered by a set of Force Sensors, allowing users to press anywhere on the trackpad to get the same response. A Taptic Engine powered by magnets provides users with tactile feedback when using the trackpad, replacing the feel of a physical button press.
The Force Touch trackpad supports a light press, which is used as a regular click, along with a deeper press or "force click" as a separate gesture that does things like offer up definitions for a highlighted word.
The M2 MacBook Air has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor that's located next to the function keys at the top of the keyboard. Touch ID is powered by a Secure Enclave that keeps your fingerprint data and personal information safe.
Touch ID on the MacBook Air can be used instead of a password, unlocking the Mac when a finger is placed on the sensor. It also replaces a password for password-protected apps, and it can be used to make Apple Pay purchases in Safari.
The MacBook Air features two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports that support transfer speeds of up to 40Gb/s, plus there's a new MagSafe 3 charging port that is identical to the charging port added to the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
There is a 3.5mm headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones.
Apple increased the size of the display of the 2022 MacBook Air, and it measures in at 13.6 inches thanks to smaller bezels at the sides. Apple is calling the MacBook Air's display a Liquid Retina display, but it is similar to the prior-generation Retina display.
Like the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air has a notch to allow for more display space while still providing access to a 1080p webcam.
The MacBook Air has a 2560 x 1664 resolution with 224 pixels per inch and support for 1 billion colors. It offers 500 nits brightness, up from 400 nits in the prior-generation model. It supports P3 Wide color for vivid, true-to-life colors.
The display in the MacBook Air uses True Tone, which is designed to tweak the color of the display to match the lighting in the room. True Tone works through a multi-channel ambient light sensor that's included in the MacBook Air models, which is able to determine both the brightness of the room and the color temperature.
After detecting the white balance, the MacBook Air is able to adjust both the color and intensity of the display to match the room's lighting for a more natural, paper-like viewing experience that also cuts down on eyestrain.
M2 Apple Silicon Chip
Apple added the M2 to the MacBook Air, marking the debut of the successor to the M1, the first Apple silicon chip that came out in November 2020. The M2 features an 8-core CPU, much like the M1, but it supports nine or 10 GPU cores, up from seven or eight in the prior-generation version.
Apple says that the M2 chip is built using next-generation 5-nanometer technology, with better performance per watt. It consists of 20 billion transistors, 25 percent more than the M1, adding more memory bandwidth at 100GB/s.
The M2 chip is 1.4x faster than the M1, and 15x faster than old Intel-based MacBook Air options. It features an 18 percent faster CPU, a 35 percent more powerful GPU, and a 40 percent faster Neural Engine.
Geekbench benchmarks have confirmed that the M2 chip is up to 20 percent faster than the M1 chip when it comes to multi-core performance.
The M2, which runs at 3.49GHz compared to 3.2GHz for the M1, earned a single-core score of 1919, which is roughly 12 percent faster than the 1707 single-core score of the M1 MacBook Air. The M2 earned a multi-core score of 8928, up about 20 percent from the 7419 score of the M1 model.
As for the Metal benchmark, the M2 chip scored 30627, a notable improvement over the 21001 score earned by the M1. The M2 chip offers up to a 10-core GPU, compared to the 8-core maximum of the M1.
As with the M1 MacBook Air, the M2 MacBook Air does not contain fans and it is able to operate silently.
Memory and Storage
The M2 MacBook Air supports up to 24GB Unified Memory and up to 2TB of SSD storage. The base model ships with 8GB Memory and 256GB storage.
The M2 MacBook Air is equipped with a 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery that lasts for up to 18 hours when watching movies using the Apple TV app, or up to 15 hours when wirelessly browsing the web.
The base model ships with a 30W USB-C power adapter, while the higher-end base model with 10-core GPU comes with a 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter. The MacBook Air charges using MagSafe and is fast-charge capable with a 67W USB-C Power Adapter.
The MacBook Air supports 802.11ax WiFi, which is known as Wi-Fi 6, a WiFi protocol that's faster and more efficient than the prior-generation 802.11ac WiFi. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0.
Speakers and Microphone
Apple added a four-speaker sound system to the MacBook Air with improved stereo separation and vocal clarity from two tweeters and two ultrathin woofers.
The MacBook Air also supports Wide stereo sound and spatial audio. Spatial audio is available when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos on the built-in speakers, and Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking can be used with the third-generation AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max.
The MacBook Air is also equipped with a three-microphone array with directional beamforming for better sound quality on video calls.
The MacBook Air features the same 1080p FaceTime HD camera that was introduced in the 2021 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. It is powered by an advanced image signal processor with computational video that improves video quality, and Apple says it offers double the resolution and low-light performance of the previous generation.
Available Configurations and Upgrade Options
Available Configurations and Upgrade Options
There are two stock 13-inch MacBook Air configurations available from Apple, in Silver, Space Gray, Starlight, and Midnight
- $1,199 - M2 chip with 8-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD.
- $1,499 - M2 chip with 10-core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD.
Entry-Level MacBook Air Upgrade Options
- 10-core GPU - +$100
- 16GB Unified Memory - +$200
- 24GB Unified Memory - +$400
- 512GB SSD - +$200
- 1TB SSD - +$400
- 2TB SSD - +$800
- 35W Dual USB-C Power Adapter - +$20
- 67W USB-C Power Adapter - +$20
Higher-End MacBook Air Upgrade Options
- 16GB Unified Memory - +$200
- 24GB Unified Memory - +$400
- 1TB SSD - +$200
- 2TB SSD - +$600
What's Next for the MacBook Air
Apple is rumored to be working on a 15-inch MacBook Air that's expected to launch in spring 2023, and the 15-inch model would be Apple's largest MacBook Air to date. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, this 15-inch MacBook Air will use the same design as the current 13.6-inch model, which eliminated the tapered frame that the MacBook Air used for years. The updated larger-screened model will be sold alongside an updated 13-inch MacBook Air.
Apple will release a new MacBook Air with a 3-nanometer M3 chip in the second half of 2023, according to DigiTimes. The M3 chip is expected to offer faster performance and improved power efficiency compared to the M1. Size was not mentioned in the report, but the M3 could be used in both 13.6-inch and 15-inch models.
Display analyst Ross Young believes that Apple is working on a 13-inch MacBook Air that will feature an OLED display, with this model set to come out in 2024. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also said that Apple's first OLED MacBook will launch as soon as next year.