Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022)


It’s expensive, but the Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) is a wonderful machine that looks great, performs exceptionally and lasts a long time on a charge.

Pros

  • Fantastic performance
  • Sleek, updated design
  • Excellent keyboard and trackpad
  • Long battery life
Cons

  • Expensive starting price and upgrades
  • More colours would have been nice
  • The M1 version remains an excellent buy for less
Availability

  • UKRRP: £1249
  • USARRP: $1199
  • EuropeRRP: €1499
  • CanadaRRP: CA$1499
  • AustraliaRRP: AU$1899
Key Features
  • Latest Apple Silicon chipThe 2022 MacBook Air is powered by the M2 chip and it’s very capable
  • Return of MagSafeThe magnetic charging connector makes a welcome return
  • Great display13.6-inch panel with punchy colours and 500 nits of brightness

Introduction

Apple has been on a roll with its Mac output since it began shifting away from Intel chips to its own M-series alternatives. The MacBook Air M2 (2022) is the next model in that transition, and it’s a fantastic machine.

The Air series has been Apple’s most popular line of computers for years. It’s an iconic machine, but one that has often been left without big upgrades in the past.

That’s far from the case now. After 2020’s big switch to the M1 chip, it’s now the time for the MacBook Air to pick up a big redesign while inheriting some of the MacBook Pro 14’s tricks.

Design

  • Upgraded look makes this a smaller version of the new MacBook Pro blueprint
  • Fantastic keyboard and large, responsive trackpad
  • Four colours, including new additions Midnight and Starlight (pictured)

I can’t deny that when Apple announced the new MacBook Air M2 (2022) I was a little disappointed. Leaks ahead of the launch had suggested a redesign in the same vein as the 2021 iMac 24-inch, with a wide array of eye-catching hues on offer. However, the new MacBook Air M2 (2022) mimics its pricier MacBook Pro 14 and 16 siblings instead of mirroring the iMac.

That means you’ve got a boxier look than before, with the iconic wedge design (that has been a hallmark of the Air series ever since Steve Jobs initially pulled it out of an envelope on stage) ditched. The new design is sleek and tasteful, and it’s a lot more portable than the thick-in-comparison 14 and 16-inch versions.

This might not be the thinnest laptop around, but it’s overall thinner than the previous model and is incredibly portable as a result. I have been carrying around a MacBook Pro in my bag for a few months and slipping this in instead reminds me of what makes the Air range so special. It weighs 1.24kg (compared to the 1.6kg MacBook Pro 14-inch) and has a height of just 1.13cm. That makes it thinner than an iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard attached, making this Apple’s most portable mobile workstation.

It's a thin, light machineImage Credit (Trusted Reviews)

If you were hoping for a MacBook Air available in all the colours of the rainbow, then I am here to disappoint. Space Grey and Silver remain, with new Starlight and Midnight options added. I have been testing the Starlight option for the past week and the best way to describe it would be a very subtle gold. It does a better job at hiding fingerprints than the matte Midnight option which is a very dark blue.

On one side you’ll find two Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports, along with the magnetic MagSafe port for charging. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone port on the other side. It would have been nice for Apple to split the USB-C ports and have one on each side, as I often run out of room when I am plugging in multiple items. There’s also no SD card reader nor HDMI, so you’ll probably want to invest in a good USB-C hub to go along with this laptop.

The addition of MagSafe essentially gives you an extra port, as you’ll no longer need to use up one of the USB ports for charging. You can still charge with a fast USB-C cable and charger, but that doesn’t come in the box with a colour-matched MagSafe cable the replacement.

Two ports sit on the side of the macbook air m2

The reintroduction of MagSafe – a staple on MacBooks pre-2016 – is very much welcome. The magnetic cable detaches if you accidentally trip over it, something that doesn’t happen with a standard USB-C cable. An LED on the cable also lets you know when it’s fully charged, which I find a really nice touch.

The keyboard and trackpad are both wonderful. The Magic Keyboard has enough travel for comfortable typing, plus it packs a full row of function keys and a TouchID sensor for biometric unlocking. If you’re updating from one of the MacBook Airs with Apple’s notoriously awful ‘Butterfly’ keyboards, then the improvements here will make this upgrade worth it alone, especially for those who spend much of the day typing.

Below the keyboard, there’s a massive trackpad which uses the haptic response to simulate a physical press. The trackpad itself doesn’t actually move anywhere, but I doubt you’d know as much.

Screen

  • 13.6-inch is larger than the previous MacBook Air
  • Notch is slightly annoying but easy to ignore

The screen on the MacBook Air M2 (2022) is the largest you’ll find on Apple’s Air series and it is a great panel – even if it lacks some of the skills you might find elsewhere.

Apple has kept the majority of the same screen tech from the previous model, including the use of an IPS LCD panel. You’ll still need to go for the MacBook Pro 14 or 16 to get the deeper blacks and proper HDR performance that comes with Mini LED. Another feature missing here is the 120Hz ProMotion variable refresh rate tech, with this just a standard 60hz display.

The switch to thinner bezels has allowed Apple to stretch the screen out, moving it from 13.3 to 13.6-inches. This comes with a downside though – there’s a hefty notch digging into the display from the top. The notch doesn’t necessarily bother me and it does blend in eventually, but the lack of true upgrades to the webcam (see the Performance section for more) makes it harder to swallow.

The MacBook Air M2 has a 13.6-inch displayImage Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The resolution has been upped from 2560 x 1600 to 2560 x 1664 to make up for the bigger screen and the panel is brighter than its predecessor. In my lab tests, the screen hit the maximum 500-nit brightness that Apple claimed. That’s significantly brighter than the average 300-nit laptop screen.

In my daily use, I tended to keep the brightness at around 50%, which I felt was comfortable on my eyes in a well-lit room. Having that extra few hundred nits available does make it usable outdoors, something dimmer screens aren’t capable of.

Performance

  • The M2 chip isn’t a huge leap over the M1
  • 8GB RAM and 256GB in the base model
  • The upgraded webcam is still a bit rubbish

After the huge leap forward Apple made with its M1 chip, the move to M2 was always going to be far more minimal. While I will get onto performance shortly, let’s run through the models available.

You can pick up this laptop in two main configurations: the base model ($1999/£1249) has an 8-core GPU, 8-core CPU, 16-core neural engine and 8GB memory. I have been reviewing the pricier version, which will set you back £1499/£1549 and comes with the same 8-core CPU, 8GB memory, 16-core neural engine, but doubles the 256GB base storage to 512GB and has a beefier 10-core GPU.

256GB of storage, for me and for most people I’ve discussed this laptop with, just isn’t enough. Apps, photos, movies, games etc are all big these days and I roared past 400GB just by transferring a small amount of content from my older machine. There have also been reports the 256GB SSD is slow, however I haven’t been able to test this myself. If you’re looking at investing in this machine for the long haul then I would suggest plumping for the pricier model.

You can also pay $200/£200 for 16GB memory or $400/£400 for 24GB, and up

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