The new MacBook Air has become a reality, but how is it different from its predecessor?
The recently announced MacBook Air M2 (2022) has some important challenges, since its predecessor, the MacBook Air M1 (2020), is so good that it has ranked at the top of our list of best laptops since its release two years ago.
However, two years is a long time for a laptop, so it’s a good time to keep going. At WWDC 2022, Apple lifted the veil of mystery around the MacBook Air M2 (2022), which brought big changes to the table besides the new M2 chipset, for example, the laptop underwent notable design changes.
However, given that the old MacBook Air is so good, is it worth buying the new model? The choice is complicated by the fact that Apple isn’t abandoning the MacBook Air M1, as it does with all devices when a new model comes out. Instead, the company continues to sell the MacBook Air M1 along with the M2 model, meaning consumers will face a choice: MacBook Air M2 (2022) versus MacBook Air M1(2020), deciding which one to buy.
Pricing and configurations
One of the best features of the MacBook Air M1 (2020) becomes the price of the laptop. It came on the market for $999 in base configuration, which was a phenomenal price-to-performance ratio compared to competing Windows laptops like the Dell XPS 13, which is much more expensive.
It has remained at that mark since then, mostly due to its popularity, but it has occasionally dropped in price as part of big discounts, whether it’s Black Friday or Amazon Prime Day. At WWDC 2022, Apple said it would continue to sell the MacBook Air M1 (2020) at the same price.
This is a shame, as we would have liked to see a price reduction on the older MacBook Air. It also dashes the hopes of anyone who expected the new MacBook Air M2 to come out for the same money as the M1 model. Apple has done this many times in the past, but the MacBook Air M2 (2022) starts at a higher price of $1,200 . The jump is noticeable, especially for those countries that don’t pay in dollars.
This means that the MacBook Air M2 is no longer as attractive as the M1 model, as the laptop falls into the MacBook Pro price range.
If value for money becomes the most important consideration, the MacBook Air M1 (2020) remains an unbeatable offering.
However, the model on the M2 chips offers a significant increase in performance and allows you to configure your laptop with up to 24GB of combined memory, meaning the new laptops are better geared for the future and you won’t feel the need to upgrade your laptop for a while. In the long run, this will save you money.
When the MacBook Air M1 (2020) came out, Apple held back the biggest changes inside the laptop, so the design was virtually unchanged from previous MacBook Airs.
And while all was well – after all, the design remained iconic for a variety of reasons – laptop design has come a long way, so the look started to feel dated.
The good news is that the MacBook Air M2 (2022) has undergone a noticeable design change. Gone is its wedge shape with a thicker back that tapers toward the front of the laptop. Instead, the design is more square and looks more like a MacBook Pro.
We also get four colors to choose from: gray, silver, black and blue. Apple also claims that the MacBook Air 2022 takes up 20 percent less desk space than the previous laptop in the series, and it’s 11 mm thick, while weighing 1.22 kg.
All this means it’s much easier to carry around. The bezels around the screen have been shortened, which not only makes the new MacBook Air more modern than the older model, but also means its screen is larger – 13.6 inches versus the 13.3 inches of the older model. The resolution has also increased from 2560 x 1600 pixels to 2560 x 1664 pixels. This means that as the screen gets bigger, you don’t lose any clarity in the picture.
That said, the MacBook Air M2 (2022) display outperforms the older model with support for one billion colors – substantially more than the “millions” supported by the older MacBook Air – and with a brighter 500 nits compared to the 400 nits of the MacBook Air M1 (2020). This makes the screen brighter and more accurate, which is an obvious improvement over the older MacBook Air.
In terms of design, the new MacBook Air M2 (2022) is the clear winner: it looks thinner and lighter than the M1, as well as more modern looking, its screen is bigger and brighter.
We haven’t had a chance to properly test the MacBook Air M2 (2022) yet, so we can only rely on specs and Apple’s claims. On paper, the new laptop looks great: the M2 notebook has an 18% faster processor, 35% faster graphics (now 10-core), and 40% faster neural engine, all while consuming the same amount of power. The jump in performance will not affect battery life.
The M2 chipset gives the new MacBook Air a 50% increase in memory bandwidth and up to 24GB of combined memory. The memory limit for MacBook Air with M1 is 16GB. The extra memory can make a big difference for users who plan to do heavy graphics editing and multitasking.
The webcam has also been upgraded from 720p to 1080p with the MacBook Air M2 (2022). The M2 also improves image quality and low-light performance.
Still, the taut webcam and thin faceplates mean there’s a catchy “notch” around the webcam that integrates into the menu bar. The design is the same as on the 14-inch MacBook Pro 2021, the MacBook Pro 16 (2021) has a similar notch, but when it debuted on the older MacBooks, it caused controversy.
Overall, while we’ll refrain from judging until we get the MacBook Air M2 (2022), where we really test its capabilities against the MacBook Air M1 (2020), the performance gains and other improvements are obvious.
MacBook Air M2 (2022) vs. MacBook Air M1 (2020): Which one should you choose?
Choosing between the MacBook Air M2 (2022) and the MacBook Air M1 (2020) is tough enough, which is a testament to the quality of the older laptop.
If you want a modern experience and a performance boost, the MacBook Air M2 (2022) is exactly what you need. The new design is very good, the laptop has become portable and its screen is an important step forward, the M2 is also a great upgrade.
On the other hand, the MacBook Air M1 (2020) remains cheaper, which makes the offer tempting. If you’re not ready to spend a fortune on a laptop, the older model will suit you, as it offers better value for money and is also a great all-around device. Hopefully, we’ll also see a significant price reduction on MacBook Air models with the M1 in the future.