Apple lifts the lid on the M2-powered MacBook Air

Max Figgett
7 Jun 2022

The MacBook Air gets a major design overhaul and the new Apple M2 chip

Apple has given its ever-popular MacBook Air a major refresh, which goes on sale in July: it’s now slimmer than ever at just 11.3mm and has a larger 13.6in Liquid Retina display, as well as a longer claimed battery life of 18 hours. Most important, though, is the inclusion of Apple’s new M2 chip, which comprises an eight-core processor and an eight or ten-core GPU (up two cores on the previous model) to provide more performance grunt for creative workloads and gaming.

As you’d expect, this also means a much higher launch price. The M2 MacBook Air starts at £1,249 for the version with the eight-core GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and £1,549 for the model with the ten-core GPU, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Apple is also updating the MacBook Pro 13in with the M2 processor, with prices starting at £1,349 for the model with the ten-core CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The changes to the 13in MacBook Pro are far more modest, however, and begin and end with the new chip.

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Returning to the M2 MacBook Air, it certainly makes a visual impact. It’s slimmer and lighter than the M1 MacBook Air and comes in two new colourways: Midnight and Starlight. Judging from the photos, the former is the darkest colour the MacBook Air has ever been, while the latter is a muted gold. Perhaps most significantly, however, the classic – and famous – wedge-shaped profile of the MacBook Air has been consigned to the bin. This updated MacBook Air looks much more like the rest of the lineup now.

There’s also a larger display at 13.6in (versus 13.3in) and this now fills more of the width of the laptop, while being a notable 25% brighter than its predecessor at 500 nits and supporting a billion colours. Given that we were blown away by the M1 MacBook Air’s “fabulous display”, we’ve got high hopes for the bigger version.

Elsewhere, the resolution of the laptop’s FaceTime HD camera has been boosted from 720p to 1080p and it’s housed in a notch, just like on the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro. Apple says the new webcam will perform better in low light and it’s matched by a four-speaker sound system that, according to the company, “produces improved stereo separation and vocal clarity”. 

The M2 MacBook Air marks the return of the MagSafe charging port, meaning you won’t send your new laptop flying across the room if you accidentally trip over the cable, and this sits alongside two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and a 3.5mm audio jack. There’s been a small keyboard shuffle, too: the squashed Function keys of the M1 MacBook Air have been replaced with full-height versions.

While the M2 MacBook Air comes with a new 35W charger with two USB-C ports to power up a pair of devices at the same time, you can also pay extra for a 67W version. Apple says that this will get your laptop to 50% in 30 minutes.

All of these design tweaks look like they’ll improve on an already five-star laptop, but it’s the M2 chip that rightly steals the headlines. Watch this space for our in-depth review of the M2 MacBook Air, where we’ll see if it lives up to the promise – and the price increase.

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