MacBook Air (2022) M2, review: it’s changed, it’s better (and it’s more expensive)

Have the new in your hands MacBook Air 2022 with processor M2 it’s like meeting an old friend and immediately realizing that something has changed in him. It will be the haircut or the new glasses or those fewer pounds. You know it’s him but he’s a little different. The Air 2022 is no longer the old Air because the design is differentfor the first time since 2008 when Steve Jobs pulled it out of an envelope. Goodbye to the wedge-shaped format, very thin at the tip and wider on the opening mechanism, and welcome to the new flat style, that of the MacBook Pro. But when you use it, when you work on it, when you carry it around, it is always the that MacBook Air that has become and remains a reference point in the category of light and compact notebooks. A laptop ready to use at any time, which with M2 (as it was already for M1) is able to get out of the office software enclosure and go a little further, ready to satisfy even different categories of professionals.

As did

There’s not much to get around it – this MacBook Air 2022 M2 is different, but it’s better. In almost all respects. The flat design loses 50 grams compared to the previous generation and the Air despite not being the lightest ultrabook in the realm for a long time (1,240 gramswhen there are machines weighing less than 1 kilo around), it maintains excellent handling thanks to the well-balanced internal weight distribution. The overall volume of the body, made of recycled aluminum, has been reduced by 20%: it is much thinner than it seems (1.13 cm) when placed on a surface and this is because Apple has applied 4 soft feet underneath, necessary to operate the opening mechanism. Occasionally, when we happen to use it while standing and the Air is on the desk, we lack the versatility of ThinkBook-type laptops that can be opened to 180 degreessolution never entered the MacBook world.

Midnight, time for fingerprints

To the classic silver and space gray colors, Apple has added the Galaxy (a beige-gray) and the Midnight a black with blue shades: it is the color of the Mac that we used in test, nice to see but not as practical. It fills up with fingerprints just looking at it, the dust is very visible and apparently it is quite prone to losing the paint in some delicate points (according to 9to5Mac, it did not happen to us in the week of testing but keep it in mind).

Long live the MagSafe

Compared to the previous generation, this MacBook Air 2022 with M2 marks the return of the beloved charging port MagSafe: avoid dropping the Mac to the ground if you carelessly trip over the cable, it has the LED that lights up when you are charging and makes it possible to use the two ports (Thunderbolt 3 / Usb 4) for everything else. Two ports are certainly not much and we would not have regretted that Apple had managed to bring an SD Card slot to the Air as well. But we can’t complain too much about the miseries of the recent past.

Three power supplies, not one

Of course, you can also use a USB C cable to recharge the Mac, just a power supply with the correct specifications. Apple has 3 versions of the charger:
– one from 30 watts which comes with the basic version of the Air M2
– one from 35 Watt and two Usb ports C (for the more bodied version of the Air M2)
– one from 67 Watts fast charge (but only one Usb C port) to be purchased separately for 65 euros.
Why Apple didn’t make a 67-Watt, two-port version, which would have been Columbus’s egg, remains rather mysterious.

Multimedia: how many steps forward

A computer like the Air is taken to work but also to consume content, whether on social media or on video and music platforms. On this front, everything takes a step forward compared to the previous generation. The screen it rises to 13.6 inches and gains some brightness (100 nits, 400 to 500, but you will barely notice it and only working outdoors). The notch appears in the display, the notch that many people do not tolerate on the iPhone and which Apple is adopting as an identity solution. It doesn’t bother in videos (it gets absorbed by the black bands), but it causes more than one problem with the top bar: software like Bartender can help. The mouse pointer disappears inside the notch leaves you rather disconcerted. The screen does not use mini-LEDs like on the 14/16 inch MacBook Pro or the iPad Pro 12.9 M1: in the dark you will notice that the black is not the perfect one of an OLED or the almost-perfect one of the mini-LEDs.
The new system a 4 speakers it is invisible, inserted between the keyboard and the display: it is not as powerful as that of the MacBook Pro but it pushes enough to be enjoyable even in environments that are not entirely silent.

The decisive step forward is in the webcam: finally the Facetime Camera becomes Full HD (1080p) and the quality, in the era of Zoom / Teams / Meet, is definitely satisfactory. The algorithms that exploit the M2 image processor allow you to bring out good quality even with light sources behind your head or with imperfect ambient light. The microphones are also good: on the videocall front you will make a good impression. The convenience of the Touch ID integrated into the Magic Keyboaard is remarkable, as is the touchpad, which remains the best in its class despite the enormous progress of the Windows world.

M2 and performance

We have already talked about the Apple M2 processor in the test of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, the first laptop on which it arrived. We can only reiterate those considerations: the revolution in the Apple world, and a very strong shock to the entire PC processor sector, came with M1. This M2 is an evolution: despite the name, the performances do not double, nor do they make sensational leaps.
The advances are above all in the graphic field and in particular when you can take advantage of the new Multimedia engine (with hardware encoding / decoding of H.264, Hevc, ProRes and ProRes Raw video formats) which reduces power consumption in resource-heavy uses such as video editing. A machine like the Air is not taken to work continuously (and professionally) on the videos but here we have also managed 8K tracks or 4 streaming in 4K without the M2 going into trouble.

Yes, under stressful loads M2 tends to heat up. The MacBook Air is still a fanless, fanless notebook, and the M2 is clocked at 3.5Ghz versus Air’s 3.2Ghz with M1. At a certain point, in the absence of passive heat dissipation mechanisms, phenomena of thermal limitationthat is, performance is slowed to limit temperatures. It is visible in iterated benchmarks such as Banco Cinebut in actual use over the course of a week of use, it never happened to us; not even when we tried to edit on Final Cut having Mail open in the background, a browser with about twenty tabs open, that Microsoft Teams resource-eating bandwagon, Music, WhatsApp and a Microsoft Remote Desktop virtual machine.
The theme of the hard drive remains. The 512 GB version has performance substantially in line with that of our iMac M1 with the same memory and Ram size. Apparently the basic version from 256 GB, from the tests available on the net, is significantly slower. Not so much that it radically compromises overall performance, but take that into account.

M2 and battery

The comfort of a fanless computer is appreciated by everyone and is priceless. The Apple M1 and later processors have set a new standard in the relationship between (high) performance and (ultra-low) power consumption, even in fanless computers like the Air. Autonomy of this Air M2 is simply excellent and, although lower than that of the MacBook Pro 13, it allowed us to never worry about the remaining autonomy. With a typical use of a MacBook Air (therefore not with Cinebench or with hours and hours of Final Cut) we have peacefully passed a day of work, settling around at 10.5-11 hours. Apple claims 15 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video playback.

Prices and conclusions: which one to choose

The MacBook Air in its more than ten-year history has alternated very successful versions with forgettable ones. This Air 2022 with M2 is placed at the top of the fork: it is not a revolution like its predecessor with M1 but has all the little things in placefrom the MagSafe to the larger display with finally reduced frames, from the quality webcam (when most of the high-end Windows notebooks offer us really poor 72op webcams) to the convenience of Touch ID, with performances that go far beyond an Office use up to the autonomy we have mentioned.
The real sore point is the price. The increase in the prices of raw materials and containers and inflation and the dollar / euro exchange rate and the production crises in China and the war are fine, everything is fine but MacBook Air M1 it came out in the same memory slot (8/256 GB) a 1,159 euros. MacBook Air 2022 M2 costs 1,529 euros, 32% more. And the 8/256 euro memory cut in 2022, in a computer that you won’t be able to expand in any way after purchase, is starting to go a little tight.
Considering also the narrow performance delta, if you find an Air M1 under € 1,000 (with the offers it also dropped to 899) it is not worth spending 5-600 euros more for this version with M2.

You can buy the MacBook Air M2 on Amazon at this link.

Which MacBook to choose

Apart from the aforementioned MacBook Air M1, the closest alternative to this Air M2 is the MacBook Pro 13 M2 (here the review), preferable to this Air if you like the Touch Bar (it is the only MacBook to keep it) or if you want a MacBook that is still compact but with an extra performance cue.

You can buy MacBook Pro 13 (M2) on Amazon here.

If dimensions and weight are not a big problem, and if you are thinking of the more powerful version of the Air that exceeds 1,800 euros, also consider the hypothesis of the MacBook Pro 14. Especially if you have important workloads in sectors such as video, photo or audio editing, or in programming.