Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) test: our opinion

Since its launch 14 years ago, the MacBook Air has always tried to strike the right balance between price, portability, ease of use and functionality. And since 2008, we can say that Apple has often hit the mark. Thanks to a new design, a larger screen (13.6 inches compared to 13.3 inches previously), a more powerful M2 chip and a long-awaited upgrade to a higher resolution webcam, the new 2022 version of the MacBook Air perpetuates this ideal balance.

The previous MacBook Air M1, with an older design, remains available at €1,199. But you will inevitably be drawn to the M2’s new styling and new features.

The 2020 MacBook Air M1 isn’t a shoddy machine, but it’s based on a design from 2018. The new version shifts from that traditional tapered design to a more cubic look akin to the style of 14’s MacBook Pros. and 16 inches from 2021. It’s a more modern design. We tested the $1,499 entry-level MacBook Air M2 with 8-core CPU and GPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD.


The new MacBook Air adds new colors to space gray and silver, with starlight gold and a deep dark midnight finish. The overall footprint is a bit smaller than before, and it feels slimmer. The overall thickness is 11.3mm, whereas the previous model was thinner at the front, but reached 16mm at the rear hinge. It is also a bit lighter, weighing in at 1.24kg versus 1.29kg.

The MacBook Air M2 (left) next to the MacBook Air M1

To sum up, the main reasons why you will prefer the new MacBook Air over the previous model are as follows:

  • A slimmer and more modern design with new colors;
  • A full HD webcam;
  • A larger and brighter screen (13.6 inches against 13.3 inches);
  • A more powerful M2 processor.

It also adds the new MagSafe power connector also found on the 14/16-inch MacBook Pro, and some configurations include a new 35W dual-port USB-C adapter which is sold as an option at €65.

The Air M2 is thinner at the rear hinge than the older model

Nomadic mode: portable and powerful

A MacBook Air is obviously perfect for working at home or in the office, but it’s also a laptop that can go anywhere with you. So he accompanied us to the café, to the subway, to the office and elsewhere.

The new MacBook Air is only slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor, so don’t expect a drastic change there. But it fits perfectly in a small travel bag. You can easily take it with you on your daily trips.

The brighter display, similar to that of current MacBook Pros, proved valuable when it came to increasing the brightness for writing outdoors. It’s slightly larger (13.6 inches diagonally versus 13.3 inches), which also improves readability. On the other hand, the webcam is inserted in a notch, like on some iPhones.

The midnight blue finish is particularly successful. It’s a look that stands out nicely from the slew of nearly identical laptops, all of which are silver, gray, or… silver gray.

There is, however, a small drawback. This dark, matte color attracts traces like a magnet. So much so that we had to clean the surfaces between each shot for this article. A word of advice: always have a cloth with you if you want your MacBook Air to stay spotless.

M2 vs. M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max

How does the M2 processor compare to other Apple M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips?

Basically, it’s above the original M1 chip (which, like the M2, comes in two versions with different numbers of graphics cores), but below the M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra. The M1 Pro and M1 Max are available in 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. The M1 Ultra, essentially two M1 Max chips side by side, is currently only available in the new Mac Studio.

Not surprisingly, the MacBook Air M2 outperformed the 2020 MacBook Air M1. The M2 version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which was about a month newer than that machine, performed slightly better in some tests than the Air. Why ? Probably because the Pro has a fan, which means the chip can run faster, for longer, without having to throttle itself to cool down.

If you think you’ll hit the performance ceiling of the M2, then you more likely need a 14-inch MacBook Pro or a Mac Studio.

During our MacBook Air trial, we did some Photoshop editing and played through Steam. The more spacious screen proved nice for photo editing. As for games, Baldur’s Gate 3still unfinished, is probably the most recent and well-known title you will be able to play.

Regarding battery life, our endurance test lasted 17 hours and 20 minutes, which is roughly in line with Apple’s estimate. The MacBook Pro M2 ran a few more hours on the same test.

A webcam worthy of the name, finally!

Two new features are coming to the MacBook Air. The first is a MagSafe 3 connection for the power supply already present on the Pro 14-16. It is in addition to the two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports.

Nothing forces you to use the MagSafe cable, you can also opt for any USB-C charger instead. That said, the MagSafe cable is now color-coordinated to the Air, which adds a welcome touch of elegance. Also note that the base MacBook Air M2 does not have the new 35W adapter, but an older 30W model.

The second novelty is much more important: a new full HD 1080p webcam. It’s the same one that equips the 14-/16-inch MacBook Pro. It’s a huge step up from the 720p webcam that’s been on MacBooks for years. This is a change that is long overdue. Now only the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 and MacBook Air M1 still have a 720p webcam. The side-by-side difference is telling. Of all the upgrades, changes and improvements in the new MacBook Air, it’s probably this new webcam that brings the most convenience to use. article adapted by CNETFrance

Images: Dan Ackerman/CNET

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