Apple’s new MacBook Air is a near-perfect update, but don’t rule out the older model – CNBC | Hot Mobile Press

A new MacBook Air with the M2 chip is on display during Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California June 6, 2022.

Peter Dasilva | Reuters

Apple’s new $1,199 MacBook Air, featuring its latest processor, the M2, hits stores Friday. I tested it for a week and I think it’s the MacBook most people should buy.

The 2022 MacBook Air offers the biggest MacBook redesign since 2010. It ditches the conical shell of previous models and is 20% smaller than its predecessor thanks to updated internals. It’s got a bigger screen, faster processor, better speakers, updated camera, and more.

Apple’s Mac revenue rose 15% year over year to $10.4 billion in the second quarter, largely due to the M1 processor and a slew of new Macs running on it. The MacBook Air with M2 will help the device keep that momentum, especially as the back-to-school season approaches.

Here’s what you need to know about it.

What is good

Apple usually sends a high-end MacBook Air for testing, but this year they sent me the $1,199 entry-level model. That means I can try the version I think most people will end up buying. You get a lot for your money here for a laptop that should last for many years. Given the design and updated features like MagSafe, it almost feels like a MacBook Pro Lite. It’s good.

The first thing you’ll notice is the new, thinner design. I like that it feels balanced and light but has a more refined design similar to the 14-inch MacBook Pro that starts at $1,999.

Apple upgraded the screen from a Retina display to a Fluid Retina display that’s brighter and more colorful than the previous model. There’s a notch at the top, just like the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, but the notch didn’t bother me when using the 14-inch MacBook Pro that I own.

The speakers sound good. I found the stereo speakers on the last model to be solid, but the M2 MacBook Air has two additional speakers for a total of four, making movies and music sound fuller. But they still fall short of the incredible speakers that you get if you’re willing to spend almost double the price on the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

I love the keyboard. It’s back to the tried and tested version of the M1 MacBook Air. Typing is easy and doesn’t have any flaws like the old Butterfly version, which felt too flat and tended to repeat key presses and stuck keys.

MagSafe is here too, just like the 14-inch MacBook Pro. That’s the little magnetic charging cable that pops up on the side and pops back out easily. So if you trip over the cable, the whole MacBook won’t fall off your desk. You can also charge the laptop using one of two Thunderbolt USB-C ports. You can quickly charge it up to 50% in 30 minutes if you buy Apple’s $59 67-watt charger.

The charger should be included in the entry-level model, but Apple is offering it for free if you upgrade to the 512GB version. I prefer fast charging and the charger worked well so I recommend buying it.

The M2 chip was fast enough for my needs, e.g. B. running many tabs in Safari, playing music, watching movies or light gaming. I also thought the M1 was great, so people coming off that chip might not notice much of a difference unless you’re measuring things like video rendering speeds. And if you’re the kind of person who really needs a lot of speed, you should just get the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple promises 18 hours of battery life with a screen brightness of around 50%. I did a video rundown test, repeating a movie non-stop until the battery died, and got just over 17 hours. I was streaming the movie and had things like the keyboard backlight turned on, both of which impact battery life. It’ll get you through a work day and beyond, and you’ll definitely have enough battery life to watch movies for an entire flight.

What is bad

The name of the M2 chip can be confusing: it’s faster than the M1, but no more powerful than the M1 Pro or M1 Max in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. And it’s more limited than those chips. You can only add one external monitor, for example, as opposed to two on the M1 Pro or four on the M1 Max. That’s the same limitation as the M1 chip, and it’s a bummer for people like me who typically run two extra monitors.

Apple has also finally upgraded the camera from 720p to full 1080p HD. It’s better, but I think it could be sharper – for example, my skin looked overly smooth. And things like lights in the background showed visible streaks. Independent webcams with larger lenses are still a better option if you want to look good while video chatting.

should you buy it

This is the MacBook most people should buy. You don’t need to upgrade if you have the M1 model, but it’s definitely a big difference from the older Intel versions.

In fact, Apple still sells the 2020 M1 MacBook Air for $999. I think the extra $200 is worth it for a newer computer that has longer support and charges faster, a better webcam, better speakers, an updated design, and more. But you shouldn’t rule out the cheaper older option if you’re looking to save money. It’s still an amazing laptop.

I bought the more expensive 14-inch MacBook Pro when it launched last year because it had more ports, better speakers, and an even nicer display, but it has way more processing power than I’ll ever need. The new MacBook Air with M2 is about half the price, lighter, has a great screen and speakers, and a processor that lasts for years. I would have bought it instead if it had launched at the same time.

CLOCK: Apple introduces MacBook Air with new M2 chip

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