MacBook Air (2022) review: A brilliant update in almost every way – Metro.co.uk | Hot Mobile Press

The MacBook Air has undergone its most extensive overhaul yet for the 2022 edition (Image credit: Metro.co.uk)

When Apple introduced the new MacBook Air at WWDC in June, it called the model its most popular laptop.

It’s not difficult to understand why.

Ever since Apple’s legendary co-founder Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air, it’s been a hit. The whole ethos of the Air is to give users a thin and light laptop with great performance and all-day battery life.

It’s not the processing powerhouse of the MacBook Pro, but rather Apple’s everyday laptop that’s well-suited to most workers.

And the company has improved on the last 2020 model in (almost) every way.

First of all, the design is different. Gone is the iconic wedge shape in favor of a more solid, plate-like approach. It’s better looking, more modern and actually thinner than the old Air design.

The chassis of the 2020 Air was 16mm thick and this new version reduces it to a mere 11mm. The weight is about the same.

The MacBook Air comes in four different colors and does without the wedge-shaped design (Credits: Apple)

The MacBook Air comes in four different colors and does without the wedge-shaped design (Credits: Apple)

Apple kept ports to a minimum — two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack — but brought back the MagSafe charging cable.

This means you can keep the Air powered on or charging without sacrificing any of the USB-C slots, and also be able to pull the cable away without the entire laptop falling to the floor. Speaking of cables, it’s actually a very nice braided cable connected to a 30W USB-C power adapter.

It would have been nice if this update included an SD card reader – but unfortunately, Air owners can’t do without dongles just yet.

Welcome back, MagSafe (Source: Apple)

Welcome back, MagSafe (Source: Apple)

Although Apple’s design has changed, the quality remains the same. The rigid case doesn’t give in, the materials feel premium, and the lid can be lifted with just one finger.

The one part of the redesigned Air that I have a bit of a problem with is the screen.

Apple has made the Air’s display slightly larger this time, from 13.3 inches to 13.6 inches. The borders have been trimmed and the corners rounded. It’s also been made brighter for outdoor use and the color accuracy is excellent as far as I can tell.

But it also has a notch. While I don’t particularly notice it on an iPhone, it’s hard to miss on Air. Additionally, if you use the menu bar a lot and put a ton of extra stuff up there, the notch totally gets in the way. I appreciate that the screen gets bigger on either side due to the extra vertical real estate. But it’s still an eyesore.

A great screen, but the notch is hard to ignore (Image credit: Metro.co.uk)

A great screen, but the notch is hard to ignore (Image credit: Metro.co.uk)

At least the webcam has been updated. Inside there’s now a 1080p camera, which is a significant improvement over the last Air’s 720p camera. And since I (like many others) have at least one video call a day when working remotely, it’s a huge benefit.

Finally, a note on color: Apple has expanded color options beyond silver and space gray. You also now have a choice of Midnight (a cool bluish black) and Starlight (a shimmering silver-gold).

The loan unit from Metro came in silver (Credit: Metro.co.uk)

The loan unit from Metro came in silver (Credit: Metro.co.uk)

External changes aside, the Air’s big update is found internally in its processor. The Apple-built M2 chip offers 18 percent more multi-core performance and 35 percent faster graphics, according to Apple.

The M2 chip has a few tricks up its sleeve. It includes a media engine with a higher bandwidth video decoder supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC playback.

There’s also a ProRes Media Engine for hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding. While the dedicated video editor or creative professional may choose the MacBook Pro, for the enthusiastic amateur, the Air is a perfectly maintainable Final Cut Pro machine.

The M2 processor means the Air can handle advanced apps like Final Cut Pro (Image credit: Apple)

The M2 processor means the Air can handle advanced apps like Final Cut Pro (Image credit: Apple)

This new processor, capable of running iOS apps natively, also features a Neural Engine capable of handling 15.8 trillion operations per second. Which Apple says is over 40 percent more than M1.

The base model Air (the version Apple loaned me for this review) comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. I think if possible most people would benefit from going to the next level and configuring it to 16GB of RAM with 512GB of storage. You also get a slightly more powerful (35W) charging brick.

That, of course, takes a laptop from £1,249 to one that costs £1,749. That’s a massive leap that can go even higher if you want 24GB of RAM and 1TB or 2TB of storage.

But if you’re hoping to keep this machine for a good five or six years, using it most days, and multitasking often – you’ll likely find that the extra upfront cost is well worth it in the long run.

MacBook Air's multitasking capabilities will increase if you opt for more RAM (Source: Apple)

MacBook Air’s multitasking capabilities will increase if you opt for more RAM (Source: Apple)

Finally, battery life is perhaps the feature that people use the most (and for which the MacBook Air range is famous).

Apple says that even with a larger display and more power, the 2022 MacBook Air still has all-day battery life: That means up to 15 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 18 hours of video playback.

During my time with the Air I’ve managed to multitask a full 8 hour day with the energy left over.

That has led to a lot of website multitasking in Chrome and Safari, video conferencing via Zoom, playing music with Spotify, and the occasional photo editing on demand.

The keyboard is a huge improvement over the older butterfly-style keys and there's no longer a Touch Bar at the top either (Image credit: Metro.co.uk)

The keyboard is a huge improvement over the older butterfly-style keys and there’s no longer a Touch Bar at the top either (Image credit: Metro.co.uk)

The Air isn’t meant to be a pure gaming machine, but thanks to Apple Arcade I was able to relax for a few hours after work with games like Fantasian or Oceanhorn 2.

As always, the usual benefit of the Apple ecosystem comes into play, so if you’re an existing iPhone user or have a few sets of AirPods, you’ll benefit from the cross-functionality.

Suffice it to say that the 2022 Air is a brilliant upgrade in every way. It’s the makeover that should be the format needed and a top contender for the vast majority of people when choosing their next laptop.


MacBook Air: the details

The redesigned MacBook Air comes with Apple's new M2 processor.  (Image credit: Apple)

The redesigned MacBook Air comes with Apple’s new M2 processor. (Image credit: Apple)

Surname: Apple MacBook Air (2022)

Price: £1,249 (8GB/256GB)

What is good:

  • Updated design with MagSafe charging
  • Battery life
  • M2 performance

What is bad:

  • The notch
  • Missing SD card reader

Where can I buy one? The MacBook Air is available directly from Apple or alternatively from Currys and John Lewis.

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