We do not understand why Apple sells a MacBook Pro M2 in front of the MacBook Air M2

The first two computers equipped with the Apple M2 chip are the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. Strangely, only the first has the right to a new design with a larger screen and the return of the MagSafe port.

On the occasion of WWDC 2022 on June 6, Numerama had the opportunity to play with the new MacBook Air M2 in preview. Apple’s new laptop, with its more symmetrical bezels than before, larger screen (with notch), enlarged keyboard, 1080p webcam, magnetic charging port and new colors has, let’s face it, much attracted. We look forward to further testing this MacBook Air which, if all goes well, could quickly become the benchmark computer on the market. We can only hope that the M2 chip is as good as the M1 chip, especially in terms of battery management.

At 1,499 euros, the MacBook Air’s only drawback is that it costs more than its predecessor with the M1 chip (1,199 euros, 1,129 in the past). Its more direct competitor is the new MacBook Pro, also equipped with an M2 chip, but sold for 1,599 euros. Despite this higher price, the MacBook Air M2 seems superior to the MacBook Pro M2 in every way.

A “Pro” MacBook only in name

In a month, when the new Mac M2 will be marketed, it is easy to imagine consumers being fooled by the names of these two devices. ‘Pro’ sounds better than ‘Air’, which might entice a few newbies to go for the more expensive machine. What is it really?

Already, remember that the MacBook Pro M2 does not really belong to Apple’s Pro range. As for several years, Apple separates its “MacBook Pro” family into two categories:

  • Entry-level MacBook Pros, which are less powerful and have fewer ports (like the new MacBook Pro M2 or MacBook Pro M1).
  • MacBook Pros really cut out for professionals, which are more powerful, benefit from new advanced technologies (mini-LED screen) and have more connectors (like the MacBook Pro M1 Pro).
Here’s Apple’s most expensive MacBook Pro, with a new design and M1 Pro or M1 Max chips. The M2 version uses a design dating from 2016. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

Buying a MacBook Pro M2 is like buying a computer that looks like the 2016 MacBook Pro, but with an Apple Silicon chip from 2022. It’s probably a very powerful and very durable device, but it’s not just that. it belongs to the “pro” category. Especially since the MacBook Air has the same chip.

A clearly better equipped MacBook Air

Let’s go back to the MacBook Air 2022 which, for once, introduces a brand new design. Farewell to the 13.3-inch screen emblematic of this range, we now go to 13.6 inches thanks to a reduction in the borders on the sides. This MacBook Air also has the right to a more symmetrical chassis. Its thickness is now 1.13 cm everywhere, whereas it was 0.41-1.61 cm on the old models, which were not completely flat. It is also Apple’s lightest computer (1.24 kg), ahead of the Air M1 (1.29 kg) and the Pro M2 (1.4 kg).

In addition to this new design, the MacBook Air M2 has the right to a 1080p FaceTime camera, while the other two entry-level MacBooks remain in 720p. It also benefits from four speakers, while the MacBook Pro only has two. Its keyboard is also a bit larger thanks to real function keys, whereas the MacBook Pro retains the Touch Bar that Apple discontinued with the MacBook Pro M1 Pro and M1 Max.

MacBook Air M2 One
We were able to try out the MacBook Air M2 at Apple Park. // Source: Numerama

In terms of autonomy and recharging, the Air M2 and Pro M2 each have their own arguments. The MacBook Air is the only one compatible with MagSafe magnetic charging (it also has two USB Type-C ports), but the MacBook Pro has a higher capacity battery (58.2 Wh, compared to 56.2 Wh). On paper, it’s very likely that the Pro M2 will be a little more durable than the Air M2, but the difference shouldn’t be huge. The Pro M2 also has the advantage of coming with a more powerful charger (67W, compared to 30 or 35W depending on the Air you choose).

Macbook Air M2 MacBook Pro M2
Screen size 13.6 inches ✅ 13.3 inches ❌
Brightness Up to 500 cd/m2 Up to 500 cd/m2
Keyboard Large function keys Touch Bar
Thickness 1.13cm 1.56cm
Weight 1.24kg 1.4kg
Webcam quality 1080p 720p
Number of speakers 4 2
Ports MagSafe + 2 USB-C + jack 2 USB-C + jack
battery size 56.2Wh 58.2Wh
Charger in the box 30W or 35W (two ports) 67W
design year 2022 2016
Number of colors 4 2
Fans Nope Yes
Price From 1499 euro From 1599 euro

As our table shows, the MacBook Air wins almost everything in the difference game. The only advantage of the MacBook Pro is that it has a slightly larger battery and a cooling system that normally should only be used very little.

We haven’t compared their performance in our chart since, as you’ve probably already figured out, the components inside the MacBook Air M2 and MacBook Pro M2 are the same. So they do the same thing.

Are MacBook Pro fans useful?

The major difference between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro is the presence of a cooling system inside the MacBook Pro. If you’re doing a lot on your computer and its chip gets hot, only the MacBook Pro will be able to run fans to reduce its temperature. The MacBook Air will restrict its performance until it returns to normal temperature.

MacBook Air closed
The MacBook Air 2022 closed. // Source: Numerama

Does this make the MacBook Air too limited a day-to-day machine? We might have thought so two years ago, but our experiences with Apple Silicon chips lead us to believe that this is a false argument. To tell you the truth, the author of this article has been using a MacBook Pro M1 since its release in November 2020 and has not once heard its fans spinning. Apple Silicon chips, by design, do not cause overheating issues. In other words, unless you spend a lot of time on 8K editing (but why take an Air M2 and not a Pro M1 Pro then?), we think that a fanless computer will not be a problem for you.

The existence of a MacBook Pro M2 without any aesthetic novelties still leaves us speechless. Faced with a MacBook Air M2 designed to crush everything in its path, we do not understand why Apple keeps an entry-level MacBook Pro in its catalog. Our tests of the MacBook Air M2 will tell you if our first impressions are the right ones.

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