What’s wrong with Apple’s new MacBook Air M2 (2022)

Highly anticipated, the best-selling Mac has been brought up to date. After the euphoria of WWDC 2022, it’s time to ask whether this new MacBook Air M2 lives up to expectations.

MB Air 2022 // Source: Frandroid – Melinda DAVAN-SOULAS

The MacBook Air has been Apple’s signature laptop since Steve Jobs pulled it out of an envelope in 2008. This year, Apple announced the fourth major iteration of the MacBook Air, changing almost everything.

We compared it to the MacBook Air M1 (2020), MacBook Pro 14 (2021), and MacBook Pro 13 (2022). The range of MacBooks is very wide with machines whose sizes are comparable, but whose performance is very different.

If you haven’t read the various articles on the Air M2, including Melinda’s hands-on, here’s a summary of the main changes.

Apple-WWDC22-MacBook-Air-Liquid-Retina-Display-220606
The design of the MacBook Air 2022 is similar to the design of the MacBook Pro 14 and 16″, the appearance is more square and the thickness is similar throughout the case

The screen is now larger, 13.6 inches diagonally, with a notch that houses a camera now in 1080p definition. The screen is also capable of reaching 500 nits of brightness and ensures a P3 wide color gamut for a billion colors, but that’s not the Mini-LED technology of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros.

In terms of connectivity, few changes, except for the notable addition of MagSafe charging, which allows the two Thunderbolt ports to remain available during charging. The audio jack supports high impedance headphones now. The Touch ID button is also a welcome addition.

Apple-WWDC22-MacBook-Air-MagSafe-220606
The MagSafe is here

Of course, the biggest change to the MacBook Air is inside the case, with the new M2 chip that Apple says delivers 1.4 times the performance of the M1 model depending on the task, assuming you choose the more expensive option: the eight-core processor and a 10-core GPU.

The amount of basic RAM can limit the machine

The new MacBook Air equipped with the Apple M2 chip, like the one with the M1 chip, are all equipped with 8 GB of RAM by default, and Apple offers an option, billed at more than 200 euros, to go up to 16 GB.

We had several months to compare the 8GB version to the 16GB version on previous M1 Macs. It is clear that on Xcode, video export or Lightroom, the 8 GB version is lagging behind its 16 GB big brother, in all three tests.

Obviously, if you are doing heavy video editing work, 8GB will cause you problems. It’s a shame that’s still the default amount of RAM on newer MacBook Airs, with a $230 option to upgrade to 16GB (and $230 more for 24GB). Again, this probably isn’t an everyday use case, but it shows how far you can push this 8GB RAM configuration. It’s powerful for most people, but it can be a real handicap for heavy tasks.

Prices are even higher

The MacBook Air 2022 M2 is sold from 1,499 euros and 1,384 euros at the Education price. Apple continues to sell the MacBook Air with M1 chip and 7-core GPU, from 1,199 euros.

The entry-level is equipped with an M2 with an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD, all for 1,499 euros. The version with the M2 10 cores in the GPU part and 512 GB of storage is at 1,849 euros.

Model Apple MacBookAir M1 Apple MacBookAir M2 Apple MacBook Pro 13 Apple MacBook Pro 14
Core chip Apple M1 Apple M2 Apple M2 Apple M1 Pro
Basic RAM 8.16 GB 8, 16, 24 GB 8, 16, 24 GB 8, 16, 32, 64 GB
Basic storage 256 GB 256 GB 256 GB 512 GB
Screen 13.3″, Retina 13.6″, Liquid Retina 13.3″, Retina 14.2″, Liquid Retina XDR
Connectors 2 USB-C, 1 headphone port 2 USB-C, 1 headphone port 2 USB-C, 1 headphone port 3 USB-C, 1 headphone port, 1 HDMI and 1 SDXC slot
Audio Stereo speakers Quad-speaker audio system Stereo speakers Six-speaker audio system
Battery 49.9Wh battery 56.2Wh battery 58.2Wh battery 70Wh battery
Base rate 1199 euros 1499 euros 1599 euros 2249 euros

In short, it’s expensive. The entry ticket for the most recent MacBook Air increases since the previous models were respectively 1,129 euros and 1,399 euros.

No Mini-LED

The MacBook Air screen is changing from Retina technology to Liquid Retina. If you no longer have Apple’s vocabulary in mind, it means that the MacBook Air does not benefit from the mini-LED technology of the MacBook Pro and the 12.3-inch iPad Pro.

It is therefore a classic IPS LCD, while Mini-LED is found on the 12.3-inch iPad Pro. We therefore have a screen that embeds a notch in order to enlarge the surface of the screen (13.6″), with thinner borders and a brightness which increases slightly from 400 nits to 500 nits. The change is meager.

No touchscreen

You could tell us: yes, but there is the iPad. However, since 2021, iPhone apps are supposed to work on Mac. Even if the experience is a bit buggy, there are now many iPad/iPhone apps in the Mac App Store.

Screenshot 2022-06-08 at 15.44.01
Frandroid is on the Mac App Store in iOS version

Apple has created a system for each iOS application available in the Mac menu called ” Touch Alternatives“. This is a series of buttons, gestures, and other spellcasting incantations for using apps that require a touchscreen on a Mac. It’s frankly ridiculous and the clearest sign yet is that Apple is bending over backwards to avoid doing what obviously needs to be done: putting a touchscreen on the Mac.

No fun colors

We quibble over this last point, but it remains significant. The new colors introduced by Apple are a very beautiful dark blue called ” Midnight and a light gold called ” starlight“. No fun colors like on the iPad Air, it’s a shame for a machine that’s supposed to be for the general public.

Air

No USB-C on the right

This is a recurring problem on MacBooks, despite the departure of Jony Ive who dreamed of minimalism (we will remember the 12-inch Retina MacBook with a single USB-C port).

Apple-WWDC22-MacBook-Air-headphone-jack-220606
On the right, we just have a headphone port

While the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 have full connectivity, including HDMI and an SDXC slot, nothing has changed on the Air 2022. There is no USB-C on the right side of the case, which is an ergonomic problem on some desks.

In fact, the new MacBook Air 2022 is a machine that will certainly be a benchmark in the market. Nevertheless, it is clear that the price increase and some stinginess from Apple make us a little less enthusiastic. Now let’s wait for the extensive tests to better understand what the M2 chip has in its belly.


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