Why the M2 MacBook Air is easily worth the $200 upgrade

The new M2 MacBook Air is not yet available to buy, but you have probably already heard the chorus of opinions about why the older M1 MacBook Air is a better buy

“It’s fast enough for most people,” they’ll say. “Why would you need any more?”

And as fair as those statements are, the reality of how good this new M2 MacBook Air appears to be has been drowned out. There’s certainly a demographic for the older model, but people stick to the branding more than the laptop itself.

The MacBook ‘Air’

Macbook Air (2022) sits on a desk.

Price is often cited as the M2 MacBook Air’s biggest problem. At $1,199 it’s $200 more expensive than the M1 MacBook Air – and probably even more so when you consider how often the M1 is on sale. That knee-jerk reaction is understandable, especially since we’re used to products in the same line replacing previous models at no extra cost.

But the M2 MacBook Air is far from just an annual upgrade over the previous model. It’s a complete reboot of the MacBook Air, especially in how it looks and feels. The changes may not be as drastic as some of the pre-announcement leaks said – but even as it is, it has little in common with the M1 MacBook Air† In fact, you might say it doesn’t make much sense to even call it a “MacBook Air.”

I’m not going to say that Apple didn’t make it a disaster of his MacBook line† It’s very strange to have three different products within $300 of each other, especially when all three seem to target a similar demographic. It is the main reason why so many people are writing off the M2 MacBook Air.

But go beyond the name, and you’ll find that there’s a lot more on offer here than just a standard update.

It’s more than time for an upgrade

The gold logo and keyboard of the MacBook Air M1.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

As I mentioned, the M1 MacBook Air is loved for its value proposition. But when you look at the physical laptop itself, it doesn’t exactly look like it. It comes from another era of Mac design. The chassis itself dates from 2018, then known as the Retina MacBook Air. At the time, it was a huge leap from the iconic MacBook Airs that it succeeded. The thinness of the chassis was astonishing, as were the shrunken edges and the switch to USB-C.

In 2022 it will be the exact opposite. It looks downright old-fashioned compared to the new M2 MacBook Air. The new Air reduces the thickness to just 0.44 inches thick, which is one of the thinnest laptops you can buy. And while I haven’t tested the device myself yet, I’m not surprised to learn that it has excellent build quality despite its size.

The MacBook Air also repairs the thick bezels, giving you a sleeker look but also a slightly larger screen. It measures 13.6 inches diagonally, giving you more usable screen space for whatever you’re doing. That comes with a notch, yes, but it’s a fair trade-off in my book.

Of course, the M2 MacBook Air also omits the wedge shape of the old Air. Given how many laptops have copied the wedge look over the years, it’s gotten a little stale. The M2 MacBook Air’s flat, ultra-thin design trades that for something simpler and more modern.

However, it is more than just the industrial design. The new model also improves on the screen, speakers and webcam, bringing them on par with what we expect from modern Apple products. Those things alone are worth the $200 in my opinion, especially if you spend a lot of time on video calls.

A New Era for Mac Design

The M2 MacBook Air sits on a desk.

But most importantly, this design is actually built around the efficiency benefits of the M1 and M2 chips† In that sense, it really is the first MacBook Air to take advantage of the extreme efficiency of Apple Silicon. That’s why it can be so thin, remain fanless and give up none of the performance.

Something similar happened with the 24-inch iMac when it was redesigned in 2021. By using a more efficient mobile-style chip (and a much smaller logic board), Apple was able to completely reinvent the design and internal structure of that product. With the iMac, Apple went so far as to nestle the entire “computer” in the bottom chin of the screen. Like the design or not, it’s the M1 that allowed Apple to try something new with the design and make the device significantly slimmer.

The M2 MacBook Air is no different and will likely become the foundation for MacBook Airs of the coming years. The M2 may not be such a major performance upgrade over the M1, but that is not necessary. As many people have stated (myself included), the M1 was more than enough performance for this laptop’s target audience.

But have a design that actually uses that chip? That’s what the new MacBook Air is all about – and that makes it an intriguing alternative to the M1 MacBook Air. I’m sure if I’ve reviewed it myself, but for now I know which of the MacBooks in this price range I’d pick.

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