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Apple just quietly future-proofed last year's 13-inch MacBook Air, and it's a big deal

One of the best laptops last year sees across-the-board improvements thanks to a shift in connection standards.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor

Last year's 13-inch M2 MacBook Air was ZDNET's Product of 2022. It was ultraportable, equipped with just the right screen size, and had the specs to power most users' workflows, including video editing, multi-window browsing, and streaming movies on command.

Also: I can't recommend the 15-inch MacBook Air enough, even if it's not for me

Not to be outdone by the release of a larger 15-inch MacBook Air, Apple recently gave the 13-inch option one secret and invaluable upgrade: Bluetooth 5.3.

What does Bluetooth 5.3 entail? Besides general improvements to connection speeds, stability, and power efficiency (read: better battery life), here are the main benefits compared to Bluetooth 5.0, according to Bluetooth's website.

  • Periodic Advertising Enhancement: The constant transferring of redundant data between devices is now more efficient and energy-saving.
  • Encryption Key Size Control Enhancement: Device hosts can establish a minimum encryption key length to prevent third parties from accessing transferred data.
  • Connection Subrating: Seamless switching between low and high-duty cycles to ensure the most optimal connections.
  • Channel Classification Enhancement: Bluetooth Low Energy devices can now classify channels and adapt their connections based on the most reliable channel maps.

Previously, the 13-inch MacBook Air was listed with Bluetooth 5.0 on Apple's technical specifications page, falling short of the speeds and efficiency gains that other Apple products had, like the latest iPhones, iPad Pro, Apple Watch, and even second-generation AirPods Pro. The page has since been updated with Bluetooth 5.3.

Also: MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro: How to decide which Apple laptop to buy

Now, through some quiet system patch -- or perhaps Apple simply mislabelled the 13-inch Air with Bluetooth 5.0 instead of 5.3 since the very beginning -- the laptop supports the latest and greatest standard of wireless device-to-device connection.

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