Apple's most budget-friendly MacBook saw its first major update since the introduction of the original M1 processor.
What's new in the M2 MacBook Air?
Apple's best-selling laptop underwent several external and internal changes, let's take a look at them.
The new MacBook Air will serve as one of the debut platforms for the new M2 chip. Apple new SoC (System on a Chip) promises its new 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU will provide 18% improved performance over its M1-powered predecessor. It supports 100GB/s of unified memory bandwidth, allowing it to handle as much as 24GB of unified memory for "more complex workloads."
The combined upgrades also now support a next-generation media and ProRes video engines for "hardware-accelerated encode and decode." Apple claims will "dramatically speed up video workflows" for editors working on the thin-and-light laptop.
Apple's upgraded silicon is also designed to be as power-efficient as possible as well, providing the same battery life as the M1 MacBook Air, despite its performance improvements. The company pegs the video playback time for the device at 18 hours.
Exterior design and cooling
The MacBook Air's losing its wedge-shaped design for the first time. Instead, Apple is opting for an 11.3mm thin squared-off configuration, much closer to the MacBook Pro's aesthetic. However, unlike the Pro, the new MacBook Air will come in a quartet of colors: silver, space grey, starlight, and midnight.
The redesigned, all-aluminum unibody design takes up 20% less volume, according to Apple. It weighs 2.7 pounds.
Despite the tight quarter, Apple's fanless enclosure will run completely silent 100% of the time, thanks to improvements in heat management built into the M2 chip and redesigned chasis.
MagSafe and ports
Apple's latest iteration of its magnet-based, breakaway charger is returning to the MacBook Air line. The device ships with a new, "compact" 35W charger that includes an extra USB-C port for charging a second device from the same power outlet. It now also supports fast-charging technology that can bring the MacBook Air up to 50% charge in just 30 minutes, via an optional 67-watt fast charger.
Apple also plans to introduce a new compact wall charger with 2 USB-C ports to simultaneously charge 2 devices.
Adding a MagSafe port means the two included Thunderbolt ports will be left free for peripherals and other purposes.
Aside from the duo of Thunderbolt ports, the only other port is a revamped 3.5mm audio jack that supports high-impedance headphones.
Liquid Retina display
This new 13.6-inch display supports 500 nits of brightness, thinner borders, and 1 billion colors in a package that Apple claims is 25% brighter than its predecessor's display.
The new MacBook Air webcam has a 1080p resolution. Apple claims this is twice the resolution as its 720p predecessor. It also supports twice the lowlight performance thanks to a new "advanced image signal processor" built into the M2 chip, the manufacturer claims.
Audio upgrades and keyboard changes
Four speakers and a trio of new microphones are located "between the keyboard and display" to help them fit within "such a thin design," Apple said. Despite their compact nature, the company claims the speakers provide improved stereo separation for all media, and better voice clarity for video calls.
The new MacBook Air also supposed immersive Spatial Audio for music and movies with Dolby Atmos.
It's especially impressive that Apple managed to squeeze all this sound hardware into this space given the fact that it also expanded its keyboard to now feature a a full-height function row with Touch ID support via a much larger key than the previous M1 MacBook Air provided.
When will the new M2 MacBook and upgraded MacBook Pro models be available?
Both units are expected to be available starting in July 2022.
How much will the new M2 MacBook Air and upgraded MacBook Pro models cost?
The new MacBook Air will begin at $1,199, or $1,099 for education customers.
The existing M1 MacBook Air will also remain on sale for $999.
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The upgraded MacBook Pro models packing the M2 chip will start at $1,299, or $1,199 for education customers.