MacBook Air M2: Apple outdid itself and built upon an already-perfect notebook
For the longest time, the MacBook Air — as a device category — has had a special place in my heart. Even when it was still relatively thick and not as modern-looking, this product has always stood out. When most Windows laptops still had bulky builds, the unrivaled MacBook Air just shone as a sleek, yet powerful, unit. Eventually, Apple introduced its own silicon — the final bullet that pierced through Windows’ head. There it rested on my desktop, the MacBook Air M1, with its Space Gray chassis — so bright, despite its dark finish.
I had been using the MacBook Air M1 for over a year when Apple introduced the M2 variant. I had wondered for a while — how can Apple further improve the perfect M1 notebook? It’s already so light, portable, capable, and relatively affordable. In fact, I’ve always favored the Air model over the Pro ones. It just looks more premium and minimalistic, thanks to its paper-thin design. Then, somehow, during WWDC22, Apple managed to outperform itself by introducing the MacBook Air M2.
MacBook Air M2 Design: Midnight is a dream come true
It’s no secret that I always opt for the darkest shade available when picking a new device. I think there’s beauty in an all-black slab that conceals any sensors, holes, or bezels. When you look at a black device from afar, all of its imperfections fade away. It’s true that it might lack personality, but it surely has an unmatched, solid presence. So when Apple announced the MacBook Air M2, I instantly decided to go for the — spoiler alert — Midnight finish.
As I’ve mentioned, I had been using the Space Gray MacBook Air M1. That’s simply because Midnight isn’t available for this model. Apple introducing a Midnight option with the M2 scratched an itch I had forgotten about. Why settle for a dark gray when you can get an unadulterated black finish with all of its unique glory? If the M1 variant was perfect, the M2 model is merely perfect-er.
Though, I have to admit, as much as I love the boxed design (in general), the rounded MacBook Air M1 has a higher-end touch to it. I can’t pinpoint if it’s the matte black color or the straighter chassis behind this. However, when holding and looking at the M2 model, something about it feels cheaper. Of course, that’s my own subjective opinion, and despite that, I think the Midnight finish is worth it.
Another notable touch in the design territory is the speaker system. On the M1 model, the speaker grilles are visible on the right and left sides of the keyboard. Not only do they interfere with the notebook’s minimalistic build, but they also are hard to clean. The MacBook Air M2 perfects this aspect and addresses the problem by relocating the speakers. They’re now hiding next to the hinges, doing their job invisibly.
Display: The cutout is notch intrusive
Every time Apple introduces a notch on one of its devices, the internet — almost collectively — has to lose its mind. Yes, screen cutouts aren’t ideal. However, until the Cupertino overlord gets to achieve a notch-less design, these inconvenient compromises save us from having to stare at uniform, yet bulky, display bezels. I’ve been using the MacBook Air M2 for around a month now, and I can assure you that the notch doesn’t interfere with your workflow. You just adapt to it and forget it exists.
Remember how I stated that the M1 model felt perfect at the time? The M2 upgrade somehow manages to find tiny imperfections in it and smoothens them out. In the display department, it’s the rounded corners. Now that I’ve adapted to those, right-angled screens just look disturbingly ancient. That’s not to mention that the rounded ones on the MacBook Air M2 now match those of newer iPad and iPhone models. Yes, something does feel cheaper about the Midnight chassis. However, the display most certainly is a significant upgrade — when compared to the MacBook Air M1.
Speaking of the notch, the webcam has received an upgrade from 720p to 1080p. I’m not here to compare technical specifications, though. Instead, I’m sharing my personal opinions based on practical, real-life scenarios. How has the webcam upgrade on the MacBook Air M2 affected me? My room can be somewhat dim, even with the lights on. Just like my device finishes, I like sitting in dim environments. When using the MacBook Air M1 to make video calls, my stream would sometimes look grainy, due to the low light. Under the same conditions, the M2 model manages to capture a clear feed. The difference is definitely visible.
Ports: The fewer, the Airier
My published opinions here often cause subsequent waves of hatred. So why not just go all in? I’m a proud supporter of port-less devices. If a completely port-less build can’t be achieved just yet, then a single charging port suffices. Obviously, I’m not pushing for a world where every single device has no ports — I get their valid use cases. However, this is the MacBook Air, not Pro. Pro users can keep their ports and have more of them. The Air model caters to a different category of users. My work, like many other people’s, is completely wireless. I have literally never used any MacBook port — except for charging.
I was thrilled to see Apple not including the wide variety of ports it introduced on the MacBook Pro 14 and 16. Obviously, the MagSafe 3 charging port is a very welcome addition. Though, I would like to see the Cupertino firm dropping all other ports down the road. A man can dream. Speaking of MagSafe, you must be wondering how long the MacBook Air M2 lasts on a single charge.
I keep the display’s brightness set to 100% at all times. Bearing that in mind, this Mac lasts me around 10 hours or more when using seven Safari tabs nonstop. If I lower the brightness, it can easily last me a few more hours. One thing I really love about MagSafe is its LED indicator. When the MacBook Air is fully charged, a small LED on the charger switches from orange to green. This way, even with the Mac’s lid closed, I can tell when it’s ready to go.
It truly is mind-blowing how Apple manages to squeeze a long battery life in a device as slim and capable. When comparing the M1 performance to that of M2, I would say the only difference I’ve noticed is when it comes to app launch times. Built-in apps now load instantly. The wait time is virtually nonexistent.
MacBook Air M2: How different is it?
For those on Intel MacBooks or Windows laptops, the M2 model offers a fresh breath of air in terms of design and performance. It’s the epitome of craftsmanship in the portable computer field. Usually, a device either sacrifices its build/weight or performance for the sake of the other. The MacBook Air M2 is a blend of the two. You really get the best of both worlds with this $1,199 purchase.
If you’re considering upgrading from a MacBook Air M1, you might want to wait for a bit longer. In terms of performance, the M2 chip isn’t a big bump when compared to the M1 chip. Unless you are struggling with the poor webcam or are dying to get your hands on the MagSafe charger, then this upgrade would mostly be cosmetic. I mean, the trackpad has a gentler haptic feedback to it, too — if you’re hunting for more pros.
The MacBook Air M1 was my companion and favorite device for a long time. However, now that the M2 is here, I can’t but betray my old friend. The 2022 model fills many gaps — most of which I had no idea existed in the 2020 model. Kudos to Apple for finding new ways to complement a flawless product. If the MacBook Air was a cake, the M2 overhaul would be the icing I didn’t know I needed.
Will you be buying the MacBook Air M2? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section below.