Just as prophecy foretold, Apple revealed an all-new MacBook Air at this week’s WWDC keynote address. The redesigned Air includes everything the rumor mill said it would, including new M2 silicon, design language from the MacBook Pro, and the return of MagSafe. Apple also introduced a new dark blue color as well. The result is a slightly upgraded Air compared to its M1 predecessor. The price was upgraded too, as the base model now costs $200 more than the baseline M1 model. Notably, Apple will sell both models side-by-side for the foreseeable future.
The redesigned Air looks a lot like a slimmed-down version of the new MacBook Pro. Apple is using the same “slab” design versus the wedge of the previous model. Despite looking chonkier, it’s actually lighter and slimmer. It weighs 2.7lbs, which is 0.1lbs less than its predecessor. It’s also .30cm thinner, and no longer has the bulge at the back the wedge shape dictated. Of course the big news is the all-new M2 SoC, which is physically larger than the M1 chip it replaces. It’s still made on TSMC’s 5nm process though. It has the same eight-core CPU design as M1, which Apple says offers 18 percent more performance at the same wattage as the M1.
The big upgrade with M2 is with the GPU. Whereas the M1 only offered a seven-core GPU, the M2 can be configured with either an eight-core or ten-core GPU. It claims the beefed up GPU offers 25 percent more performance at the same wattage as M1. Despite the increase in power, Apple’s battery life estimates are unchanged at 18 hours for a full charge. It also continues to feature a fanless design, which is one of its most-loved features.
Apple has also increased the amount of available memory by 50 percent and now offers a maximum of 24GB of LPDDR5 RAM, up from 16GB. The M2 offers 50 percent more memory bandwidth than its predecessor, thanks to the shift to LPDDR5. Storage options are unchanged from before, with the maximum being a 2TB PCIe NVME SSD. It is not clear if the Mac is using PCIe 4.0 or not. It includes two USB4/Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack that allows spatial audio with AirPods.
The display has increased in size slightly, going from 13.3″ to 13.6″ for the M2 Air. It runs at 2560 x 1664 resolution and offers Apple’s True Tone technology. It’s also gained increased brightness, going from a maximum of 400 nits to 500 nits. At the top of the display is an improved webcam, too. The 720p version from before has been jettisoned in favor of a 1080p unit. To squeeze that webcam into the display’s housing it made the lid a bit thicker, and also added a notch to the screen. This might annoy some potential upgraders, but people seem to be fine with the notch on the MacBook Pros, despite the notch’s rough launch.
One nice touch is the company is offering color-matched MagSafe cables for the four colors: Midnight, Silver, Starlight, and Space Gray. It notably didn’t offer that with the Space Gray MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air will also allow fast charging with an optional 67W power adapter. This will let people charge it up to 50 percent in 30 minutes. If you go with the base model you’ll get a standard 30W power adapter, but if you upgrade to the more expensive model you’ll get a power brick with two USB-C ports for dual-charging. Apple’s website says the M2-powered Airs will go on sale “next month” at $1,199 for the base model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The upgraded 16GB/512GB model starts at $1,499.
The M2 is expected to be dropped into every Apple computer this year, culminating in the launch of the eagerly-anticipated new Mac Pro. The company’s flagship PC, the Pro, is now the only computer it sells still running on Intel silicon. Thus it’s a good bet that whatever M2-based chip replaces Intel’s Xeon processors will be a beast. We eagerly await its unveiling, possibly at the company’s October hardware event.