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M2 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Air: is it worth spending $200 more?

By Sanuj Bhatia June 23, 2022, 4:20 pm
M1 MacBook Air vs M2 MacBook Air Source: Pocketnow

At WWDC 2022, Apple announced the new MacBook Air with the second-generation M-series chip. It comes with a lot of upgrades, both design-wise and specs-wise, and has been priced at an attractive price of $1,199. Interestingly, Apple did not discontinue the older generation 2020 MacBook Air with the M1 chip and continues to sell it at $999.

With just a $200 difference between the two models, is spending $1,199 on the new M2 MacBook Air worth it? If you're confused about which one to buy, don't look anywhere else. In this article, we are going to go over how the two affordable MacBook Air models differ from each other by breaking down their hardware specifications and help you make a decision.


Design and Display

For the first time since its introduction, the Apple MacBook Air has received a big redesign. The old wedged design is now gone, and the new MacBook Air looks more modern like the 2021's 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with flat edges and a sleeker design. The M2 MacBook Air is quite thin, boasting a thickness of 11.3mm. It is also (slightly) lighter than the old model, coming in at only 2.7 pounds in comparison to the 2.8 pounds of the M1 MacBook Air.

The M2 MacBook Air also comes in more colors than the 2020 model. While Apple didn't release the iMac-like color variants we were all waiting for, the new M2 MacBook Air is available in four colors, namely Silver, Space Gray, and two new colors replacing the previous gold version — Starlight and Midnight. Starlight is a much softer color of gold while Midnight is nearly the new all-matte-black option for those who wanted even a darker shade of Space Gray.

Moving onto the display, the new M2 MacBook Air features a slightly bigger 13.6-inch display in comparison to the 13.3-inch on the older model. While the overall size of the two laptops is almost the same, the main difference is that the new 2022 Air features much slimmer display bezels than the last generation. Yes, there is a notch up top, just like the 2021 MacBook Pro, and even though you may not like it, it does provide extra screen real estate.

It is also worth noting that the display on the M2 MacBook Air features a peak brightness of 500 nits, which is a 25% gain over the last generation. Thanks to the higher peak brightness, the display should now be more visible outdoors. Both the M1 and the M2 MacBook Air models feature P3 wide color coverage and True Tone support.


Apple M2 vs M1 chip Source: Pocketnow

One of the main differences between the 2020 MacBook Air and the 2022 MacBook Air is the chipset they feature. The new MacBook Air features Apple's all-new second-generation M2 chipset. Apple claims that the second-generation M-series chip is much more powerful and power-efficient than the last generation. While we are yet to test the new chipset in real life, Apple claims that the new M2 chipset offers an 18% increase in CPU performance and up to 35% increase in GPU performance.

The M2 chipset also features 20 billion transistors — an increase of 25% over the M1 — promising better AI and ML performance. There are improvements in regards to RAM and memory bandwidth as well. Overall, the M2 MacBook Air should be able to handle demanding and complex tasks better than the M1. However, we are yet to test the performance of the Apple M2, so stay tuned to Pocketnow's YouTube channel to see how the 2022 MacBook Air performs in real life.

Ports and Connectivity

M2 MacBook Air 2022 Ports Source: Apple

Both the M1 MacBook Air and the M2 model feature two Thunderbolt USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The biggest change here is the return of MagSafe. The new 2022 MacBook Air comes with the new MagSafe 3 port for charging. Apple re-introduced MagSafe 3 with the MacBook Pro series last year, and now it has made its way to the MacBook Air.

There are many benefits of having MagSafe charging. One of the conveniences that MagSafe brings is that you don't have to worry about plugging it into the USB-C port. Instead, the MagSafe connector perfectly aligns itself when brought near the port.

Another benefit of the MagSafe charger is that it snaps off automatically in case of accidental jerks, whereas it can lead to port damage in the case of the M1 MacBook Air, which charges via the USB-C port. MagSafe also enables you to use the extra USB-C port available when you charge your MacBook Air. On the older model, one port would be acquired by the charging adapter, and you will find only one slot available to yourself.

Cameras and Speakers

MacBook Air video calling Source: Apple

While you may not like the notch on the new MacBook Air, it houses a much better 1080p camera than the older model, which comes with only a 720p webcam. The new full HD video camera should make you look better during video calls. While there are upgraded video calling capabilities on the new MacBook Air, the audio output has also been upgraded.

The 2020 M1 MacBook Air features a stereo speaker setup. On the other hand, the new 2022 MacBook Air comes with a four-speaker sound system. The speakers on the M2 MacBook Air also feature support for Spatial Audio, something that the older generation MacBook Air lacks. In addition, the 3.5mm jack audio output on the M2 MacBook Air is also better thanks to the support for high impedance headphones.


Apple M1 MacBook Air review 01

Apple claims that both the 2020 MacBook Air with the M1 chip and the new MacBook Air with the new M2 chip should be able to provide 15 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video playback on a single charge, even though the newer model features a slightly bigger 52.6-watt-hour LiPo battery (the older model features 49.9-watt-hour battery). Nonetheless, both models should provide excellent battery life.

And oh, thanks to the addition of MagSafe, the M2 MacBook Air also gains support for 67W fast charging when used with the appropriate power adapter. Apple claims that the new M2 MacBook Air can charge from 0-50% in 30 minutes — a life-saving feature for those who forget to charge their devices.


MacBook Air 2022 different colors Source: Apple

Apple has upgraded the MacBook Air in every way possible. Be it design, chip, camera, sound, charging, ports, and whatnot; the new MacBook Air offers a lot of improvements over the last generation. But is it worth spending $200 more? Well, this is a question only you can answer. If you want the latest and greatest features, the new M2 MacBook Air is a perfect fit for you. However, there aren't any groundbreaking features that the new MacBook Air comes with, and if you're on a tight budget, the M1 model should get everything done smoothly.

MacBook Air M2 2022

Powered by M2

13.6-inch MacBook Air

The latest MacBook Air is powered by the M2 Apple Silicon, offering even better performance than the M1 series of chips. It has an excellent battery life, and all the performance you need for multitasking, editing, and working on-the-go.

PBI Apple M1 MacBook Air

Powered by M1

13.3-inch Apple MacBook Air

The M1 MacBook Air are some of the most affordable Apple laptops which are excellent for light tasks, and they can even handle some heavy editing and tools when required.

M2 MacBook Air vs M1 MacBook Air: Specs Comparison

CategoryM2 MacBook AirM1 MacBook Air
Display13.6 inches, 2560 x 1664, 500 nits13.3 inches, 2560 x 1600, 400 nits
CPUM2, 8-coreM1, 8-core
GPU8/10 cores7/8 cores
Internal Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
PortsTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, MagSafe, 3.5mm headphone jackTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, No MagSafe
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Dimensions11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches
Weight1.24 kg (2.7 pounds)1.29 kg (2.8 pounds)
ColorsSilver, Space Gray, Starlight, MidnightSilver, Space Gray, Gold
Starting Price$1199$999


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