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Review: Apple MacBook Air 2022 with the M2 chip

With the MacBook Air 2022, Apple is leading its compact 13-inch notebook into a new era. The design has been completely revised and the performance has been increased with the new M2 chip. But the all-around renewal also has its price. Our test report clarifies whether this is justified.

Modern, and Stable

While the wedge-shaped design has been defining “the thinnest notebook in the world” for 14 years, the MacBook Air family is slowly but surely saying goodbye to its infancy this year and growing up. The new linear design is based on the big brothers of the Pro series and looks fresh and modern.

Compared to older Air models, the dimensions remain almost unchanged. The weight even drops from 1.29 kg to just 1.24 kg and at 1.13 cm even the maximum height is below that of the MacBook Air with an M1 chip.

As you would expect from a MacBook, the workmanship is also impeccable on the new model. The aluminum unibody looks like it was made of one piece and we can’t determine any bending or crunching of the case even with rough handling. Another advantage of the new design: Higher feet. In the past, small dirt and sand particles could quickly cause scratches on the underside.

Apple prevents this problem. The only drawback: The color variant “Midnight” as the new dark blue color of the MacBook Air (2022) magically attracts fingerprints and seems to wear out faster in the area of ​​the connections. A cleaning cloth becomes a constant companion. Issues not encountered by models in Polar Star (Gold), Space Gray, and Silver. It’s a pity really because we particularly like the look of the new shade of blue.

Premium input devices and the Return of MagSafe

When it comes to input devices, Apple doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. With the return of the classic scissor mechanism and the introduction of the Force Touch trackpad, MacBook keyboards and touchpads are among the best of their kind – perfect for prolific typists. The rating “first class” also applies to the MacBook Air (2022), which also has an extended area for the fingerprint scanner (Touch ID) and larger function keys. Programmers will be especially happy about the latter.

In addition to the usual two USB 4 ports with support for Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40 Gbit/s) and a 3.5 mm headphone jack, Apple has added an old friend to the new MacBook Air – the MagSafe. The third generation of magnetic power connection offers the advantage that the notebook is not torn off the table if you stumble over the charging cable. Much more important, however, is the new freedom of being able to use both USB-C ports for accessories instead of charging.

It’s just annoying that all important interfaces are placed on the left side of the case. Only the audio port can be found on the right. A better distribution of the connections would have provided more flexibility here. The fact that only one external monitor (max. 6K/60Hz) can be connected spoils the premium picture a bit.

Brighter display, sharper camera, and 3D sound

Compared to its predecessor, the display of the MacBook Air (2022) has grown from 13.3 to 13.6 inches. In the style of the 14 and 16-inch Pro models, the screen frame has been reduced, but instead, a notch that is striking at first glance has been integrated. Similar to the iPhones, it is hardly noticeable after a certain time with the new Air and you get used to its existence. However, many apps can easily hide the notch with dark menu bars – especially in full-screen mode.

The resolution remains almost unchanged at 2560 x 1664 pixels. The same applies to the P3 color space and the ambient light-controlled True Tone technology for automatic white balancing of the “Liquid Retina” display. Apple has increased the brightness from 400 to 500 nits, which is felt positively. Although the screen’s quality, sharpness, and variety of colors convinced us, we had to look for a shady place in the outdoor test due to the reflective surface. Above all, reflections from the sky and clouds make it difficult to read. In such a scenario, the up to 1000 nits of the Pro models with mini-LED technology would have been worth their weight in gold. However, like the 120 Hz panels (ProMotion), they are reserved for the big brothers.

Anyone who relies on a webcam in the home office or on the go can be happy. A 1080p camera is finally used in the MacBook Air (2022), which ensures sharp images in meetings. A small drop of bitterness: Despite the notch, there is no True Depth camera system installed, which provides face recognition (Face ID) in iPhones and iPads as an alternative to Touch ID.

If Apple sticks to the distinctive notch, we’d expect this expansion next year at the latest. The MacBook Air (2022) makes a significant leap forward in terms of its sound. The two stereo speakers that were once positioned to the left and right of the keyboard become a 4-speaker system with 3D audio that fires towards the display. Two tweeters and two woofers each ensure good sound despite the compact housing, especially in films with Dolby Atmos and with music. Of course, the Air does not replace a surround system, but it can be used for sound reinforcement on the go.

Ron Harold

It has been a long time since I joined Research Snipers. Though I have been working as a part-time tech-news writer, it feels good to be part of the team. Besides that, I am building a finance-based blog, working as a freelance content writer/blogger, and a video editor.

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