The newly announced MacBook Air (M2, 2022) has some big shoes to fill, as its predecessor, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), is so good it’s been at the top of our best laptops list since its launch for two years ago.
However, two years is a long time in laptops, so it’s time to catch up. At WWDC 2022, Apple took the lid off the MacBook Air (M2, 2022), making some big changes, both on the inside with the new M2 chip and on the outside, with a radical redesign.
However, with only the older MacBook Air So Good, is the new model worth buying? What makes the choice even more difficult is that Apple isn’t retiring the M1 MacBook Air, as it usually does with its devices when a new model is released. Instead, it will continue to sell the M1 MacBook Air alongside the M2 model, meaning consumers will be faced with a choice: MacBook Air (M2, 2022) vs. MacBook Air (M1, 2020): Which should you buy?
MacBook Air (M2, 2022) vs. MacBook Air (M1, 2020): Price and Configurations
One of the best things about the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) was its price. It launched at $999 / £999 / AU$1,499 for the base model, which was very good value compared to similar Windows laptops, such as the Dell XPS 13, which were a bit more expensive.
Since then, it has stayed around that price, mainly due to its popularity, but has dropped in price now and then with price cuts on days like Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday. At WWDC 2022, Apple revealed that it will continue to sell the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) at this price.
Which is a shame, as we would have liked to have seen the older MacBook Air get an official price cut. It also dashes the hopes of anyone expecting the new MacBook Air M2 to launch at the same price as the M1. While Apple has done this in the past, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) starts at a higher price of $1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,899. That’s quite a jump, especially in the UK and Australia.
This means that the M2 MacBook Air doesn’t feel as good a value as the M1 model, since it ventures into MacBook Pro territory.
If value for money is the most important consideration, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) remains unbeatable.
However, the M2 model comes with performance upgrades and can be configured to hold up to 24GB of unified memory, which means it’s more future-proof, and you won’t feel the need to upgrade it for a while. In the long run, it can save you money.
MacBook Air (M2, 2022) vs. MacBook Air (M1, 2020): Design
When the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) was introduced, Apple kept the biggest changes to the inside of the device, which means its design is largely unchanged from previous MacBook Airs.
While that was fine – the design was iconic for a reason, laptop design has come a long way lately, so this one is starting to look dated.
The good news is that the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) comes with a major redesign. It is no longer wedge-shaped, with a thicker back that tapers into a slender front. Instead, it now has a more square design that takes elements of the MacBook Pro and iPhone redesigns.
We also get four color options: Space Gray, Silver, Starlight, and Midnight Blue. Apple also claims that the 2022 MacBook Air has a footprint that’s 20% smaller than the previous MacBook Air, measuring 11mm thick and weighing just 2.7 pounds.
Therefore, it is much easier to carry. The bezels around the screen have been slimmed down, and not only does this make the new MacBook Air look more modern than the old model, it means the screen is now larger, at 13.6 inches, compared to 13.3 inches. screen from the previous model. The resolution has also been bumped up from 2560 x 1600 to 2560 x 1664. This means the larger screen doesn’t lose sharpness, although the older MacBook Air has a slightly higher pixel density.
However, the older model’s MacBook Air (M2, 2022) display blows water with support for a billion colors, several times more than the “millions” supported in the older MacBook Air, and a higher brightness of 500 nits, compared to 400 nits for the MacBook Air’s display ( M1, 2020). This makes the screen sharper and sharper and is a definite improvement over the older MacBook Air.
When it comes to design, the new MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is the clear winner, with a more modern look and a lighter, lighter weight than the M1, while also offering a larger and brighter display.
MacBook Air (M2, 2022) vs. MacBook Air (M1, 2020): Performance
We haven’t had a chance to properly test the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) yet, so we can only follow the specs and claims made by Apple. On paper, it looks excellent, with the M2-powered laptop offering an 18% faster CPU, a 35% faster GPU (now with 10 cores), and a 40% faster Neural Engine, all while using a similar amount of memory. power, so a jump in performance won’t have a cost to battery life.
Thanks to the M2 chip, the new MacBook Air will benefit from up to 50% faster memory bandwidth and up to 24GB of unified memory. The MacBook Air with the M1 maxes out at 16GB. This extra memory can make a huge difference for people who want to do some heavy graphics editing and multitasking.
The webcam has also been boosted from 720p to 1080p with the MacBook Air (M2, 2022). In addition, the M2 chip improves image quality and low-light performance.
However, the more robust webcam and thinner bezels mean there is a visible “notch” surrounding the webcam, and dropping down to the menu bar. This is the same notch found on the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) and MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), and when it debuted with the MacBooks, it proved divisive.
Overall, while we’ll reserve judgment until we get to the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) for review, where we’ll really put it through its paces, it looks like it’ll offer a significant improvement over the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which isn’t any slouch in the performance stakes.
MacBook Air (M2, 2022) vs. MacBook Air (M1, 2020): Which is Right for You?
Choosing between the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) and the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is very difficult, and it’s a testament to just how good the older laptop is.
If you want a modern experience and upgraded performance, the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is the way to go. The new design is great, more portable, and the screen is a huge step forward. The M2 could also be a big upgrade.
However, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is a lot cheaper, which makes it incredibly tempting. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a laptop, the older model is the one to go for, as it offers excellent value for money, while also being a great performer. We hope to see some decent price drops for the M1 MacBook Air in the future as well.