Hands on with Apple’s new MacBook Air M2

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Whenever Apple launches a new MacBook Air, it’s a big deal. Apple’s light, slim model is one of the world’s best selling laptops and is traditionally the most affordable option for those who want a portable Mac.

nnounced at the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference, the new 13-inch MacBook Air M2 is notable for a couple of reasons, though not all of them will be welcome.

The good stuff includes Apple’s new ultra-powerful, battery-friendly M2 chip under the hood. This gives the MacBook Air the ability to do ludicrously intense things, such as play multiple 8K and 4K video streams simultaneously. And the extra battery life achievable using Apple’s own silicon chips is one of the genuine breakthroughs of recent years in laptop technology. Like the M1 model before it, you can expect to get anything up to 18 hours or so from a single charge, an astonishing feat.

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Apple’s MacBook Air M2. Photo: Adrian Weckler

The second headline change is the physical redesign, which retires the MacBook Air’s iconic ‘wedge’ shape in favour of the squarer look that the current crop of MacBook Pros have. People may have mixed feelings about this. While it makes the MacBook Air look a little more contemporary, that wedge design will forever be associated with good things. Holding the new model in my hands, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad to be saying goodbye to the original template. That said, the new Air M2 is (very) slightly lighter than its M1 predecessor is 20pc smaller in overall volume, despite having a slightly larger screen (13.6 inches versus 13.3 inches).

The new ‘Liquid Retina’ display on the M2 Air is brighter and a little higher resolution than its predecessor, while there’s a modest jump in the webcam quality, too, to 1080p (compared to the mediocre 720p on the previous model).

Magsafe charging makes a comeback here, although you can still charge the MacBook Air through either of its two USB-ports, too. The only other port is a headphone jack.

For those who feel they need some serious muscle power, the new M2 Air can take up to 24GB of Ram, compared to the limit of 16GB on the M1 machine. It can also be configured up to a 10-core GPU, rather than the 7-core GPU of the M1.

Touch ID button is also on board.

But it’s not all good news. The new Macbook Air M2 model is a whopping €300 more than the (still available) M1 model. That’s really more of a price for a MacBook Pro. Indeed, the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro model, with Apple’s new M2 chip, is only €100 more.

What’s more worrying is the serious gap that has opened up in pricing between Ireland (or the EU) and the US. While the new MacBook Air M2 model costs €1,529 here, it’s between €1,130 and €1,230 in the US, depending on which state’s sales tax you apple. That’s a massive gulf of the kind that used to bedevil tech pricing a decade ago. (It costs €1,475 in the UK, much closer to the EU price.) This is the first Apple laptop in a while that might make more sense to buy in the US because of the pricing structure.

That said, this should still be an attractive option for those looking for a very light, powerful laptop.



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