Even the presentation by Steve Jobs was legendary. The Apple co-founder casually pulled the ultraportable laptop out of an envelope on stage. But almost a decade and a half ago, lightness was bought with painful compromises: no DVD drive, no socket for an Ethernet cable and only space for a USB plug.
With the new Macbook Air M2, Apple is now saying goodbye to wedge design and putting the latest technology into a super slim and flat aluminum case – and no longer has to make any compromises. Apple has adopted design elements of the new Macbook Pro models: with rounded edges and a recess for the webcam.
Balanced for lap work
The device is 11.3 millimeters thick and weighs 1.24 kilograms. Although this is only 50 grams less than the wedge-shaped predecessor model with an M1 chip. In the practical test, however, the M2 proved to be much better balanced and easier to hold on your lap. The new Macbook Air is available in four colors: in addition to the usual shades of gray and silver, there is now also a light gold tone (“Polarstern”) and a very dark blue (“midnight”).
While the original from 2008 was stingy with external connections, you can now find all the essential sockets on the Macbook Air: on the right side one for the jack plug of a headphone, on the left side two USB-C ports (Thunderbolt, USB 4). In addition, Apple is correcting a wrong decision from 2017 with the Magsafe charging socket. At that time, Apple CEO Jony Ive had summarily abolished the popular magnetic connection on the Macbook Air.
Now users can again rely on the charging plug on the MacBook to come loose if people or pets accidentally pull on the cable. There are several options – and Apple has unfortunately made the selection unnecessarily complicated. The basic version is delivered with a comparatively weak-chested 30-watt power supply. For an additional 20 euros you will either get a charger (35 watts), which has two charging sockets, so that you can also charge an iPhone or iPad on the side.
Many Apple devices benefit from the fast charger
Or you can get a 67-watt power supply with fast charging function. Although this only has a socket, it can charge an empty battery to 50 percent in 28 minutes. For the better model variants of the M2, there is no surcharge of 20 euros. However, the fast-charging power supply is recommended. If you also want to charge an iPhone or iPad on the go, you can connect these devices directly to the Macbook Air – and also benefit from the better charging times of the fast charger.
The display of the Macbook Air M2 measures 13.6 inches diagonally, compared to 13.3 inches in the M1 variant, because the frame has become a little slimmer. However, a black notch now appears on the upper edge of the display, in which the camera and a brightness sensor are located. But you won’t notice it after a few hours.
Compared to the M1, however, the M2 immediately notices the improved brightness of the display, which makes outdoor work easier. In the peak, 500 nits are achieved instead of 400 nits for the M1. However, unlike the new Macbook Pro models, the M2 does not offer HDR and dynamic refresh at up to 120 Hz (“ProMotion”). That’s the difference between a very good and an excellent screen.
Webcam gets Full HD resolution
The upgrade of the webcam was overdue. The camera now offers a resolution of 1080p and replaces the 720p camera of the M1. True, the picture turns out sharper and more natural. But the colors still seem a bit washed out.
The improved integrated audio system of the Macbook Air M2 not only ensures good sound in video conferences, but can also play the sound as 3D surround sound (spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos) in suitable applications such as the TV app. True, this does not sound as lush as through headphones in the style of Airpods Max. But for a laptop, the four speakers sound very good.
The second generation of Apple’s main chips is now working on the board inside the Macbook Air M2. The difference to the previous architecture of Intel is enormous. For example, video editing on an M2 device is up to 15 times faster than on a Macbook Air with an Intel chip. The difference to the M1 is much smaller. The basic model of the Macbook Air M2 is now equipped with eight graphics cores, the more expensive models have ten such cores.
Only the missing fan brakes at some point
In practice, this means that you can not only have 50 or more tabs open in your browser without having to accept performance losses. The M2 is also capable of smoothly processing hours of 4K video. However, with a permanent load such as the export of an elaborate 8K project in Final Cut, you can bring the MacBook Air M2 to its knees a little. Since the device does not require a fan, the system throttles the power down sharply if necessary to prevent overheating.
Conclusion: With the Macbook Air M2, Apple has launched a very successful laptop on the market. The design looks fresh, you no longer miss connections. The screen and the sound are convincing. And a battery life of around twelve hours is enough for even the longest mobile working day.
You only get into a ruminating mood when you look at the price list. The simplest model with 8 gigabytes (GB) of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage starts at just under 1500 euros. The model from our test with twice as large SSD storage tears a hole of almost 1730 euros in the box office for buyers. Fully expanded with 24 GB of RAM, ten graphics cores and a 2 terabyte (2048 GB) SSD disk, almost 3000 euros are due.
However, in order to appeal to buyers with a smaller budget, Apple has left the previous model with M1 chip in the program. This is available from just under 1200 euros upwards. For many users, this will be quite enough, because with the M1 model you benefit from the fundamental advantages of Apple chips. However, the screen of the M2 and the webcam are noticeably better. In addition, the M2 has two USB ports with Thunderbolt and the Magsafe connection.