Best battery life
There are products and then there are those products that somehow are always a part of the conversation. A lot of Apple products are invariably always a part of the conversation. Take the case of a conversation between friends/acquaintances/colleagues about buying a “good” laptop and the MacBook’s shadow is always looming large over it.“What about the MacBook?” “Should I buy the Air or the Pro?” A large section of buyers out there really don’t need the MacBook Pro. Perhaps that’s why Apple calls the MacBook Air the “world’s best selling” laptop. For a better part of its existence, the MacBook Air has been the object of desire. It’s supremely light, really thin and delivered good performance.
The good performance became great in November 2020 when Apple launched the M1 processor-powered MacBook Air. Back then we said that the MacBook would never be the same again — for all the good reasons. The M1 MacBook Air was a benchmark device — all subsequent laptops invariably got compared to it — and got several shades of Pro in it for the first time. So when introduced the M2 processor — and along with the revamped MacBook Air — there were bound to be enormous expectations. Can the M2 MacBook Air build on the grand success of the M1 Air? Yes, it certainly can. We have been using the M2 MacBook Air as our daily driver for more than a month and confidently say that Apple has got another winner on its hands. Read our review to find out more:
Apple MacBook Air (M2) review: Design, keyboard, ports
Ever since Steve Jobs pulled out the first MacBook Air out of a manilla envelope, the MacBook Air’s design has pretty much remained the same. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? That’s the motto which served Apple and the MacBook Air quite well. But 14 years with a similar design is a really, really long time. That’s why Apple has completely redesigned the M2 MacBook Air — something which may end up dividing opinions. The original MacBook Air was really comfortable and some people may not like the pivot Apple has taken with the design. But rest assured, the MacBook Air still remains one of the most stunning pieces of design to come from Cupertino. One peculiar thing about the M2 MacBook Air is that nowhere on the laptop, it has been mentioned that this is the MacBook Air. With the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple put the MacBook branding on the bottom of the laptop. On the MacBook Air, it has vanished in thin air (no pun intended).
The shell shape of the MacBook Air is now much more uniform. The tapered wedge which was a part of all the previous MacBook Air models is now a thing of the past. Apple has reduced the overall volume and kept uniform height across the device. The M2 MacBook Air weighs 1.24 kg compared to the 1.29 kg on the M1 MacBook Air. If you are into the minute details then the M2 MacBook Pro’s dimensions are 1.13 cm x 30.4cm x 21.5 cm — that is height/width/diameter. Apple says that the overall volume of the M2 MacBook has been reduced by 20% compared to the M1 MacBook Air.
How does it translate in actual usage? This is a laptop that — even after so many years — remains the epitome of portability. It’s really easy to carry around and the exceptional battery performance (more on that later in the review) means that you really never have to carry your charger. The M2 MacBook Air in your backpack doesn’t really add too much weight. Carrying the M1 iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard is certainly a heavier proposition. For that matter, even the M1 iPad Air with the Magic Keyboard feels much heavier than the M2 MacBook Air.
Apple has made subtle changes to the design as well. For instance, the rubberised feet on the underside of the M2 MacBook Air are much better and rest steadily compared to the M1 MacBook Air. There’s more balance to the M2 MacBook Air when it is kept on a surface. On your lap, this remains the best laptop as the fanless design’s impact is really felt as the M2 MacBook Air actually never heats up — something that you can’t say about any other laptop in this segment.
The Magic Keyboard is in absolutely fine form on the M2 MacBook Air. The backlit keys are very well spaced out and typing on the M2 MacBook Air remains a true delight. There isn’t too much real estate on the M2 MacBook Air but still, the whole typing experience is really good. In terms of keys, the Esc key is now slightly bigger and whereas the TouchID key is also much bigger than the one we saw on the M1 MacBook Air.
The port situation on the M2 MacBook Air also gets better with the return of the — much-needed — MagSafe port. Oh, how it was missed! That sweet sound of the magnet snapping on the charging port. Don’t fret over tripping the cable and dragging that precious MacBook along with it. The cable — now comes colour-coded with the MacBook Air — easily snaps off. What the return of the MagSafe port also means is that you now have an extra Thunderbolt/USB-C port. The two USB-C ports still remain on the left side whereas the 3.5mm headphone jack is found on the right side.
The design of the M2 MacBook Air might evoke a few moans and groans who have been accustomed to the much-loved original design of the MacBook Air. The “industrial” design is more in line with the philosophy Apple has adopted across its products. Even with the change in design, the M2 MacBook Air is an über cool-looking laptop that will turn heads for sure. Brands often end up underestimating the importance of detail to the overall impact. That can’t be said about Apple and the new MacBook Air.
Apple M2 MacBook Air review: Display
Notch. Yes, that’s the first thing you would notice about the display on the M2 MacBook Air. For us, since we had seen the notch already on the 14-inch MacBook Pro, so it didn’t really look that weird. When we reviewed that MacBook Pro, we did wonder why the notch and noted that Apple must have thought of a better use case scenario for future MacBook models. That hasn’t happened with the M2 MacBook Air. Perhaps with the next MacBook, we could see more. As of now, why the notch? Frankly, you won’t even notice after a day of using the M2 MacBook Air. The notch does give the M2 MacBook Air more real estate on the display area.
The Liquid Retina display is bigger compared to the M1 MacBook Air as it gets a 13.6-inch screen compared to the 13.3-inch. Apple claims that the M2 MacBook Air is now 25% brighter than the M1 MacBook Air. To the naked eye that really doesn’t mean anything except a nice note added to the M2 MacBook Air’s marketing spec sheet. The display is really vibrant and we spent many hours watching content. The colour reproduction is accurate and the brightness levels are optimum.
The FaceTime webcam is another significant improvement on the M2 MacBook Air. Apple for years — inexplicably one may say — kept the webcam at 720p resolution. However, the M2 MacBook Air features a 1080p webcam and the difference is extremely noticeable. There’s more clarity on FaceTime calls on the M2 MacBook Air. We did a side-by-side comparison of the webcams of the M2 MacBook Air and the M1 MacBook Air. The difference in quality was stark but it’s more a case of better late than never as the improvement was much needed on the MacBook Air.
Apple MacBook Air (M2) review: Performance, battery life
The M2 processor made its debut with the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the M2 MacBook Air. While the M2 MacBook Pro went on sale worldwide before the M2 MacBook Air, we haven’t tested that machine. So this is our first taste of Apple’s latest M-series of processors.
The M2 MacBook Air comes in two configurations. There’s an entry-level variant that comes with an 8-core CPU — four efficiency cores and four performance cores — with an 8-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine. There is the other variant that takes the GPU up to 10-cores. Our review unit had the 8-core GPU, which means there wasn’t any significant upgrade in terms of day-to-day performance compared to the laptop — M1 MacBook Air — we swapped this one for.
Apple claims that on the 10-core GPU, you will see 35% better graphics performance. The Neural Engine is also reportedly 40% faster for certain AI-enabled tasks. Does that make a difference in day-to-day usage? Not really. Let’s be honest you aren’t going to play games on the MacBook. At best if you have an Apple Arcade subscription then you might indulge. If you are a ‘normal’ user of a laptop — writing, making Excel sheets, presentations, social media, YouTube and even watching content — then you won’t really notice a difference between the M1 MacBook Air and the M2 MacBook Air.
If you are upgrading from a Windows PC or even an Intel Mac, then you will notice the difference considerably. But if your point of contention is that you want to choose between the M1 MacBook Air and the M2 MacBook Air, the latter is a really good option. Our review unit had 8GB of RAM, which isn’t the top-end variant. But it also gives us a better idea of how good the M2 MacBook Air is as a lot of price-conscious buyers tend to go for the base variant of the MacBook Air.
Truth be told, the M1 MacBook Air was a near-perfect laptop for almost every user out there. The M2 MacBook Air does improve the performance but it’s not a giant leap. And let’s face it, the M2 processor isn’t the best M-series processor. Those are reserved for the MacBook Pro models but those are targeted at the ‘Pro’ users.
But if you are a slightly heavy user — Photoshop, and video editing is a part of daily work — then you will certainly notice that the M2 processor is quite fast. Use Photoshop on the M2 MacBook Air and the difference in speed is quite obvious.
The M1 MacBook Air had the best battery life — by a distance — that we had come across on a laptop in this segment. Apple continues to astonish us with the M2 MacBook’s battery life as well. We could get anywhere between 15-18 hours of battery life on a full charge on the MacBook Air. Look at that number from any aspect and it’s just a testament to how remarkable the M-series of processors are. The M2 MacBook Air raises the bar when it comes to the battery performance of any laptop.
Apple has upgraded the audio system on the M2 MacBook Air. You now get a four-speaker sound system, which consists of two tweeters and two woofers. There’s also support for Spatial Audio as well as Dolby Atmos. In terms of specs, this is certainly an upgrade from the M1 MacBook Air but in our experience, the difference between the two wasn’t really much. In fact, when it came to vocals in certain genres of music, the M1 MacBook Air actually sounded better.
Apple MacBook Air (M2) review: Verdict
Apple generally discontinues the previous generation of devices when it launches a new one. That, however, has not been the case with the MacBook Air. You can still get the M1 MacBook Air, which remains a truly impressive product — it was launched almost 18 months ago — and cheaper than the M2 MacBook Air. The M2 MacBook Air starts at Rs 1,19,900 and the new design is certainly impressive. The M2 processor asserts Apple’s supremacy in the chipset game as it builds on an already successful processor and makes it better.
The upgrade in terms of performance might not be too obvious but it’s noticeable enough. The all-new design of the M2 MacBook Air will be a bone of contention for many buyers as the old wedge design is still adored by many. Apple’s M2 MacBook Air’s biggest competitor is the M1 MacBook Air. At Rs 99,900, the M1 MacBook Air is still a superb option for most buyers as long as you aren’t in the market for all things new and shiny from Apple.
Having said that, Apple has got another winner on its hands with the M2 MacBook Air. You can buy it and rest assured — barring mishaps and bad ‘luck’ — you are sorted for the next 4-5 years. The Rs 20,000 question here is whether you should buy the M1 MacBook Air or the M2 MacBook Air. You will get a better webcam, an all-new design, a MagSafe charging port, a newer processor and then some with the M2 MacBook Air. Apple has made its best laptop — for most buyers — better and that is always a good thing.
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