Gadget

MacBook Air initial review

CUPERTINO, USA (Pocket-lint) – From the very first moment Steve Jobs pulled the MacBook Air from a manilla envelope, the laptop has been preferred by Apple as the device to showcase the next steps in the evolution of the Mac.

So, can the MacBook Air 2022 pull off the feat once again and create a laptop that pushes what we’ve come to expect from the company?

Following the reveal at Apple’s WWDC 2022 keynote, Pocket-lint was on-site at Apple Park in Cupertino to check out the new model to see for ourselves.

Our quick take

As a design object, the MacBook Air ticks all the boxes: It’s light, very light, features a strong and robust-looking design, and certainly brings the Air up to the same design ethos and approach as the MacBook Pro launched in 2021 – which we liked.

Like the iPad Air, the MacBook Air now lives up to the name.

In terms of power, again there are plenty of advances here that we’ve yet to fully check out but so far look promising, and that 18-hour-battery-life promise again brings the Air up to what the Air used to deliver.

Our first impressions are incredibly promising. It might not have that blow away feeling that the first model had all those years ago, but this certainly fills that entry-level space for the Mac and creates a device that we suspect will be a strong seller and very popular with Mac users looking to be a part of the Mac story without having to go pro.

The Mac for beginners is back.

MacBook Air initial review: All-new design with Pro power

For

  • Light
  • Thin
  • Powerful
  • Long battery life
Against

  • Notch display design won’t be to everyone’s liking
  • Speaker performance could be questionable

Design

  • 13.6-inch display with 500 nits
  • Two USB-C ports, MagSafe, 3.5mm headphone jack

As far as the MacBook Air goes, the biggest visual change is a completely new design.

Now more akin to the MacBook Pro that released in 2021, the new model strips out a number of “pro” features to create a device that is both thin and light but still manages to be robust and feel strong in the hand.

Pocket-lintMacBook Air initial review photo 1

Up close and personal, that previous wedged design, which has been with us for near on a decade, has been ditched in favour of a flat design that is more akin to the iPad Pro and, of course, the MacBook Pro before it. That means you get four protruding circular feet, no fans, fewer ports, and, for the Liquid Retina display, a notch to house the new 1080p camera.

There are two USB-C ports and a MagSafe fast charge connector down the left side and a 3.5mm jack on the right. The 3.5mm jack only just fits in the space available, giving you a notion about the thinness of this device.

That “thinness” does mean sacrifices have to be made, though; there’s no SD card slot, for example, nor an HDMI port as found on the MacBook Pro. But we suspect that, for many, especially your average MacBook Air user, these are unlikely to be missed. While it means the new MacBook Air has also lost the speaker grilles on the sides of the keyboard, there are two hidden speakers between the top of the keyboard, and the screen takes advantage of the hinge space.

Pocket-lintMacBook Air initial review photo 3

We couldn’t fully test the capability of the speakers at the noisy event, but Apple says it should be good enough to enjoy a movie, for example, especially considering the device supports the company’s Spatial Audio technology.

The compact form factor hasn’t affected the screen size, though – mainly thanks to a design change that reduces the bezels on all sides of the display, opting for a notch that houses the 1080p camera for video calls.

Pocket-lintMacBook Air initial review photo 13

It will be available in four colours, including a new Midnight, which has a slight blue hint to it. That’s the colour to get if you are looking for something beyond the usual Space Grey, Silver, or Starlight. Rose Gold fans will be disappointed that colour option has been left to the history books.

M2 and Performance

  • M2 and M1 processor options

While the new design is likely to be the driving factor in new sales and upgrades, it’s not the only thing the new MacBook Air has going for it. It’s the first Mac to get the company’s new M2 processor.

Promising to be 18 per cent faster than the M1 powered MacBook Air and offer 35 per cent faster graphics, this should be a proper powerhouse for MacBook Air users looking to do most things without the need to go for all those Pro features.

Pocket-lintMacBook Air initial review photo 10

At the preview event, we were able to fire up a couple of games, see some video editing in progress, and check out some image editing in action.

We couldn’t fully test the new machine and the new M2 processor, but having used the 2020 M1 version, which will also come as a processor option for the 2022 model, we don’t expect users to have to worry it can’t deliver it’s promised performance or live up to the claimed 18-hour battery life. We look forward to giving the new model a run for its money in our full review and will update our findings when we can

To recap

As a design object, the MacBook Air ticks all the boxes: It’s light, very light, features a strong and robust-looking design, and certainly brings the Air up to the same design ethos and approach as the MacBook Pro launched in 2021.

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Writing by Stuart Miles.


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