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MacBook Air 2022 — 5 biggest rumored upgrades

MacBook Air 2022 renders
(Image credit: Jon Prosser / RendersByIan)

The MacBook Air 2022 is tipped to launch this year, and it has a tough act to follow. The current MacBook Air M1 delivers great performance along with super long battery life. However, the design looks dated compared to the competition, and it could use a refresh given that the current MacBook Air will be two years old this fall. 

A mix of claimed leaks and rumors have been circulating over the past several months suggesting that Apple is indeed working on a successor to what’s now its entry-level MacBook. And it's tipped to include an en even faster M2 chip along with a full redesign. Here's the five biggest upgrades we've heard about for the MacBook Air 2022. 

MacBook Air 2022: New design  

MacBook Air 2022 render

(Image credit: LeaksApplePro)

The most prevalent rumor is the MacBook Air 2022 will have a new design, which has been previewed in these new MacBook Air 2022 renders. And it's about time. While the MacBook Air M1 had a brand new and exciting chipset, its design was arguably a little long in the tooth, keeping with the look of the 2018 MacBook Air. This has started to look old in comparison to the likes of the Dell XPS 13 Plus

So the rumors have been touting a new design — one that could maintain the slim wedge shape of the current Air but evolve it with more rounded edges, slimmer screen bezels and potentially even a display notch, as seen in the current MacBook Pro 2021 models, although that latter claim has been refuted by other leaks

An improved keyboard and a suite of Thunderbolt 4 ports are also tipped. We would love to see an SD card reader, but that could remain the domain of the MacBook Pro laptops. 

MacBook Air 2022: Apple M2 chip  

Apple M2 chip

(Image credit: Apple)

The second biggest part of the MacBook Air 2021 is tipped to be the Apple M2 chip. Rather than follow in the footsteps of the Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max silicon, the M2 will favour efficiency over raw power. 

Supposedly set to use a 4-nanometer fabrication node, rather than the 5nm process its predecessor uses, we can expect more performance and better efficiency from the M2, thanks to an increase in transistors on the slice of silicon.

One leak has the the M2 offering 12 CPU cores, which would be four more than the octa-core M1. And the GPU has been rumored to get a jump from seven and eight cores to a healthy 16 cores. It’s unknown how legitimate this leak is, as these numbers would give the M2 specs similar to the M1 Pro and M1 Max, though performance isn’t totally dependent on just the number of cores. 

Meanwhile Mark Gurman claim the chip will come with an 8-core CPU, complete with four efficiency and high-performance cores. He also claims that the chip is being tested ahead of the March 8 Apple Event, where it may make an appearance.

But no matter which way things go, expect the M2 chip to be a notable upgrade over the initial M1, even if that translates to an even better battery life for the MacBook Air 2022 over its predecessor.  

MacBook Air 2022: MagSafe charging 

MacBook Air 2022 renders

(Image credit: Jon Prosser / RendersByIan)

Following on from the reintroduction of MagSafe to the MacBook Pros, the MacBook Air 2022 is expected to also get magnetic charging system charging. 

It’s very likely to be the same as the MagSafe system in the Pro machines, which may not sound that exciting. But that offers an upgrade that trounces USB-C charging on the MacBook Air M1. 

Not only would you not lose out on a USB-C ports, which are constrained to two on the current MacBook Air, you also get a charging system whereby if you trip on the cable it neatly detaches from the laptop rather than yank it to the floor or into a hard surface along with the cable. 

MacBook Air 2022: Mini-LED display  

MacBook Air 2022 renders

(Image credit: Jon Prosser / RendersByIan)

One of the best features of the new MacBook Pro models is their mini-LED display. This type of screen uses a mass of small LEDs as the backlight for the display, offering buckets of brightness but without the potential shortcomings of an OLED panel. 

As such, a mini-LED display has been rumored to come over to the MacBook Air 2022. The current MacBook Air has a fine screen but it’s using an LCD panel, which feels distinctly un-2022 — something Apple might want to address if it’s going to redesign the MacBook Air. 

Mini-LED screens aren't cheap, which could boost the price of the next MacBook Air over its $999 predecessor, but it would also give the laptop a screen that few of its Windows rivals have. 

Combine this with the aforementioned slim bezels, and the MacBook Air could have a truly excellent screen, making it a very appealing ultraportable laptop. 

MacBook Air 2022: More colors  

MacBook Air 2022 concept

(Image credit: Devam Jangra)

It may not be the most headline-grabbing rumor, but the notion that the MacBook Air could come in more colors may easily be the most eye-catching thing we've heard about Apple's laptop plans. The current MacBook Air comes in Space Gray, Silver, and Gold — all fine colors but nothing out of the ordinary from Apple. 

The MacBook Air 2022 on the other hand is tipped to come in the likes of white, blue, lilac, orange and red, seemingly following in the pastel colors the iMac 2021 has. It would certainly help the laptop stand out from its predecessor and mark it apart from the MacBook Pro line. 

MacBook Air 2022: Outlook

MacBook Air 2022 rumors are still relatively thin on the ground at this point in the year, which may suggest the new laptop is more likely to arrive this fall than in the spring. In the meantime, we’d not be surprised if more next-gen MacBook Air information bubbles up as the year moves on. 

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.