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MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Which new MacBook should you buy?

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022
(Image credit: Apple)

A MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 13-inch 2022 comparison is just what you need if you're trying to decide which new MacBook to buy this year. Starting at $1,199 and $1,299, respectively, only $100 separates these two laptops. But there are some significant differences you need to know.

The new MacBook Air 2022 has a lot going for it, including the powerful new M2 chip, a sleeker and more colorful design, brighter and bigger display and upgraded webcam. But Apple is keeping the entry-level MacBook Pro 2022 13-inch around for a reason, and it packs the same chip while offering some notable advantages over the Air.

The new MacBook Pro 13-inch was solid enough to land on our best laptop and best MacBook lists and it's reasonable to assume that the MacBook Air will find a spot on there as well. But which is right for you? Here's how the new Air and Pro stack up. 

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Specs compared

MacBook Air 2022MacBook Pro 2022 (13-inch)
Pricefrom $1,199from $1,299
Display13.6 inches (2560 x 1664)13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)
RAM8GB, 16GB, 24GB8GB, 16GB, 24GB
GPU8-core CPU10-core GPU
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Camera1080p 720p
Ports2 Thunderbolt 3/USB 4, heaphone2 Thunderbolt 3/USB 4, heaphone
Battery life (rated)18 hours video / 15 hours web20 hours video / 17 hours web
Dimensions11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches11.97 x 8.36 x 0.6 inches
Weight2.7 pounds3 pounds

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Price

The MacBook Air 2022 represents a significant price increase over the MacBook Air M1, starting at $1,199. The previous M1 Air stays in the lineup at $999. 

Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro 2022 retains its $1,299 price. So these are both premium laptops, but the Pro attempts to justify its premium with a beefier 10-core GPU and longer battery life, plus stronger sustained performance, which we'll get into below. 

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Design

MacBook Air M2 new design

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Air 2022 wins on portability vs the MacBook Pro 2022, and that's because Apple managed to deliver a laptop that's 20% smaller in volume than the previous Air while delivering a solid aluminum design.

The Air measures 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches and weighs 2.7 pounds, compared to 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.6 inches and 3 pounds for the MacBook Pro. So the Air is thinner and lighter while offering a larger display with narrower bezels. 

MacBook Pro M1x benchmarks leak

(Image credit: Future)

Plus, the MacBook Air gives you more color options with Midnight, Starlight, Silver and Space Gray. With the chunkier Pro you're limited to Silver and Space Gray. 

The MacBook Pro is the only one of these two systems to offer a Touch Bar, but I'd rather have the dedicated function row on the Air. 

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Display

MacBook Air 2022 display

(Image credit: Future)

The new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are pretty evenly matched when it comes to their displays. In fact, the Air's panel is slightly larger at 13.6 inches compared to 13.3 inches for the Pro. And the Air gives you a few more pixels to play with at 2560 x 1664 vs 2560 x 1660 for the Pro.

The new MacBook Pro achieved an average of 474.6 nits of standard brightness and 490 nits of HDR brightness in our tests. We've yet to see if the MacBook Air can reach the advertised 500 nits. Both laptops offer wide color (P3) support and True Tone technology. But considering how the Air has a larger screen, it has a small edge here.

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Ports

MacBook Air M2 left side

(Image credit: Future)

There's not much to this category for either laptop. Both the new Air and new Pro pack just two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports for plugging in peripherals, plus a headphone jack for wired headphones.

The only notable difference is that the new Air offers MagSafe charging while the Pro charges via USB-C, so you could make the case that the Air gives you more ports. And that's because the two USB-C ports can remain free while you juice up the system.

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Specs 

MacBook Pro 2022 demo unit photographed at Apple demo event during WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Future)

This is where the MacBook Pro 2022 pulls ahead. While both the new Air and Pro come with Apple's new M2 chip for faster performance, the Pro offers a 10-core GPU as standard. To get that on the Air you have to pay extra.

In addition, the MacBook Pro offers active cooling while the Air has a fanless design. This difference enables the Pro to reach higher levels of performance, such as faster video edits for larger projects. 

The new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro both share one flaw, unfortunately. Both systems are capable of supporting only one external display. So you can connect to multiple monitors at once. 

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Webcam and speakers

MacBook Air 2022 webcam

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Air hits back in this category, as it includes a sharper 1080p camera, compared to a 720p webcam for the MacBook Pro. However, Apple says that the image quality should be improved on the new Pro thanks in part to the M2 chip.

We can't say much about the audio quality yet, but the 2022 Air sports a new four-speaker system that's positioned between the keyboard and the display, complete with Spatial audio and Dolby Atmos support. The stereo speakers on the MacBook pro offers the same capabilities, and they're located to the right and left of the keyboard. 

We'll have to compare the laptops side by side to see which one looks and sounds better. 

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Battery life and charging

MacBook Air 2022 dual charger

(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Pro 2022, with its 58.2 watt-hour battery, lasted 18 hours and 20 minutes in our testing. That makes it the longest-lasting consumer laptop we've ever reviewed. Meanwhile, the new MacBook Air's 52.6 watt-hour battery is designed to get 18 hours of video and 15 hours of wireless web browsing.

Considering how the MacBook Pro is rated to last for 20 hours but falls short of that by two hours, we may see a similar discrepancy between the MacBook Air's rated 18 hours and our test results.

When it comes to charging, the MacBook Air ships with a 30W power adapter, and it costs $20 to upgrade to a dual USB-C charger for juicing two devices at once. Or you can opt for a $20 67W charger that promises to get the Air to 50% in 30 minutes. Alternatively, if you spec the MacBook Air with a more powerful GPU and extra storage, you can choose between the dual charger and the fast charger for free.

The MacBook Pro ships with a 67W charger as standard, but Apple doesn't make any fast charging claims with that system. 

MacBook Air 2022 vs MacBook Pro 2022: Bottom line

The MacBook Air 2022 delivers strong M2 performance, a bigger display than the Pro and a sharper webcam in a slimmer and lighter design. And you can get it for $100 less than the MacBook Pro 2022. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Well, the MacBook Pro 2022 has some things going for it, too, including a larger battery, active cooling for faster performance and a 10-core GPU standard.

For my money, I'd probably rather have the MacBook Air, as it gives you Pro-like performance in a more portable chassis. But I could see some splurging for the Pro to get a little extra oomph and more time away from the outlet. Stay tuned for our full review of both laptops. 

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.