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New MacBook Air 2022 — should you buy or skip?

MacBook Air 2022 pros and cons
(Image credit: Future)

The new MacBook Air 2022 packs some of the biggest changes in years to Apple's iconic laptop. It sports a smaller and lighter design (complete with new colors), a powerful M2 chip, an upgraded display and a number of other welcome upgrades. In fact, the new Air definitely has a shot of making our best laptop list.

At the same time, $1,199 is a lot to ask for a new mainstream laptop, especially these days. Is the new Air really worth the premium or should you opt for one of several really good MacBook Air alternatives

While we wait to perform our testing and full review, here's a quick look at the MacBook Air 2022 pros and cons based on what Apple has announced and our hands-on impressions. 

MacBook Air 2022: reasons to buy

A design that lives up to the Air name

MacBook Air M2 colors

(Image credit: Future)

To say that the MacBook Air design had become staid would be an understatement. It just felt like a watered-down MacBook Pro. But the new model finally injects some excitement into the Air by actually looking and feeling like a laptop that deserves the moniker. 

The new MacBook Air is 20% smaller in volume than the previous model, and it feels remarkably compact and light when you pick it up. It weighs just 2.7 pounds and measures 0.44 inches thick, compared to 2.8 pounds and 0.6 inches for the old Air.

The Air also gives you multiple color options to choose from, including Midnight, Starlight, Space, Gray and Silver. I'm partial to the Midnight blue. 

A MacBook Pro-caliber display

MacBook Air 2022 display

(Image credit: Future)

The new MacBook Air features a larger display than its predecessor at 13.6 inches (versus 13.3 inches), thanks to thinner borders. Plus, Apple has upped the display brightness to 500 nits, so you should expect MacBook Pro-level performance. Yes, there's a notch at the top of the display, but we can live with that trade-off. 

Other highlights include support for 1 billion colors, wide color support (P3) and True Tone. 

M2 chip power

M2 at WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

The MacBook Air 2022 is one of the first laptops to feature Apple's new M2 chip. There's an 8-core CPU with up to 18% faster performance and up to a 10-core GPU that promises 35% faster graphics performance, although the entry-level model features an 8-core GPU.

In real-world terms, the Air promises 40% faster performance when editing complex timelines in Final Cut and 20% faster performance in Photoshop when applying filters.

Sharper 1080p webcam

MacBook Air 2022 webcam

(Image credit: Future)

Taking a cue from the MacBook Pro 14-inch, the MacBook Air 2022 features a 1080p webcam, which is a welcome step up in resolution from the 720p cam on the previous Air. Plus, when you add in the the computational photography capabilities of the M2 chip, you should expect better overall image quality than the MacBook Air M1, especially in low light. 

Long battery life and MagSafe charging on board

The MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch)

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

The MacBook Air has only two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, but the inclusion of a MagSafe charger means you can always have two ports open. With the previous Air, you needed to use one of the USB-C ports to charge, limiting you to one open free port. 

Fortunately, it doesn't look like you'll need to charge that often, as the Air is rated for 18 hours of video playback and 15 hours of wireless web surfing. And, unlike Windows laptop makers, Apple doesn't exaggerate with its claims. 

MacBook Air 2022: reasons to skip 

Pricier than entry-level MacBook Air

MacBook Air M2 new design

(Image credit: Future)

As good as the MacBook Air looks on paper, it's pricey. It starts at $1,199, which is $200 more than the MacBook Air M1. Yes, Apple is keeping the previous Air around as its entry-level model, but this is the most expensive Air yet at a time when the economy is on shaky ground. 

Few ports

MacBook Air 2022 left side

(Image credit: Future)

While the MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch both sport HDMI and SD Card slots, the new MacBook Air includes just two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports on the left side of the system and a headphone jack on the right. That might be enough for some people, but it's still a bit sparse. 

Can't support more than one external display

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher, as I would hope that the M2 chip inside the new MacBook Air could handle multiple external monitors. But, alas, you're limited to just one external monitor on the MacBook Air. Yes, you can always plug in an ultra-wide monitor for our best monitors list to maximize real estate for multitasking, but some simply prefer dual monitors. 

Bottom line

As we've said, we still need to test and review the MacBook Air 2022 to bring you a final verdict. But based on what we've seen so far the new Air has a lot going for it and could wind up delivering a great combination of performance and battery life in a wonderfully compact design.

The only main reservation we have is the price, as $1,200 is steep even with all the upgrades Apple has made to the MacBook Air. We'll keep you posted and promise to bring you our full test results as soon as possible. 

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.