Hands-on with Apple's M2 MacBook Air in Starlight

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited July 16
We've got our hands on the new 2022 MacBook Air with the M2 processor. Here are our early impressions.

2022 M2 MacBook Air
2022 M2 MacBook Air


The redesign of the MacBook Air feels more notable in hand compared to the MacBook Pro. The Pro went from slightly covered edges to slightly squared edges. Not a huge departure.

With the MacBook Air, the machine went from a tapered wedge to a smaller version of the MacBook Pro. In use, we like it. We like it a lot. It feels easier to hold and incredible to see how thin the overall machine is.



The new MacBook Air is both thicker and thinner than the past generation. At its thickest, the last-generation machine measured 1.61cm and .41cm at its thinnest. The updated model is 1.31cm across the entire machine.

The new MacBook Air gets MagSafe
The new MacBook Air gets MagSafe


So even though half of the machine is thicker than it was before, it's thinner in the back which gives the illusion that the whole thing is smaller. At the same time, Apple made it lighter by .1 pound. It isn't noticeably lighter in use and we can barely tell the difference side-by-side, but we'll take any savings we can.

Little touches

One would think that Apple would grace the MacBook Pro, its high-end machine with all the extra bells and whistles. Yet, it is somehow often the mass-market models that get these things.

Starlight Apple stickers
Starlight Apple stickers


With the 24-inch iMac Apple included color-matched stickers to go along with the fun color of the desktop computer. Apple has done the same with the MacBook Air. Our Starlight version came with Starlight stickers and our Midnight version has Midnight-colored stickers.

The included Starlight MagSafe versus a silver one
The included Starlight MagSafe versus a silver one


Apple even matches the power cable. Apple has always done white cables for its portables but not this time. The Midnight MagSafe 3 cable is particularly nice looking.

New larger function keys
New larger function keys


The function keys on the new Air are also double the size they were before. With the half-sized keys before, we always found ourselves always overshooting the buttons. Now that they are larger, we land dead-center each time we go to adjust the volume or authenticate via Touch ID.

Early impressions

Going from the last-generation MacBook Air and the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro, the M2 MacBook Air doesn't appear thus far to be much slower or faster. It seems on-par with the other machines in your typical daily tasks. of course, this is before running any in-depth benchmarks.

The new FaceTime camera
The new FaceTime camera


Further testing will certainly be needed. We can see a big difference though in the image quality of the new 1080P FaceTime camera compared to the last-generation model, however. It isn't amazing and using Continuity Camera will still provide better results, but that 720P camera was awful.

We'll continue testing the new M2 MacBook Air and comparing it to Apple's other portables in the coming days. Stay tuned to AppleInsider.

Where to buy

Apple's M2 MacBook Air starts at $1,199 and is available to purchase from the resellers below. You can also compare prices and check for M2 MacBook Air deals in our M2 MacBook Air Price Guide. Alternatively, you can save up to $300 on Apple's 14-inch MacBook Pro with exclusive savings, plus discounts on AppleCare. The latest deals are at your fingertips in our 14-inch MacBook Pro Price Guide.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    thttht Posts: 4,492member
    My iPP10.5 and eyes needs to be color calibrated as the pictures look like silver to me! A different shade of silver, but silver nonetheless. There's not much hue of gold or cream or yellow in the finish in the images.

    Request: Please have comparison photos with other machines. Stacking them on top of each other is nice, but it would be nice if you included side-by-side on a table so heights can be more easily seen.
    DAalsethScot1dewmewatto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 2 of 15
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,219member
    tht said:
    My iPP10.5 and eyes needs to be color calibrated as the pictures look like silver to me! A different shade of silver, but silver nonetheless. There's not much hue of gold or cream or yellow in the finish in the images.

    Request: Please have comparison photos with other machines. Stacking them on top of each other is nice, but it would be nice if you included side-by-side on a table so heights can be more easily seen.
    It did look silver to me but when the old silver plug was shown, the relative perception of new MacBook has shifted to starlight hue. 

    When I set the downloaded images to ML Auto Enhance in Pixelmator Pro, it literally showed the right Starlight hue so it's definitely the photos not being white-balanced correctly. So, it's not your monitor that is the problem. 


    edited July 15 watto_cobrasmack416
    gold.jpg 129.7K
  • Reply 3 of 15
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,893member
    I played with one for a few minutes at an Apple Store today. Nothing remarkable but then again I didn't fire up a video editor or do anything that would push the device. It was parked between an M1 MacBook Air and the M2 MacBook Pro 13" neither of which I touched.

    All the chassis colors were displayed but nothing really stood out, it was all very Apple-like.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    Can it handle multiple hour zoom calls without thermal throttling?  That’s my only question. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 15
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,008member
    Can it handle multiple hour zoom calls without thermal throttling?  That’s my only question. 
    Shouldn’t be a problem because it’s not doing much other that accessing the internet. Thermal throttling happens when the CPU, GPU and storage are being constantly accessed. Zoom doesn’t do that. 

    update: Here's what Zoom uses just to start up. Not much.


    edited July 16 headfull0winewatto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 6 of 15
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,219member
    rob53 said:
    Can it handle multiple hour zoom calls without thermal throttling?  That’s my only question. 
    Shouldn’t be a problem because it’s not doing much other that accessing the internet. Thermal throttling happens when the CPU, GPU and storage are being constantly accessed. Zoom doesn’t do that. 

    update: Here's what Zoom uses just to start up. Not much.


    What app is that? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 387member
    Also saw one at the Apple Store today. Photos or discussion really don't do it justice.

    It's only when you pick it up and hold it in your hand that you realize, yes, it's thin, and yes, it's light.

    A little pricey, but for many people it would be the perfect school/on the go machine. Especially since it has the battery life to last all day at work or school without needing a charger. 
    watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 8 of 15
    timmilleatimmillea Posts: 124member
    "Apple made it lighter by .1 pound."

    To how many degrees of precision is this or is it just taking Apple's promotional garb? Let's see the actual weights in grams, as measured on precision scales to the nearest 0.1g. 

    Apple's claim of 20% less volume also looks highly dubious, given the actual published measurements. I don't believe it. 
    Perhaps Apple have a different concept of volume to the rest of the World? The claim is provably incorrect. 

    I do wish that any site with any journalistic intention would actually verify these claims instead of parroting the manufacturer's publicity material. 
  • Reply 9 of 15
    netrox said:
    rob53 said:
    Can it handle multiple hour zoom calls without thermal throttling?  That’s my only question. 
    Shouldn’t be a problem because it’s not doing much other that accessing the internet. Thermal throttling happens when the CPU, GPU and storage are being constantly accessed. Zoom doesn’t do that. 

    update: Here's what Zoom uses just to start up. Not much.


    What app is that? 
    iStat Menus https://bjango.com/mac/istatmenus/
    watto_cobraAlex1N
  • Reply 10 of 15
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,353member
    timmillea said:
    "Apple made it lighter by .1 pound."

    To how many degrees of precision is this or is it just taking Apple's promotional garb? Let's see the actual weights in grams, as measured on precision scales to the nearest 0.1g. 

    Apple's claim of 20% less volume also looks highly dubious, given the actual published measurements. I don't believe it. Perhaps Apple have a different concept of volume to the rest of the World? The claim is provably incorrect. 

    I do wish that any site with any journalistic intention would actually verify these claims instead of parroting the manufacturer's publicity material. 
    Good luck measuring the volume of the very curvy M1 MacBook Air.

    Does the nearest 0.1 g really matter when Apple are claiming a 50g difference?


    Ofer
  • Reply 11 of 15
    crowley said:
    timmillea said:
    "Apple made it lighter by .1 pound."

    To how many degrees of precision is this or is it just taking Apple's promotional garb? Let's see the actual weights in grams, as measured on precision scales to the nearest 0.1g. 

    Apple's claim of 20% less volume also looks highly dubious, given the actual published measurements. I don't believe it. Perhaps Apple have a different concept of volume to the rest of the World? The claim is provably incorrect. 

    I do wish that any site with any journalistic intention would actually verify these claims instead of parroting the manufacturer's publicity material. 
    Good luck measuring the volume of the very curvy M1 MacBook Air.

    Does the nearest 0.1 g really matter when Apple are claiming a 50g difference?


    https://www.wikihow.com/Calculate-the-Volume-of-an-Irregular-Object
  • Reply 12 of 15
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,353member
    crowley said:
    timmillea said:
    "Apple made it lighter by .1 pound."

    To how many degrees of precision is this or is it just taking Apple's promotional garb? Let's see the actual weights in grams, as measured on precision scales to the nearest 0.1g. 

    Apple's claim of 20% less volume also looks highly dubious, given the actual published measurements. I don't believe it. Perhaps Apple have a different concept of volume to the rest of the World? The claim is provably incorrect. 

    I do wish that any site with any journalistic intention would actually verify these claims instead of parroting the manufacturer's publicity material. 
    Good luck measuring the volume of the very curvy M1 MacBook Air.

    Does the nearest 0.1 g really matter when Apple are claiming a 50g difference?
    https://www.wikihow.com/Calculate-the-Volume-of-an-Irregular-Object
    Rather your MacBook Air being submerged in liquid than mine.  I didn't say it wasn't possible, I said good luck.
    Ofer
  • Reply 13 of 15
    thttht Posts: 4,492member
    timmillea said:
    Apple's claim of 20% less volume also looks highly dubious, given the actual published measurements. I don't believe it. Perhaps Apple have a different concept of volume to the rest of the World? The claim is provably incorrect. 

    I do wish that any site with any journalistic intention would actually verify these claims instead of parroting the manufacturer's publicity material. 
    I do agree with you that reviewers should actually measure the dimensions and weight of the products they review, as OEMs often game these numbers. It's also one of those things that most people would be really bored by, so, it won't be done unless there is a controversy about it.

    For 2008 to 2020 MBA, the thinnest advertised dimension of the wedge shape, the ~4 mm, is just the very front face of the machine when closed. It then tapers out to about 12 mm or so over the next 50 mm or so, than a slow taper to the max thickness of 16 mm. So you really should not compute volume base on a prism with a base of 16 x 4 mm. It's really a prism with a base of 16 x 12 mm or so. The tapering doesn't really remove that much volume.

    The 2022 MBA has a uniform thickness of 11.3 mm. So, it's really about as thin as the thinnest "real" portion of the older MBA. As has been said many times, the tapering from the edges, especially the flat face, then the taper, create a visual illusion that the older MBA model is a really thin device. The original 2008 to 2009 MBA models went even further. It was 19 mm at it thickest point, and didn't have the cutoff flat sides seen in the 2010 to 2020 models. It just tapered to about 4 mm all around the sides.

    The 2012 to 2020 MBP models also employed tapering. They just had a thicker flat side, about 9 mm or so instead of 4 mm. They were 16 mm devices, but the flat side plus the taper created an illusion of them being thinner than they were. The 2013 to 2020 iMacs were the same.

    This is why Evans Hankey says the 2021 MBP and 2022 MBA models are more "honest" designs. Since they don't have a taper, just a round on the bottom edge, they appear thicker than they are. The MBP is about as thin as the older models even they people think they are thicker. And you think the 2022 MBA can't be thinner than the prior MBA.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 15
    indiekidukindiekiduk Posts: 369member
    I thought I was using the silver in the store until someone told me it was starlight, then we got a silver 14" MBP to compare and under the store lights there is hardly any difference. Making the starlight colour doesn't seem worth the hassle.
    edited July 20
  • Reply 15 of 15
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 320member
    netrox said:
    tht said:
    My iPP10.5 and eyes needs to be color calibrated as the pictures look like silver to me! A different shade of silver, but silver nonetheless. There's not much hue of gold or cream or yellow in the finish in the images.

    Request: Please have comparison photos with other machines. Stacking them on top of each other is nice, but it would be nice if you included side-by-side on a table so heights can be more easily seen.
    It did look silver to me but when the old silver plug was shown, the relative perception of new MacBook has shifted to starlight hue. 

    When I set the downloaded images to ML Auto Enhance in Pixelmator Pro, it literally showed the right Starlight hue so it's definitely the photos not being white-balanced correctly. So, it's not your monitor that is the problem. 


    The color of starlight is most accurately described as a warm silver--very different from the actual silver color, which is quite cold. Starlight can also appear to be a warm white in certain light. 
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