On Monday, Apple held the keynote address for WWDC22. The company’s annual World Wide Developer Conference is focused on software. That meant a showcase of all the new features to expect in iOS 16, macOS 13 Ventura, and Apple’s other operating systems. Here’s to the forthcoming ability to edit and unsend in iMessage! Apple also took the opportunity to unveil some new hardware, including the powerful new M2 processor and the hotly anticipated, all-new MacBook Air. This is the biggest redesign to the company’s most popular laptop in over a decade. The M2 also made its way into an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s new M2-powered laptops.
Apple began switching Macs to its own custom processors in 2020, with the M1 (you can read about that here). Last April, the company announced a new iMac and iPad Pro with M1 processors. That fall, the M1 series expanded with the M1 Pro and M1 Max. In March, we saw the M1 Ultra.
On June 6, Apple unveiled the M2 processor. This is the next generation of Apple’s custom silicon. It gets faster performance cores, up to 10 GPU cores (two more than the M1), and the 5nm technology puts 20 billion transistors on the chip (up by 25% compared to the M1). Maximum unified RAM support increases from 16GB to 24GB.
Compared to the original M1, Apple says the M2 has an 18% faster CPU, 35% more powerful GPU, 40% faster Neural Engine, and 50% more memory bandwidth.
What does this mean in real life? An M2-powered Mac will be able to take on more complex tasks thanks to the RAM improvements and it will be significantly faster. In the case of the M2 MacBook Air, Apple says it is up to 1.4 times faster than the M1 MacBook Air and up to 15 times faster than the last Intel-powered model.
M2 MacBook Air
I just gave away the performance increase you can expect with the M2 MacBook Air, but that is just part of the story.
Apple’s super-compact portable got a completely new design, its first in more than 10 years. Gone is the iconic tapered wedge shape. Instead, the all-aluminum case is now thin and completely flat, measuring a uniform 11.3 mm in thickness. It tips the scales at just 1.22 kg (2.7 pounds). And it now comes in four case colours: silver, space grey, starlight, and midnight. The midnight colour in particular is a new look, almost a cross between navy blue and black (depending on the light). The keyboard remains black with white lettering.
Ports are bumped up to a pair of USB-C (Thunderbolt 3/USB 4) ports, and a 3.5mm high impedance headphone jack. That jack means this laptop is capable of driving wired headphones at high volumes, something that typical 3.5mm audio jacks often struggle with. Wireless connectivity is Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6.
The full-sized, backlit Magic Keyboard includes a full function row and TouchID support, with a Force Touch trackpad. Storage starts at a 256GB SSD and tops out at 2TB. The all-new M2 MacBook Air still uses a fanless design and it offers up to 18 hours of battery life. It also features fast-charging for a 50% battery charge in just 30 minutes.
Speaking of battery, the M2 MacBook Air gets a dedicated MagSafe charge port. If the cable is accidentally yanked, it safely detaches instead of pulling the laptop off the desktop. The cable colour matches the colour of the laptop. Some models of the the new MacBook Air also get a new 35W charger that includes dual USB-C ports so you can charge the laptop and another device simultaneously.
The 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display supports one billion colours and at 500 nits is 25% brighter than the previous model. It includes P3 wide colour support, True Tone, HDR with Dolby Vision, and HDR 10. The display is complemented by a four-speaker sound system that supports Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos audio. Use video output and this little laptop can drive a 6K display at 60Hz.
Anyone who is working remotely will appreciate the fact that the M2 MacBook Air is now equipped with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera. With that new camera, the quad speakers, and a three-mic array with directional beamforming, the M2 MacBook Air may just be the ultimate work-from-home laptop.
Apple is not discontinuing the M1 MacBook Air. It is still a very compelling laptop and it will remain as the most affordable option in the MacBook lineup.
New 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is the entry level offering in Apple’s prosumer laptop lineup. I bought the M1 version back in 2020 and it has been an incredibly capable machine—I’ve yet to have its fan start up, despite pushing it with video encoding and having gazillions of windows open. I’ve really tried, but it just keeps working away and never seems to get hot.
On Monday, Apple announced that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is getting an upgrade to the M2 processor. This means a significant performance boost and the option of up to 24GB of RAM. Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours. Other specs and the overall design remain unchanged. That includes sticking with the existing 720p FaceTime HD webcam, USB-C charging, and the Touch Bar.
When Can I buy the new M2-powered MacBooks?
It’s no secret that the supply chain has continued to face challenges, including lengthy Covid-related factory shutdowns in China. As a result, Apple says the new M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro will be available in July. That’s okay, they’ll be available just in time for back-to-school!
Keep an eye on the Best Buy site for pre-ordering information.