New MacBook Air
The new MacBook Air is expected to launch sometime in 2022 with a colorful redesign. The M2 processor will enable Apple to introduce the thinnest, lightest MacBook yet, but with performance rivaling any laptop in the category.
● colorful new design
● Two Thunderbolt 4 ports
● MagSafe charging
● 13.3-inch Retina Display with notch
● M2 processor
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Design changes in Apple products are so rare that the M1 MacBook Air is nearly the same size and shape as the first one released in 2008. The bezels have shrunk, the chassis thinned, and ports removed, but overall it is unmistakable thanks to its tapered casing.
That's all set to change in 2022, with the new MacBook Air running an M2 processor. Apple will introduce multiple updates to its most popular laptop to launch it into the next decade of design and functionality. A similar change was made to the 24-inch iMac in 2021, thanks to the M1 processor.
The MacBook Air was amongst the first Macs to gain the M1 processor in the Apple Silicon transition. However, Apple didn't introduce a redesign to focus reporting on the processing capabilities.
New MacBook Air Features
The M2 processor will dictate exactly what the new MacBook Air will be capable of, but specs aren't the whole story. A part of the MacBook Air's legacy and popularity is its price point, so Apple will have to walk the line between flashy redesign and a reasonable feature set to keep the price low.
Rumors surrounding the new MacBook Air indicate it will take on many of the same design elements as the 24-inch iMac. However, it will also mimic some of the design choices made in the 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The tapered casing will no longer be used; instead, it will have a uniform thickness across the chassis. As a result, it will be very thin, thinner than the MacBook Pro, but with just enough space to accommodate its USB-C ports.
Apple may use the same color range as the iMac, but fewer or different options are possible. Our renders use the iMac colors in blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, and purple hues. In addition, the external casing will use a saturated color, while the interior will use the muted colors seen on the front of the iMac "chin."
The bezels around the display and the keyboard are Apple's new off-white color. Speculation suggests these are the colors used to differentiate between professional and consumer-grade devices. The MacBook Pro uses black keys in a black frame, for example.
Other aspects of the design should remain familiar. For example, the aluminum casing, glass trackpad, and scissor-switch keyboard are all Apple device trademarks.
The MacBook Air has a 13.3-inch display, which may not change with the redesign. However, Apple is expected to shrink the bezels and use a notch for the camera, meaning a slightly larger screen or smaller device footprint.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects the display to remain 13.3 inches and possibly use a mini-LED backlight. The technology is relatively new at Apple and is used in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and 2021 MacBook Pros.
Using mini-LED instead of LED backlights enables more uniform lighting thanks to more dimming zones and light sources. It isn't quite as efficient as OLED, but it is much better than LED.
While mini-LED backlighting could trickle down from the high-end devices, ProMotion will not. This feature allows a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz for smooth animations and scrolling but likely is too expensive to make the cut for Apple's budget laptop.
A resolution change is also unlikely, especially if Apple sticks with the 13.3-inch display size. This means the new MacBook Air would have a 2560-by-1600 native resolution at 227 PPI.
The transition to Apple Silicon has revealed some of Apple's processor strategy, but it still isn't entirely clear. Rumors suggest that the next generation of Apple Silicon will be called the M2, a direct successor to the M1.
This chip will be a faster M1 with some new bells and whistles, but it won't be Apple's fastest chipset yet. Instead, that crown will belong to the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and whatever chip is used in the Mac Pro.
Some limitations could be addressed by the M2, notably external display support. The M1 could only process one external display connection over Thunderbolt, so the MacBook Air was limited to one monitor despite having two ports. The M2 may address this by allowing multiple ports and daisy-chaining.
Apple also introduced a Media Engine on the M1 Pro and M1 Max that could trickle down to the consumer processor. This would allow better processing times on certain media types like high-resolution audio or video.
Increasing the number of Thunderbolt controllers in the M2 could enable more ports as well. While there is very little space in the thin chassis, something like MagSafe or an SD card reader could squeeze in. The M1 Pro and M1 Max have more Thunderbolt controllers, which gave the MacBook Pro more port types and an additional Thunderbolt port.
Ports and Webcam
The rumored ports include two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a MagSafe connector, and a headphone jack. That would be an upgrade from the two existing Thunderbolt 3 ports and headphone jack used today.
Thunderbolt 4 is a backward-compatible universal port that takes some guesswork out of specs and uses of the ports. They use USB Type-C connectors but transfer up to 100W of power and 40GBps of data.
The MagSafe connector returned the 2021 MacBook Pros and will likely also be used for the new MacBook Air. Since the battery will be much smaller than the MacBook Pro's, it won't require as much power to fast charge.
The webcam is expected to move to 1080p and see some image quality improvements thanks to the M2. If Apple uses an ultra-wide lens, it could introduce Center Stage, but it hasn't done so on any other Mac.
New MacBook Air Price and Release Date
Since the MacBook Air is considered a budget-friendly device aimed at students, Apple isn't likely to increase its price. The current model starts at $999 for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. This configuration will likely be identical except for the M2 processor.
Customers can configure it up to 2TB of storage and 16GB of RAM. While the M2 may enable more RAM to be used, Apple will unlikely offer higher RAM options for this consumer-grade machine.
The release date of the new MacBook Air is highly dependent on the M2 announcement. While Apple could announce the latest processors and Macs during a March event, the global chip shortage may push these announcements back to the fall of 2022.