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It appears that rumors of the imminent arrival of Apple’s latest MacBook Air were indeed accurate. The M2-powered and wholly redesigned MacBook Air will be up for pre-order this Friday, and you’ll be able to get your hands on it in stores on Friday, July 15.
Apple announced the news this morning, confirming the specs and pricing for the new model. However, it’s unclear what availability is going to be like, so be prepared to get your order in early if you want to make sure you’re first in line for Apple’s new MacBook.
The new M2 MacBook Air came as something of a surprise at last month’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), where it was unveiled alongside a considerably more underwhelming 13-inch MacBook Pro update.
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Although Apple initially said that its new M2 MacBooks wouldn’t arrive until July, the 13-inch MacBook Pro snuck out a bit early, which makes sense since it wasn’t much of an upgrade; it’s basically the 2020 M1 MacBook Pro with an M2 chip inside.
Most agree that it’s also not the MacBook to buy this season, so it’s probably a good thing that Apple already got that one out of the way. It’s the new M2 MacBook Air that’s been getting most of the attention since not only has Apple introduced a sleek new design that mirrors the more powerful 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro but it’s also beefed up the specs in some exciting ways beyond just the M2 chip.
What’s New in the M2 MacBook Air?
Apple’s latest M2 chip is a pretty solid upgrade on its own since it brings an extra two GPU cores while boasting faster performance on each CPU and GPU core, more memory bandwidth for an extra boost in performance, and up to 24GB of RAM. There’s also a new media engine for hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding everything from H.264 to ProRes video formats.
However, unlike its so-called 13-inch “Pro” counterpart, the new MacBook Air has been completely redesigned. The tapered wedge-shaped design that’s been a hallmark of the MacBook Air since the beginning has been discarded in favor of the more modern squared-edge look introduced on last year’s 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro lineup.
The improvements are more than skin deep, though. The display has grown slightly to 13.6 inches, thanks to the inclusion of the higher-end MacBook Pro camera notch at the top of the display. Apple is also branding this a “Liquid Retina” display, although it’s unclear what that means in practical terms since the listed specs don’t seem to have changed beyond the 64-pixel height increase to account for the notch.
Further, the FaceTime camera finally gets a boost to 1080p. There have been many complaints about Apple’s insistence on sticking with 720p cameras in its laptops for far longer than it should have. It wasn’t until last year’s new higher-end MacBook Pro lineup was released that we saw the first bump to a 1080p camera, and the good news is that the new MacBook Air brings this improvement to the masses by placing it on Apple’s most affordable laptop.
The M2 MacBook Air also delivers a four-speaker sound system with support for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos. Of course, you’ll also get Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking when using a compatible set of AirPods. That’s something that the M1 MacBook Air didn’t support.
The MagSafe port from the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro has also come to the MacBook Air. You still get the same two USB-C ports as before, but you won’t need to use one of them for charging, so you effectively get an extra port. The new MacBook Air also supports fast charging to take you from dead to a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes, although you’ll need Apple’s 67W power adapter (more info on MacBook Air chargers here).
This is also where things get a bit tricky. As usual, Apple sells an entry-level M2 MacBook Air for $1,199 with more limited specs. This includes an M2 with an 8-core GPU just like the previous model’s 7-core version, but this time, Apple is only throwing in the basic 30W single-port USB-C charger.
If you want Apple’s new 35W Dual USB-C charger or the single-port 67W charger, you’ll need to pay $20 more.
Alternatively, you can step up to the $1,499 MacBook Air, which includes the 35W charger by default, which can be swapped out for the 67W version at no extra charge. This model also gives you the full M2 with a 10-core GPU and a 512GB SSD.
Apple’s new M2 MacBook Air is also included in Apple’s Back to School Promotion, so if you’re an eligible student or educator, you’ll save money with the educational discount and get a $150 Apple Gift Card on top of that.
Preorders for the new M2 MacBook Air will open on Friday, July 8 at 5 a.m. PT on the Apple online store, with prices starting at $1,199 or $1,099 for educational buyers. It’s expected to begin arriving in customers’ hands and retail stores on Friday, July 15.