With so many MacBooks and so many new Apple Silicon chips, it’s difficult to know what to look for when purchasing a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.
Apple sells MacBooks starting at $999 (100k) and going up to $3,499, (300k) and those are just the standard configurations without optional upgrades, which can cost thousands more. With the new M2 chip, we’re now firmly in Apple Silicon’s second generation, and the new M2 MacBook Air is already a favorite, despite being more expensive than its predecessor..
The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are well-known for their excellent design, build quality, and usability. The generally intuitive nature of MacOS, as well as the fact that Apple manufactures both hardware and software, contribute significantly to this.
Here are some MacBook buying tips and answers to frequently asked questions, as well as a breakdown of which Mac is best for whom.
Apple is still providing educational discounts on MacBooks:
Normally, the Apple Store is not the best place to buy an Apple laptop (or, for that matter, almost any Apple product) because sales are almost non-existent. Apple’s education sales, which typically include MacBook deals, are a notable exception to the rule. If you’re a student or teacher, you could save $100 (10K) on a MacBook Air and get a free pair of AirPods, as well as a 20% discount on AppleCare Plus extended warranty (which I have mixed feelings about). Best Buy’s Student Deals page, on the other hand, has provided us with Apple laptop deals.
The TouchBar is (mostly) extinct.
The TouchBar, a slim secondary touchscreen that sits above the keyboard that was announced with great fanfare in 2016, is now only available on one model, the M2 13-inch MacBook Pro, which retains its dated design despite having Apple’s latest chip.
The webcam on the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, as well as the 13-inch Air, is excellent;
the webcam on the 13-inch MacBook Pro is mediocre:
The upgrade to a 1,080-pixel resolution camera in the latest MacBooks and 24-inch iMac is a game changer for people who spend their days in video meetings. Here are some tips for improving the 720-pixel cameras in those other Macs.
If you require something larger and don’t mind having it attached to a desk:
In 2021, Apple updated its smaller iMac (formerly 21.5 inches, now 24 inches), which now comes in seven color options and is powered by the company’s M1 processor. A Mac Mini or Mac Studio desktop can also be paired with the new 27-inch Mac Studio Display.
Almost all Macs now use Apple’s own M1 and M2 processors:
Since late 2020, the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, Mac Studio, 24-inch iMac, 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro have all used M1, M2, M1 Pro, or M1 Max/Ultra chips with CPU and GPU cores. Based on our preliminary testing, the Apple M1/M2 line has mostly lived up to Apple’s promises of longer battery life and faster performance. There is still one old Mac Mini and one really old Mac Pro desktop with an Intel chip available.
The key question is how to avoid purchasing too few or too many MacBooks. Which MacBook is best suited to your requirements? The 13-inch Air remains the default choice for most people, and rightly so. The new 14-inch and 16-inch Pro models are more powerful, but only for those who require heavy GPU support. Yes, you get a better display, a new camera, and more ports, but if you buy a new Pro solely for that, you’re essentially making a vanity purchase.
MacBook Air (13-inch, M2, 2022)
The new MacBook Air for 2022 receives its most significant update in many years, moving to the latest M2 chip and adopting a new design. With one caveat, it’s now my favorite Mac, thanks to that new MacBook-Pro-like design, larger display (13.6-inch vs 13.3-inch), faster M2 chip, and long-awaited upgrade to a higher-resolution webcam. The $200 price increase over the standard $999 MacBook Air starting price of $1,199 is a letdown.
The new MacBook Air goes above and beyond the Pro models in one important way: it adds new colors to the space gray and silver palette, including a new gold-like Starlight and a deep, dark Midnight finish. That Midnight, which has a matte black finish, reminds me of the old matte black polycarbonate MacBooks from the mid-2000s, which I thought had a very sharp look.
There are numerous MacBook models, prices, and specifications to keep track of. To summarize, the main reasons you’ll prefer the new M2 Air over the previous M1 model are:
- Slimmer, more modern design in new colors
- Upgraded full-HD webcam
- Larger, brighter display (13.6 inches vs. 13.3 inches)
- Faster M2 processor
MacBook Air (13-inch, M1, 2020)
The new M2 MacBook Air has surpassed, but not replaced, this model. It still deserves a spot on this list because it is Apple’s sole $999 laptop.
This Apple laptop was everyone’s favorite for many years. It was reasonably priced, thin, light, and well-made. It could last for years and withstand numerous falls and bumps. $999 would suffice for any college student or coffee shop creative.
You only get two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, but that should be enough for most people as long as you can get a whatever-to-USB-C dongle.
The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops have better displays, faster processors, and more ports than the new M2 MacBook Air. HDMI and SD card slots are also available on the Pro models.