In 2012, I walked into the Apple Store to buy a MacBook for college with all the money I earned from my summer job. I set a budget under $1,000 and was on a mission to find the perfect laptop for recent journalism. The clerk at the store pointed me toward the 11-inch MacBook Air and said, “It’s light! It’s portable! It’s perfect for writing stories on the go!” He was right. This allowed me four years of lectures, internships and university work.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t envious whenever I see another student carrying a MacBook Pro. I always felt like I was settling for the Air – sacrificing some features I thought I needed for portability. But a decade later, I couldn’t feel any different. The new MacBook Air for 2022 actually offers more rather than the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, including a sleek new design, a bigger and brighter screen, MagSafe support (yes, it’s back!) and a 1080p webcam.
With these upgrades comes the inevitable price increase. The base MacBook Air now starts at $1,199 (you can still get the 2020 M1 MacBook Air for $999). It’s still no MacBook Pro, which has a nicer selection of ports and more raw power, but after all these years, the Air is still light, portable, and perfect for writing stories on the go.
A breath of fresh air
Gone are the days of the signature wedge design on the MacBook Air. The new model now has the same boxy chassis as the latest high-end MacBook Pro models, giving it a more sophisticated look in my eyes. But it is a lot lighter. At only 2.7 pounds, I tend to pick it up with too much force because I’m not used to carrying such a light machine. (It’s thinner and lighter than the 2020 MacBook Air!)
It may have a similar look, but unfortunately you won’t get the same connectivity upgrade. The new MacBook Air only has two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack and – thankfully – a MagSafe charging port. (There are no HDMI or SD card ports.) As someone who mostly uses a MacBook for writing, email, video calling, and Netflix, the lack of ports didn’t bother me, but it would have been nice.
If you’re coming from an older Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro, you’ll probably appreciate the new screen the most. Somehow. It’s still an LCD panel that’s stuck at 60Hz, but Apple has increased the brightness a bit and I had no trouble reading the screen while working outside in my yard. The screen size also goes from 13.3 to 13.6 inches, thanks to thinner bezels around the screen. It sounds like a small boost, but I noticed (and appreciated) the larger real estate. Annoyingly, this MacBook can still only connect to one external monitor (a limitation for the M1 MacBook Air as well). Not great if you want to take advantage of the multi-screen setup.
Just like the 14-inch MacBook Pro, there’s a notch carved into the center top of the screen, which houses the 1080p webcam, but I don’t mind it. You can use a dark background to hide it and it also disappears when you have the app in full screen mode. If the notch is what allowed Apple to finally upgrade the webcam, I’m all for it. It’s finally 1080p, so I’m looking sharper in my video calls, although I’ve noticed that Apple is adding a skin-smoothing effect.