M1 vs. M2 Apple Silicon. Old design vs. new design. LCD vs. Mini LED. Black bezels vs. white. Forehead vs. notch. Potato cam vs. 1080p. $999 vs. $1099… Maybe $1199? Yeah, if the rumors are true, there are a few really good reasons to wait, but also a couple truly massive reasons not to. So, if you’re perseverating over grabbing an M1 MacBook Air now, now, now, or trying to hold out for the M2 MacBook later, don’t worry, I got you.
First up. Design. The M1 MacBook Air didn’t get a new one. It stuck with the same enclosure it’s had since 2018 in specific and 2010 in general. And that’s ok. That’s fine. It’s a classic and it gave Apple not just a known thermal envelope for that M1 chipset, but some breathing room to focus on the new iMac and MacBook Pro designs. Plus is kept the price down. And more on that in a potentially show-stopper minute.
It’s still thin, still light, still the absolute easiest Mac to carry from home to school to work — or these days, kitchen to bedroom to couch — and still has that famous Star Destroyer-style wedge shape that launched a thousand ultrabook clones. And I still love it. All caps love it. It’s just not new any more.
But that’s exactly where the M2 redesign is supposed to come in. According to reports, it’ll be a bit flatter and more retro, like the new MacBook Pros, but way lighter and thinner. And way less wedge-ee-er? Maybe as light and thin and flat as the previous, now discontinued, 12-inch MacBook. Once again pushing the envelope — the manila envelop — on what an ultra-light, ultra-portable Mac really means. And it maybe, just maybe deleting the Air brand again and taking back the MacBook… as in MacBook Nothing name.
Also, Thanos-snapping the bezels to make the overall casing around the display as hipster minimal as it can possibly be. Reportedly off-white, like the recent 24-inch M1 iMac redesign, which Apple thinks fades away better into home and front-of-house decor. And bringing back that old school iBook — or just modern iMac-style — taste the rainbow palette of colors. Which, yeah, I can’t freaking wait.
So, if you don’t give a damn about design and the classic Air is more than light and thin enough, and you prefer Air wedged, your bezels black, and your casings more silver and space grey conservative, get the M1 now.
But if you’re all hot damn about the potential for something even smaller and lighter and flatter, with white bezels, and a cavalcade of colors, you’ll want to wait for the M2.
The M1 MacBook Air has the best display ever in an Air. 13.3-inches and Retina, which means high enough density you can’t easily make out individual pixels at normal viewing range, just crisp, clean text and images. TrueTone, so whites never look too blue or too yellow, just proper, paper white. P3 wide color gamut for richer reds and more vibrant greens. But only standard dynamic range and nowhere nearly as bright as Apple’s more recent displays.
Which is exactly what the M2 MacBook is supposed to fix. Probably the same 13.3-inches, give or take, just in a smaller enclosure. Like what Apple did with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro rather than the 11-inch iPad Pro, or 14-inch MacBook Pro. Though maybe, just maybe with a notch. That is, if they want to get the bezels as small as possible and also increase the quality of the camera as much as possible. Which, yeah, all the fingers crossed.
Also, the M2 display is rumored to be mini-LED, which Apple seems intent on pushing across their whole entire premium product line right now. That’ll allow for HDR, high dynamic range, meaning deep, inky shadows and bright, blinding highlights. Probably no 120Hz ProMotion, since Apple seems just as intent on keeping that exclusive to their Pro level product line, at least for now. But otherwise just a huge escalation all around.
So, if the current display or more than enough for your computing needs, go ahead and get the M1 MacBook Air.
But, if you really want you some high dynamic range, you’re going to have to hold out for the M2.
The M1 MacBook Air has… the M1. Apple’s first generation of custom silicon for the Mac. It’s ased on the same IP and architecture as the A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12. And I’ve got a deep dive video up on it that I’ll drop a link to in the description below the like button. Basically, it’s an ultra-low-power system on a chip, which means it’s ultra efficient to the point of providing up to 18 hours of battery life, but also higher performance than pretty much any other chipset in its class. There’s no fan, so it’s ultra quiet, but if you want to do heavy sustained workloads of longer than 20 minutes, you may want to check out the Pro instead. Otherwise it’s just ultra fast and ultra responsive as it is quiet and long lasting. Like, game-changer level. All of it.
The M2 MacBook will have… M2. Apple’s second generation custom silicon. And if it comes out any time soon, that means it’ll most likely be based on the same IP and architecture as the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13. So, more efficient performance cores, higher performance efficiency cores, way more powerful, and more numerous, graphics cores, and maybe some level of the ProRes engines Apple just brought over to the new MacBook Pros. At least enough to make ultra-light video editing, if nowhere nearly Pro level, at least way less frustrating than its ever been before. In other words, same if not slightly better battery life, but a whole lot more capability.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing to suggest an increase in memory, storage, Wi-Fi technology, or the addition of any cellular options. At least not this time around.
So, if the M1 is more than enough power and battery life for your needs, go ahead and get it now.
But if you want to see Apple squeeze just a little more power into a little less packaging, wait for the M2.
For a while the MacBook Air was the only Apple laptop loitering with legacy ports. But, in 2018, it went all-in on USB-C and Thunderbolt, just like everything else. All-in meaning to two of them, even if both were… yeah… hey Cap, on your left. Rather than the more useful one on each side. And that’s what the M1 has. Two of them. Both on the left.
The M2 MacBook is rumored to be restoring at least the MagSafe port, Apple’s magnetic charging dingus. That should be in addition to 2 USB 4 ports, which carry both USB-C and Thunderbolt 4. Because going to one port, even one port plus MagSafe, would just be one hell of a regression.
So, if you’re cool with the two USB-C slash Thunderbolt 3 ports on the M1 MacBook Air, go get ‘em. And if you’re at all worried Apple might drop that down to one, go get ‘em now.
But, if you think M2 might give you MagSafe back and two USB-C slash Thunderbolt 4 ports to boot, well… you’re just going to have to wait and see.
The M1 MacBook Air starts at $999, even less with an education discount or if you can find it on sale. And that’s always been just the minimum magical price for the Air. And sure, $999 isn’t as cheap as a low-end plastic PCBook, but given the performance, the battery life, the build-quality, the macOS, just everything that comes with it, the value more than makes up for the cost. Which is just exactly why it’s perennially the most popular Mac. And it’s available now.
The M2 MacBook though… that might start at $1099, just to cover the increased cost of mini-LED. Maybe even $1199, if there’s any other new technologies Apple needs to pay down on top of that. Also, because rumor has it, it’s not so much meant to replace the M1, but to slide in on top of it as a more premium option. At least at first. Which wouldn’t be anything really new for the MacBook or the Air. They’ve always launched at higher prices, and then, in the Air’s case, dropped down over time. And in the 12-inch MacBook’s case, just been dropped. Plus, it’s only come this spring at the earliest, but maybe not until the late fall.
So, if money or time matters to you most, and you want an entry level MacBook Air, you’ll want the M1, available now.
But if money and time are literally no object and you’re lusting after a higher-end MacBook, you’ll have to wait on the M2.
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