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MacBook Air 2022: M2 chip, new colors, thinner bezels, and more

The buzz has slowly been building for Apple’s next MacBook Air. That’s because the next iteration of the ultra-lightweight laptop won’t just be a simple run-of-the-mill update. According to many well-placed sources and analysts, Apple is working on something big for its littlest laptop.

We’ve rounded up all the news, rumors, and leaks we can get our hands on to bring you this one-stop guide to all things MacBook Air. Want to know what to expect when Apple overhauls one of its most popular Macs? You’re in the right place.

Release date

A concept rendering of the redesigned MacBook Air.
Concept rendering by ZONEofTECH.

When momentum started to gather around the MacBook Air’s upcoming update, the initial projections were for a launch in late 2021. It was a no-show at the Unleashed MacBook Pro event, though, which was Apple’s final event of the year.

Now delving into 2022, the lightweight laptop was also a no-show at Apple’s Peek Performance event in March. Instead, the company showcased new components, including the M1 Ultra chip, and products, including the Mac Studio desktop and Studio Display peripheral. The MacBook Air’s absence from yet another event has not been seen as a bad omen, but rather shifted pundits’ expectations.

A recent report from DigiTimes suggests that the notebook might be unveiled during the second half of 2022. These claims back up reports from notable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said mass production is likely to begin for the MacBook Air during the late second quarter for the third quarter of 2022.

From there, the consensus around the MacBook Air’s release date seems to have now settled around the middle of 2022. For instance, Twitter leaker Dylandkt, who has a fairly solid track record when it comes to Apple leaks, says we can expect the new MacBook Air “in the first half of 2022.”

However, respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated in September that the MacBook Air would enter mass production either late in the second quarter of 2022 or early in the third quarter. That suggests a timeline of roughly June to July. If that’s when the MacBook Air is entering mass production, a launch in late summer or fall might be in the cards. If Apple intends to continue leaving MacBook launches for the fall, it could be as late as September or October before these laptops finally launch. Apple tends to hold a Mac-focused event in October, so the debut of this new MacBook Air makes sense for that time frame.

Price

It’s beginning to look like the new MacBook Air may come in at a slightly higher price when it launches. Most recently, Twitter leaker Dylandkt has reported that the redesigned MacBook Air will be priced higher than the current $999 MacBook Air.

That lines up with an earlier report from Ming-Chi Kuo, who stated that we could see a price drop on the current M1 MacBook Air. Reporter Mark Gurman also believes the new MacBook Air could be positioned as a high-end alternative to the M1 model.

The rise in price of the new MacBook Pro, which now starts at $1,999, could indicate that Apple is increasing prices across the board.

It’s possible that Apple will rebrand this model as simply a “MacBook,” or the company may sell this more expensive MacBook Air alongside the older, cheaper MacBook Air.

A bold new design

Jon Prosser's render of the new MacBook Air.
Concept rendering by Jon Prosser. Jon Prosser

With several launch events passed and no new MacBook Air, there has a been considerable amount of time to collect and revise information about the laptop. Some recent details suggest that redesign aspects might focus on a complete redesign that makes the chassis thinner and lighter, but with flatter edges like the MacBook Pro. Apple might also reintroduce MagSafe 3 charging to this model, much like it did to the MacBook Pro in 2021.

The color options, expected for the MacBook Air, might include blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange, and purple, matching what is available in the 24-inch iMac, which was originally reported by leaker and YouTuber Jon Prosser. Prosser’s reports also indicated a change to white bezels and keys on the keyboard. This would, again, match the new iMac design.

Additionally, Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), Ross Young recently detailed that Apple might increase the MacBook Air display slightly, from 13.3-inches to 13.6-inches. Again, these tweaks might be done in lieu of major hardware upgrades that would increase the price of the laptop.

One thing we are certain of, based on the breadth and depth of rumors doing the rounds, is that the MacBook Air’s iconic design is set for a big shake-up. Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has shared his belief that Apple is working on a “Thinner and lighter version of the MacBook Air” compared to the current iteration. He also shared that Apple was considering a 15-inch MacBook Air at one point, but the company “isn’t moving forward with this for the next generation.”

A colorful MacBook Air concept shared by Jon Prosser.
Concept rendering by Jon Prosser.

Leaker and YouTuber Jon Prosser has gone further regarding the upcoming MacBook Air’s design. He claims Apple is working on a MacBook Air with bright, fun colors like those seen in the new 24-inch iMac. Like the iMac, the MacBook Air will also have white screen bezels and keys on its keyboard, Prosser contends.

Twitter leaker Dylandkt has agreed with Prosser, tweeting in July that the upcoming MacBook Air will have “The same colors as the iMac, including the same bezel color as the iMac.” Later, Dylandkt stated that the MacBook Air may lose its iconic wedge shape and could even drop the “Air” name altogether.

Interestingly, Prosser’s renders, which he claims are based on actual photos of the upcoming laptop, show a device that omits the tapered frame that the MacBook Air is most famous for. Prosser says that it will instead feature a flat-edged chassis, much like the rumored design of the 14-inch MacBook Pro. That’s something Ming-Chi Kuo has also claimed, and like Prosser, the analyst also believes the MacBook Air will come in a range of colors.

A notch and a 1080p webcam

A concept of the new MacBook Air, shown with a notch.
Concept rendering by Jon Prosser.

According to Jon Prosser, new concept images were in late October 2021 made based on leaked information about the look and design of the upcoming MacBook Air. They show the white bezels of the previous Prosser details, but now feature the same webcam notch as the new MacBook Pro. Twitter leaker Dylandkt says the same 1080p webcam will be housed in that notch to match the MacBook Pro.

The images also show some impressively narrow bezels and an insanely thin chassis.

As always, everything in reports like this should be treated as mere rumor. The notch on the new MacBook Pro was a surprise, and while it makes sense to bring that same form to the MacBook Air, that’s based only speculation.

A mini-LED display?

The M1-powered Macbook Air, open on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

One of the most important upgrades of any laptop is the screen. When Mark Gurman stated his belief that the MacBook Air would be thinner and lighter, he elaborated a little on the ‘thinner’ aspect, explaining that the laptop’s screen bezels would be reduced in size.

However, do not expect to see something similar to what Apple did to the MacBook Pro 15, when the device’s bezels were shrunk so much the laptop could be transformed into a 16-inch MacBook Pro. No, Gurman says that despite the narrower bezels, Apple will stick to the tried-and-true 13-inch screen for the MacBook Air.

It does appear that Apple will remain more on the conservative side of things, with only a mild increase in size from 13.3-inches to 13.6-inches on the coming MacBook Air.

There are a number of conflicting reports as to whether Apple will continue using LCD panels for MacBook Air, or if it will upgrade to mini-LED; however, the reports seem to be favoring an LCD display.

Kuo and DigiTimes were initially certain that the MacBook Air would feature mini-LED in 2021, prior to the ‘Unleashed’ event, but now, in the wake of the ‘Peek Performance’ event, believes the laptop will be announced with an LCD display. The consensus appears to be that Apple is developing a more affordable device at this time and that the mini-LED display will be an exclusive feature to the brand’s high-end MacBook Pro models.

Twitter leaker Dylandkt recently stated that although mini-LED is still a possibility, although he confirmed that the 120Hz ProMotion feature will be reserved for the MacBook Pro only.

We consider mini-LED unlikely, at least for now. That’s because Apple seems to be limiting this tech to its Pro products, helping to distinguish them as high-end devices with the most forward-thinking features available. The 24-inch iMac, which is not a “pro” device, did not get a mini-LED screen, for example. Consumer products like the iMac and the MacBook Air might have to miss out for now, especially as their price points are lower than their Pro siblings and mini-LED panels continue to face shortages and rising prices.

The next-gen M2 chip

The Apple M1 chip sitting on a circuitboard.

The ‘Peek Performance’ event was interesting in that it brought up more questions than it answered, especially in terms of components. Prior to the launch, most everyone was certain that Apple was going to unveil a MacBook Pro running a next-generation M2 chip. Instead, the company announced an incremental M1 Ultra chip and coupled it with new hardware.

So, what chip will the coming MacBook Air have? Most are certain it will run an original M1 chip. Once again, this is likely to keep in step with cost-effectiveness and Apple’s new forte as a brand with completely proprietary silicon.

And what of the M2 chip? Ross Young is sure there is an M2 chip in Apple’s pipeline. When that chip will release and on what device, is an absolute mystery at this point. The timing certainly would suggest that Apple is preparing an M2 to launch in a new 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air this fall, two years after the launch of the original M1.

The return of MagSafe

The new port selection on the rumored MacBook Air.

One of the most welcome changes rumored to be coming to the MacBook Air is the return of MagSafe. No, not Apple’s magnetic iPhone charging tech. The original MagSafe featured a charging cable that magnetically attached to your MacBook, meaning it would snap free if it was accidentally yanked, preventing your laptop from smashing onto the floor. It’s been absent from the MacBook Air since Apple discontinued the last MagSafe MacBook Air in 2019.

Now, both Mark Gurman and Jon Prosser say it’s making a happy return. They will likely be the third-generation MagSafe, which is both smaller and more powerful.

Aside from that, Gurman believes the MacBook Air will come with two USB4 ports. Prosser simply states it will have two USB-C ports, although he hasn’t outlined whether they will be USB4.

Meanwhile, Dylandkt claims that the MacBook Air will not have the HDMI and SD card slot that the MacBook Pro includes.

Everything else we expect to see

A close-up of the M1 Macbook Air showing its display and keyboard.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Prosser has claimed the new MacBook Air’s keyboard will feature full-sized function keys like the MacBook Pro, as opposed to the squat versions on the current model. That will push the rest of the keyboard down, which in turn means the trackpad will be slightly smaller. That’s a shame, as one of the strengths of Apple’s laptop trackpads is their large size, which makes them perfect for the many great MacOS gestures.

One feature that would be tightly linked to the webcam setup is Face ID. We’ve been wanting it to make the jump from iPhones to Macs for ages now, and we know Apple is working on doing just that, but it seems we are going to have to wait a little longer. Back in January 2021, Mark Gurman said both Face ID and cellular connectivity would be absent from the next MacBook Air, as they simply aren’t ready yet.

Since Face ID was a no-show on the new MacBook Pros, it feels unlikely that Apple will bring it to the MacBook Air first.

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