Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Which MacBook is best: M1 Air vs M2 Air

Picking between laptops isn’t easy, but with two MacBook Air models, the decision is even more complicated. Which MacBook Air is best for you?

Finding a laptop can be a complex search between screen size, specs, and intended use, but it’s not made any easy by the sheer number of choices out there. And with a recent addition, it’s even more complex.

As of the middle of 2022, there are now two MacBook Air models, as Apple’s latest MacBook Air didn’t end up so much replacing the 2020 model, but instead added to it. You can now pick between the M1 MacBook Air from 2020 and the M2 MacBook Air from 2022, making the choice that much more complex.

Both are still technically Apple’s most cost-effective laptop, and one of the lightest and more solidly performance portable computers you can find, but with two Air models, the choice isn’t super easy.

How do you pick between the MacBook Air models, and which Air is best?


M1 Air on top of the M2 Air
M1 Air on top of the M2 Air

Solid designs are pretty strong across Apple’s computer lines, and ever since the maker of the iPhone made the jump to aluminium everything, the computers have not only been pretty, but durable, too.

The Air has long been both, and the M1 Air offers a great look with the sharp design we’ve seen for several years.

However, the M2 Air turns it up again, moving away from the sleek sloped edges of the previous MacBook Air models — arguably the style that started the Air off and has been refined over time — switching it out instead for a taut and trim laptop modelled on the modern MacBook Pro.

Both are lovely, but we love the design of the M2 MacBook Air more.

Winner: M2 MacBook Air


The same use of aluminium means both MacBook Air models are about as durable as each other, which is great news for long term use.

We wouldn’t go out of our way to drop or intentionally damage either computer, but they’re both built well and crafted from premium materials.

Winner: Tie


The M1 Air next to the M2 Air.

With a slightly bigger screen that makes better use of the 13 inch size, plus that little notch helping the screen size overall, we’ll give this one to the new Air.

While it doesn’t get the Liquid Retina XDR tech out of the MacBook Pro 16 or its 14 inch sibling, the slightly slimmer frame and the bigger display gives this category to the 2022 Air.

Winner: M2 MacBook Air

Keyboard and mouse

While using either model is about the same regardless of which you choose, the most recent model, the M2 Air, actually has a slightly larger keyboard. They mouse is the same, but the keyboards are not.

You probably wouldn’t realise unless you were looking at it — which is precisely why we’ve taken a photo of it.

Comparing the keyboards of the M1 Air and M2 Air side-by-side, you can see the more recent model actually has an ever so slightly larger keyboard. The difference is small, but it’s definitely there.

It’s enough to award this section to the newbie, which isn’t just larger, but just as comfortable to use, too.

Winner: M2 MacBook Air

Connection & relability

They both pretty much arrive with the same connection options, with the M2 Air getting an extra port for charging.

There’s a grand total of two combined Type C USB and Thunderbolt port options on each model, while WiFi and Bluetooth deliver the same connection speeds, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5 for each.

You’ll miss out on the WiFi 6E you might find on a recent PC, but with so few devices getting the tech yet, you might not care. And frankly, the two Air models arrive with the exact same wireless connection options, so we’ll call this a draw.

Winner: Tie

Sound quality

The same can’t be said for the sound quality, with the 2022 model Air doing marginally better than the 2020 one.

Not only will you find twice the number of speakers on the M2 MacBook Air (four versus the 2020 Air’s two), but the new MacBook Air also sports support for Dolby Atmos playback both in the speakers and with Apple’s headphones, the latter of which supports positional head-tracking.

Weirdly, Atmos with head-tracking is one feature missing in action on the M1 chips, meaning if you opt for the M1 Air today, you’ll miss out on spatial awareness in Apple Music on a pair of AirPods Max, AirPods Pro, or even the new standard AirPods.

Winner: M2 MacBook Air


But they both do beautifully in battery life, with as much as 18 hours on offer, though you’ll more likely hit 15 to 16 hours.

On either laptop, if you use Chrome, you’ll find closer to 12 hours max, while Safari bumps that up to 15-odd hours, and if you spend all your time watching videos on a flight, you might find a little more.

Both are supremely capable in battery life, and while the M2 MacBook Air comes with a smaller charging brick — something the M1 Air goes without — we’ll call this one a tie given how strong they both are.

Winner: Tie


And both models also score points for value, but given that the M1 Air is still available and for the lowest price of any new MacBook model, we need to give this one the category of value.

Yes, the M2 MacBook Air is faster and comes with a few more features, but starting at $1499, the M1 Air is the least expensive Mac laptop brand new and still a bloody excellent one at that.

Still fast, still light, still well made, still extremely capable, and still available makes what has been one of our favourite laptops for value still incredibly compelling for the same reason. The M2 Air offers great value, too, but for $400 less, the M1 Air is still well worth checking out.

Winner: M1 MacBook Air

What should I choose: M1 MacBook Air or M2 MacBook Air

If you’re trying to pick between the MacBook Air models available in 2022, you certainly have a choice, but the good news is, either is a great one, coming down to whether you want to spend on an already established and pretty great computer for a little less, or something a little better for a little more.

The 2022 MacBook Air is the one to get if you want more in the way of screen size, sound, and performance, and don’t mind spending close to $2K to make it happen. And if you prefer to spend a little less, the M1 MacBook Air can deliver that, too.

Both are fantastic laptops, and we can see why Apple kept the now two year old M1 Air around. Sure, that makes picking between them a little more difficult, but if you need some logic, it really comes down to this: consider the M2 Air if you want the best Air, or alternatively consider the M1 Air if you want to save a few hundred bucks. Each machine is excellent, though, so either way, you’re getting something highly recommended.

Read next