Apple MacBook Air M2 vs M1 MacBook Air: A closer look at what has changed

Apple’s MacBook Air, powered by the new M2 chipset, was officially announced at the WWDC 2022 keynote and it is a much-awaited laptop. Apple is giving the MacBook Air, one of its best-selling Macs, an upgrade after two years. But Apple will continue selling the older M1 MacBook Air as well.

So what is the difference between the two MacBook Air variants and which is the right pick for you? We take a look.

Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: Difference in price

The older MacBook Air with the M1 processor starts at Rs 99,900 on the Apple website. This is for the 256GB SSD version which has an 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU. If you buy the 512GB SSD version, the price goes up to Rs 1,19,900. This version has an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU. If you want to upgrade the RAM to 16GB, prepare to pay Rs 20,000 extra. This option is available on the Apple website. But keep in mind that deliveries for the MacBook Air are delayed. The Apple website shows a timeline of July 15-22.

The MacBook Air M1 is also available at a deal price of Rs 92,900 on Amazon India, Flipkart and Croma for those who want to get it at a slightly lower price. Vijay Sales is offering the best deal at the moment and the price shows Rs 90,990 for this variant. The 512GB variant is listed at Rs 1,13,500 on Amazon India, while on Flipkart the price is Rs 1,12,490.

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The MacBook Air M2 is starting at a price of Rs 1,19,900 for the base 8GB RAM+256GB SSD version. This variant has an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU. You can get the 10-core GPU option by paying Rs 10,000 extra on the Apple website in the customisation option. The 512GB storage option has a price of Rs 1,49,900 with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU. One can also bump up the RAM to 16GB for another Rs 20,000, while the 24GB RAM option will cost Rs 40,000 extra. The price will be Rs 1,59,900 for the M2 with 256GB storage and 24GB RAM.

These customization options are available on the Apple website. But keep in mind that Apple is currently not showing a delivery timeline for these. The laptops will only be available next month.

The new MacBook Air comes in different color options, including a new Midnight one. (Image credit: Apple)

Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: Difference in the two chipsets

The MacBook Air’s biggest change is the new M2 chipset from Apple. According to Apple, M2 is built using the second-generation 5-nanometer technology, and it can now support 24GB of RAM. The M1 was limited to 16GB of maximum RAM support. Apple also claims that M2 has a faster CPU and GPU compared to the previous M1. The M2 consists of 20 billion transistors, while the M1 had a 16 billion comparison, though it was also built on the 5-nm design. Apple says that the “additional transistors” on M2 “improve features across the entire chip, including the memory controller that delivers 100GB/s of unified memory bandwidth”.

With the MacBook Air M2, Apple is promising more power, especially for video and photo editing. (Image source: Apple)

Apple claims the M2 is more power-efficient compared to the previous gen, despite being a more powerful chipset. It claims that “M2 delivers the peak performance of the PC chip while using just a quarter of the power.” While the M1 came with a 7-core or 8-core GPU, the M2 comes with an 8-core or 10-core GPU option.

The M2 is also coming with some custom technologies. This includes a more powerful Neural engine compared to the M1. The dedicated Media engine also includes “includes a higher-bandwidth video decoder, supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC video,” according to Apple. It also comes with a ProRes video engine which is capable of handling multiple streams of both 4K and 8K video. It also comes with a new “image signal processor (ISP)” for better image noise reduction. The M2 might be better suited to those who wish to use the laptop for intensive video/photo editing. Of course, the M1 can still handle those tasks, but the M2 has an edge.

The MacBook Air M2 also gets the MagSafe charging back. (Image credit: Apple)

Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: Design difference, other specifications

The MacBook Air M2 also has a different design and color options compared to the older M1 MacBook Air. The older MacBook Air comes in Space Gray, Silver and Gold color options, while the M2 has Midnight (black), Starlight (gold), Space Gray and Silver options. If you look at the dimensions, both are very similar, though the M2 MacBook Air is slightly lighter at 1.24 kg compared to the 1.29 kg weight of the M1 version. The new variant is also thinner at 1.13 cm thickness compared to the M1 which was nearly 1.61 cm in thickness at its maximum.

The M2 MacBook Air has a notch style display. The top bezel is thinner compared to the previous version. Apple has also integrated the speakers in the space between the keyboard and display. In contrast, the MacBook Air M1 has speakers on either side of the keyboard.

Apple’s MacBook Air M2 gets an improved FaceTime camera as well. (Image via Apple)

The display is also slightly bigger at 13.6-inches compared to the 13.3-inches on the M1. The display also has 500 nits brightness compared to the 400 nits on the previous one. Other specifications are mostly the same, though the pixel count on the M2 is at 2560 x 1664 compared to the 2560×1600 on the M1. The M1 and M2 both have Touch ID as an option and come with a maximum of 2TB storage option. The M1 is limited to 16GB max RAM, while on the M2 it can go up to 24GB.

The M2 laptop comes with a MagSafe Charging option, along with two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports. The M1 has only Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports in comparison and relies on Type-C charging. So if one port is occupied by the charger, the number of open ports was limited on the older variant. The M2 MacBook Air continues with the 3.5 mm headphone jack as the M1, but the port now had “advanced support for high-impedance headphones.”

The MacBook Air M2 now also includes support for Spatial Audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos on built-in speakers. It also includes support for Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking when using AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. These features are not part of the older M1. The M2 also continues with the fanless design of the M1. Apple also has improved the web camera on this.

The M2 now comes with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera and also has an advanced image signal processor with computational video to ensure better video quality. The older MacBook has a 720p one and the web camera is a weak point of the device. However, macOS Ventura will let users convert their iPhone into a web camera.

The MacBook Air M2 has a slightly larger 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery compared to the 49.9-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery. However, the video playback time is similar for both at 18 hours. But the new MacBook Air M2 also gets faster charging at 67-W USB-C, though the charger will have to be purchased separately. Apple is also adding a 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter for 10-core GPU and 512GB storage option. This will let users charge their iPhone or watch along with the laptop from one charger.

Apple MacBook Air M1 vs MacBook Air M2: Which is the right pick?

It really depends on your needs. The M1 MacBook Air remains just as capable though it does not come with the latest processor. If your budget is under Rs 1 lakh, the M1 is the obvious choice and you can get it from Amazon or Flipkart. Though, it does have a waitlist on the official Apple website.

The MacBook Air M2 is geared for those who need some more power in a slimmer form factor. This might be better suited for those with video, and photo editing needs. But remember, the exact delivery time is not clear yet, and it will only be available next month. If you are willing to wait for the next MacBook Air and want the latest specifications, then the M2 will be your ideal choice.

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