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Apple's New MacBook Air Adds Faster M2 Chip for $1,199

The refreshed MacBook Air has a new 13.6-inch display, a 1080p webcam and a completely fanless body. The cheaper M1 Air stays in the lineup, too.

Apple MacBook Air M2 2022 features
Screenshot by Josh Goldman/CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

A redesigned MacBook Air was one of the highlight announcements at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. The light MacBook, which hadn't been updated since late 2020, now gets the second-gen Apple Silicon chip, called the M2, a fanless body available in four colors and a new 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display. 

The new 13.6-inch MacBook Air for 2022 follows the design of the current MacBook Pro 14- and Pro 16-inch models released late last year. Like those, it has a chunkier, squared-off look that's almost retro-feeling instead of the gently curved lids tapering to a point that previously gave the Air more of a wedge shape.

The 2022 Air didn't receive all of the additional ports of the 2021 Pro models: There's no SD card slot, it doesn't get an HDMI output for an external display and it has just two USB-C Thunderbolt ports. However, the updated Air does have MagSafe charging. 

The new fanless body is available in four colors: silver, space gray, starlight and midnight. The laptop is just 11.3 millimeters thick and weighs only 2.7 pounds (1.2 kilograms). The new 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display is 25% brighter than its predecessor's screen, reaching 500 nits and support for 1 billion colors. 

Above the display is an updated 1080p camera joined by a three-mic array and a four-speaker sound system. This should all really improve video calls. Apple said it will also have support for Dolby Atmos spatial audio. The Magic keyboard has a full row of function keys with Touch ID as well as a large Force Touch trackpad. 

Apple said with the new M2 chip, Final Cut Pro performance is nearly 40% faster than on the M1 Air and Photoshop is up to 20% faster. Battery life is up to 18 hours of video playback and with an optional 67-watt power adapter it can charge up to 50% in 30 minutes. 

The redesigned M2 MacBook Air arrives in July starting at $1,199 (£1,249, AU$1,899) with the M2 with an eight-core CPU and eight-core GPU, 8GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive. A $1,499 version has an M2 chip with an eight-core CPU and 10-core GPU, 8GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. The M1 MacBook Air stays in the lineup as well for $999 (£999, AU$1,499). 

For more, check out everything Apple announced at WWDC, from MacOS Ventura to iOS 16. Plus, here's what you should know about the new MacBook Pro

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