MacBook Air M2 hands-on: Bye-bye wedge

At WWDC today, Apple not only unveiled its new M2 Silicon, but also a pair of devices that will be equipped with it — the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. Though most of the Pro seems similar to older models, the Air is also getting a redesign, making it thinner and lighter than before. It also comes in four colors and sports a new, squarish look. I was able to quickly play with the new Air today at Apple Park, and so far, I’m just glad it looks noticeably different, given it’s been four years since Apple last redesigned the MacBook Air..

Of the four colors the Air now comes in, my personal favorite is Midnight, which is a deep blue. Our editor-in-chief, who attended the event with me, also preferred that hue. The silver and space grey models are very familiar, while starlight did not stand out to me.

If you’re a fan of Apple’s distinct wedge design on previous MacBooks, you might be concerned about the new, squarer look. I didn’t mind it — I actually prefer the refresh since the older aesthetic feels pretty outdated to me by now. It’s similar to the new MacBook Pros, though, so if you liked those you’ll appreciate this. Just like the recent Pros, too, the new Air has a fullsize row of physical function keys. At the right end of this sits the power button with a Touch ID sensor. Dana is a fan of the groove here, which makes it easy to tell by touch where you should lay your finger. It also doesn’t have a glossy finish that would attract fingerprints. 

Importantly, the new MacBook Air has a larger 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, up from the last model’s 13.3-inch Retina display. This made the photo that was being edited on some of the demo units look bright and crisp. The new Air goes up to 500 nits of brightness, compared to 400 nits before, and is just about 64 pixels taller. 

I also liked the quality of the webcam’s feed when I opened up the FaceTime app, though I didn’t actually snap a picture or spend too much time scrutinizing my face.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Of course, the quality has a lot to do with the improved webcam, which is now 1080p (as opposed to 720p before). Again, I didn’t actually take a call or get enough time with the device so I can’t tell you if it’s significantly better than before. 

I can tell you that I definitely noticed the new notch that houses the camera. Again, this is similar to the recent MacBook Pros and has been a polarizing feature since its introduction. My colleague Devindra Hardawar, who reviewed the MacBook Pros, did not mind it and I’m inclined to agree with him. Though I thought the notch was oddly tall, it didn’t extend beyond macOS’ title bar, ending just a bit before its bottom boundary. 

This story is developing, please refresh for updates.

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