M2 Macbook Air vs M2 Macbook Pro

The price gap between the Macbook Air and MacBook Pro is now $100. You you 'upgrade' to the Macbook Pro or it is better else spent on the redesigned MacBook Air? Posted by erwinkarim on 9:23 AM, July 7, 2022 Last updated on 7:41 PM, July 13, 2022 Filed in: macbook air, macbook pro, m2, apple silicon, comparisons,

Apple is a company not only known for technological innovation and design, but also known for making controversial choices. The insistence of the lighting port when everyone is going USB-C, the deletion of the headphone jack, new computers that do not come with USB-A ports and new devices that do not come with power adapters.

However, the most recent controversial design Apple made in recent memory is introducing the new M2 MacBook Pro with the exact same design and price and the unveiling of the new M2 MacBook Air with pricing difference of just $100, a minuscule sum in the greater scheme of things.

We examine how the dynamics of both best-selling laptops goes and what it means for Apple in general.

MacBook Pro


We start by analyzing why you still want the M2 MacBook Pro despite the introduction of the MacBook Air.

Active Cooling: The only trump card that the MacBook Pro holds. In sustained workload, the MacBook Pro will not throttle down because it has a better cooling solution than the M2 MacBook Air which is passively cooled.

Better sounding speakers: Yes, the MacBook Air has a designed 4 speaker setup and brand new drivers, but there is no replacement for displacement. No matter how smart Apple engineers are, there is no way around physics. A bigger speaker cavity will ensure a deeper bass.

Higher base specs: While the MacBook Air is $100 cheaper, it has a weaker GPU while you’ll get the full blown SOC on the MacBook Pro

MacBook Air


At WWDC 2022, Apple marketed the MacBook Air as the $100 cheaper alternative of the MacBook Pro. That’s actually a misnomer. The new MacBook Air is actually the same price as the old MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air comes with a binned M2 which only 8 of the 10 GPU cores are activated. To have full 10-cores activated, you need to pay $100, which basically makes the M2 MacBook Air at the same price and general spec with the M2 MacBook Pro. Here’s what’s everything is better in the M2 MacBook Air:-

Thinner and lighter: The MacBook Air has always been a thinner alternative to the MacBook Pro. The idea is for casual work you’ll have the MacBook Air and for “serious” work, you’ll get the MacBook Pro.

The M1 and now the M2 basically flipped the script. The M2 is so powerful that it works for the 95% people out there, from doing presentations, streaming movies, writing emails, managing your small/medium enterprise (some manage a large enterprise using a MacBook Air).

Despite what a certain Youtuber says, you in most cases would not encounter that would throttle the M2 SOC and degrade performance to the point that it’s a less powerful laptop than the M1 that it replaces.


Physically, the both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro has the same chassis size, but the bezels on the MacBook Air is much smaller

Bigger Screen: Despite being smaller than the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air has a bigger, brighter and colorful screen than the MacBook Pro because the screen is stretched right to the edge. The bezels are smaller and you have the notch, which is the current iteration of Apple design for Macs.


The same upgraded webcam as in the new MacBook Pro is available on the MacBook Air

A proper webcam: One of the biggest gripes on the past MacBooks is the quality of the webcam. Now, the great pandemic has brought us the explosion of working remotely, having a good default webcam is now more important than ever and Apple has responded to the call. A full-HD 1080p webcam is miles ahead of the 720p webcam of yesteryear and with Apple’s clever software, it will be hard press to see the quality that comes out from a tiny hole in the screen.


Arguably, the lack of TouchBar made the keyboard better

Better peripherals: Both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air uses the same Magic Keyboard but the MacBook Air has actual function keys instead of the TouchBar. While the TouchBar is a very good addition to put on a keyboard, ultimately it wasn’t as useful as it was envisioned.

A better design: Apple’s idea of a professional is muted colors while the MacBook Air provides more color options (with more expected in the future). With color matching MagSafe cable


The MagSafe will keep your USB-C ports free when you are charging your MacBook Air

MagSafe: Yes, you can charge the MacBook Air using a USB-C, but the MagSafe has a lot of benefits. Fast charging for one, 50% charge in 30 minute is no mean feat. It also frees up another port for use while you are charging, you can’t say the same about the MacBook Air.

Pricing / Value: Yes, the new MacBook Air is at least $200 to $300 dearer than the M1 MacBook Air, but like all things electronics, expect the prices will come down in months or years to come. Apple will hold on to this design language for at least 5 years and if it proves to be a successful design (which I think it will be), the prices of the next generations of MacBook Air will go down as the initial massive investment on building the MacBook Air will pay itself.

Verdict

The verdict is simple: you should get the M2 MacBook Pro if you actually need a slightly better performance since it has better cooling and you actually love the MacBook Pro design (you know who you are). The MacBook Air is simply the better laptop in almost all aspect one can see


For all practical purpose, the MacBook Air is the better laptop for everyday carry. Photo credit: iMore

Why would Apple still field a M2 MacBook Pro when it is so obvious that the MacBook Air is superior in almost every way? There are various theories on it, but the most prominent one is asymmetric dominion effect or also known as the decoy effect. In other words, if you just selling a single laptop model, you present the potential customer with two choices: buy this laptop or don’t. But if you present this obviously better MacBook Air and pitted it against a deficient MacBook Pro, you put in the customer’s head that the M2 is a far better deal despite the Apple increased the MacBook Air prices by $200. The MacBook Pro is a decoy to help sell more MacBook Air.

For long term use, I would recommend getting a full spec M2 SOC, 16 GB of memory and 512 GB of storage. At current price, it would be $1,699 but if you can wait around 6-7 months for this, you can get it for $200-$300 cheaper.

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Comparison Table

Specs MacBook Air Macbook Pro
Size and Dimensions
Width (cm)30.4130.41
Height (cm)1.131.56
Depth (cm)21.5021.24
Weight (kg)1.241.4
General Specs
Storage (GB)256 to 2048
Memory (GB)8, 16 or 24
Audio
Speakers4-speaker setupStereo Speakers
Mics3-mic arrayStudio-quality 3-mic setup
Spatial AudioYes
Peripherals
CoolingpassiveActive
Keyboard78 keys, TouchID65, TouchID, Touch Bar
TrackPadForce Touch trackpadForce Touch with Multi-Touch gestures
TouchBarNoneYes
TouchIDYes
Display
Display Size13.6” LED-backlit13.3” LED-backlit
Display Resolution2560 x 16642560 x 1600
Max Brightness500
Camera1080p FaceTime HD720p FaceTime

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