MacBook Air M2 vs 14-inch MacBook Pro: How do they compare?
After weeks of rumours, Apple officially announced the M2-powered MacBook Air 2022 at WWDC. Read on to find out how the laptop compares to Apple’s 14-inch MacBook Pro.
Before today’s 13-inch MacBook Pro announcement, Apple last updated its Pro line toward the end of 2021 when it unveiled a 14-inch and 16-inch model.
In our review, editor Max Parker called the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 the best Apple laptops he’d used in years, setting the high bar for any MacBooks that may follow – including the new Air.
Scroll down to discover how the MacBook Air M2 and the 14-inch MacBook Pro compare when it comes to price, design, display and specs.
Pricing and availability
The 14-inch MacBook Pro was released in October 2021 with prices starting at $1999/£1899.
The MacBook Air 2022 was announced at WWDC on June 6. It will be available from July 2022 at a price of $1199. That makes it $800 cheaper than the 14-inch Pro model.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro is the smallest of the two high-end MacBook Pros, with the bigger alternative being the 16-inch Pro. It comes in silver and grey finishes.
The 14-inch MacBook’s smaller size makes it the more portable option if you have no need for the 16-inch’s bigger display. However, we found the laptop was still a little thicker and heavier than its predecessors.
There are three Thunderbolt 4 ports, a HDMI 2.0 port and an SDXC card slot, meaning you won’t have to rely on a dongle to transfer photos from a camera. There’s also a MagSafe charging port and a headphone jack.
Our editor Max Parker found the Magic Keyboard on the Pro to be a joy to type on with plenty of travel and well-sized backlit keys.
The MacBook Air M2, meanwhile, is designed to be lightweight and portable. At 11.3mm thin and 2.7lb in weight, it has 20% less volume than the previous Air. It also features a silent, fan-less design.
The Air comes in four colours – silver, space grey, starlight and midnight – and features two Thunderbolt ports, an audio jack and a MagSafe charging port. Unlike the Pro, there’s no HDMI or SDXC card slot.
Like the Pro, the Air features Apple’s Magic Keyboard with support for Touch ID.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro has a Mini LED Liquid Retina XDR display capable of delivering a constant 1000 nits of brightness, or 1600 nits with HDR content. We found that blacks were deep and inky and the image sharp and detailed.
The screen has a resolution of 3024 x 1964 and supports Apple’s 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate. It’s adaptive too, meaning it can fluctuate depending on whether the app or content you’re running requires a speedy refresh rate or would be better off saving battery life.
There’s a notch for the webcam, but it tends to disappear into the status bar and is covered by the black bars when streaming video.
The MacBook Air 2022 features a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display with a notch, and a resolution that can reach 500 nits of brightness and one billion colours for more vibrant photos and movies. While this is a big leap over the MacBook Air M1, the screen still isn’t as bright as the 1000-nit display on the Pro.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro is powered by Apple Silicon or, more specifically, the M1 Pro or M1 Max (depending on which specs you opt for).
If you’re looking at the 14-inch Pro, the M1 Pro chip will come with an 8-core CPU, 14-core GPU, 16GB unified memory and a 512GB SSD.
You can also choose the M1 Max, which features either a 10-core CPU and 24-core GPU, or a 10-core CPU and a 32-core GPU, but you’ll have to pay £500-700 more for the chip depending on which one you’d like to power your laptop.
Regardless of the chip you opt for, we found the M1 Pro and M1 Max performance to be fantastic and a huge step beyond that offered by the M1.
The battery life on the 14-inch MacBook Pro is solid, but not as long as that on the M1 MacBook Air. It also depletes faster with intensive tasks, as you might expect. The 1080p webcam, meanwhile, is an improvement over the 720p one found in the M1 Air, especially in low-light environments.
The MacBook Air 2022 is powered by the newly-announced M2 chip, which enters Apple’s MacBook line as the successor to the M1.
The M2 packs an 8-core CPU, up to 10-core GPU, up to 24GB of memory and up to 2TB SSD. It also offers performance upgrades over the M1, including 20% faster filter and effect applications in Photoshop and 40% faster video editing, though it sits below the M1 Pro and M1 Max in terms of power.
The battery life is the same as its predecessor, meaning it should be longer than the Pro, and there’s support for MagSafe and 67W fast charging, too. The laptop has also been given a 1080p camera this time around, offering improvements in resolution and low-light environments that should help it better compete with the camera on the Pro.
The MacBook Air 2022 brings the Air closer in line with the Pro by adding features like a Liquid Retina Display, a 1080p camera, a faster chipset and MagSafe charging. It isn’t quite as powerful as the Pro and the display isn’t as bright, but you’ll have to check back in when we share our full review to find out how the MacBook Air 2022 performs in the real world.