MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro (2022): Which should you buy?

Someone holding the M2 Macbook Air in Midnight up to the camera against a light surface.
M2 Macbook Air Midnight Closed (Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

There are so many MacBook models on the market now, including the brand new MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023) and MacBook Pro 16-inch (2023). There are also many upcoming models rumored to be arriving soon – we've got our eyes peeled for the 15-inch MacBook Air (2023). With all of this choice it can be hard to figure out which is the best MacBook for you. 

Luckily, we're here to help you compare all of the top models. In this guide we'll be putting two of the best MacBook models head-to-head: the MacBook Air with M2 vs. MacBook Pro (2022). Bear in mind this is the latest MacBook Air you can buy and the older model of the MacBook Pro that came out in 2022 – you can now get upgraded MacBook Pro models that arrived in 2023. Read more about this in our M2 MacBook Pro (2023) 14- and 16-inch guide.

So which MacBook is better, the MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro (2022)? In our opinion, the MacBook Air is the best choice for most people. This is because it's been updated with the new Apple M2 SoC, it's super lightweight and portable, and you get Touch ID without having the Touch Bar. The most significant difference, aside from cost, between the MacBook Air with M2 and the MacBook Pro with M2 is that you get slightly less battery life, BUT you do get a larger display. With that in mind, let's take a look at how these two top MacBooks compare.

MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro (2022): Breaking it down

Someone holding the MacBook Air 2022 up against a sandy surface.

Here's an initial shot we took of the MacBook Air 2022 when we had our first hands-on with the laptop. (Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

The 2022 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) are the first two MacBook models that have been updated to include Apple's M2 SoC. This is Apple's second generation of Apple silicon SoC (system on a chip) for the Mac. It's a successor to the M1, but the M2 improves performance per watt with an eighteen percent faster CPU, a thirty-five percent more powerful GPU, and a forty percent faster Neural Engine. Take a look at our Apple M2 chip guide to find out more. 

The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are very similar on the surface since they both have the 8-core M2 chip with four performance and four efficiency cores. In addition, they both start at 8GB of memory and go up to 24GB, plus they have a base point of 256GB of SSD storage that goes up to 2TB.

The MacBook Air also sports a bigger display and comes in more color choices, including the first time we've seen Midnight and Starlight shades available for MacBooks. There are a few more differences as well, which we'll break down below.

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SpecsMacBook Air (2022)MacBook Pro (2022)
CostFrom $1,199From $1,299
Display13.6-inch (diagonal) Liquid Retina display13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Space Gray
Space Gray
Resolution2560 by 1664 pixels2560 by 1600 pixels
SecurityTouch IDTouch Bar with Touch ID
CPU8-core M2 SoC8-core M2 SoC
GPUUp to 10-core10-core
Storage256GB SSD
Dimensions0.44 x 11.97 x 8.46 inches0.61 x 11.97 x 8.36 inches
Weight2.7 pounds3.0 pounds
Battery Life18 hours20 hours
Battery Adapters30W USB-C Power Adapter (included with M2 with 8-core GPU)
35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter (included with M2 with 10-core GPU and 512GB storage, configurable with M2 with 8-core GPU)
Fast-charge capable with available 67W USB-C Power Adapter
67W USB-C Power Adapter
PortsTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 portsTwo Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
Camera1080p FaceTime HD camera720p FaceTime HD camera

Regarding the MacBook Air vs. Pro, we recommend picking up the MacBook Air with M2 for most folks. That's because it has a slightly lower starting price point, while still giving you the latest and greatest with Apple's M2 chip, which outperforms the older Intel-based MacBooks.

A close-up of the MacBook Air 2022 keyboard

The MacBook Air 2022 is a real joy to use. (Image credit: iMore / Gerald Lynch)

The M2 chips have 8-cores, with four performance cores and four efficiency cores — this means you're getting blazing fast performance while not burning through the battery. 

While the MacBook Air with M2 is fanless, you won't have to worry about overheating thanks to the power efficiency cores. It starts at 8GB of memory (also found in the M2 chip), but you can bump it up to 24GB if you need to. Storage starts with a 256GB SSD that you can configure up to 2TB. You'll also get Touch ID for security biometrics without the Touch Bar that Apple never fully embraced.

A new addition for the MacBook Air we're comparing here is the 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, which offers thinner borders and more real estate than the previous model. The display is also 25% brighter than before and supports 1 billion colors. 

At the top center of the display is a 1080p FaceTime HD camera — another upgrade from the previous model and a step up from the Pro's 720p camera. 

This year's MacBook Air also brings back the beloved MagSafe, which gives users a dedicated charging port that's easy to connect and will quickly release if the cable is accidentially pulled. MagSafe was removed from MacBooks years ago, but finally returned in 2021 with the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, and now the 2022 MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro with M2 does not have MagSafe, instead opting for USB-C.

The 2022 MacBook Pro also has the Touch Bar with Touch ID, which can become an invaluable tool with some of the best Touch Bar apps

The MacBook Pro also has two more hours of battery life, clocking in at 20 hours on a full charge, whereas the MacBook Air with M2 lasts about 18 hours (real-life results may vary depending on usage). The Pro model also offers some increased GPU at the starting price point. Where the MacBook Air starts at 8GB, the Pro begins at 10GB.

MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro (2022): Which should you buy?

A close up of the 13-inch MacBook Pro (2022) with an animation of a girl with orange hair displayed on the screen.

We prefer the Air, but if you need more graphical power, you should consider the MacBook Pro with M2 (2022). (Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

For most people, the MacBook Air with M2 is the best option in the battle between the MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro (2022). 

The MacBook Air has the latest and greatest M2 chip from Apple, has blazing fast performance, and is even capable of running certain iOS apps because of the Apple silicon. The MacBook Air is also super lightweight, portable, and is the most affordable MacBook for the average person. You still get a Touch ID for biometrics without having a gimmicky Touch Bar. Although, for some people, not having a Touch Bar may be a con, depending on preference.

However, it's worth bearing in mind that if you need more graphical power for photo and video editing or the like, you should consider the MacBook Pro with M2 (2022) instead. That's because it offers a 10-core GPU for all models, whereas the Air starts with an 8-core GPU. And if you prefer to have the Touch Bar, then the Pro is the way to go.

If you can't decide between the MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro (2022) you may want to consider the newer MacBook Pro 14-inch (2023). Alternatively, it might be worth waiting to see what Apple has in store for us over the coming months. According to reports, the upcoming 15-inch MacBook Air may get a major M3 processor upgrade and could be arriving in late Spring 2023.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.