What I want to see on the new MacBook Air

MacBook Air (2022) mockup
MacBook Air (2022) mockup (Image credit: Jon Prosser)

The best Mac for the past two years will undoubtedly change in the coming months when Apple launches the 2022 version of the MacBook Air. Largely expected to be the centerpiece of Apple's 2022 Mac lineup, the new laptop will likely be the first company product to feature an Apple "M2" system-on-a-chip, and, like the 2020 iPad Air and 2021 iMac before it, arrive with multiple color choices.

As noted on our MacBook Air (2022) rumors page, the new MacBook Air will probably feature a mini-LED and include MagSafe — just like the latest MacBook Pro that was released late last year. Beyond this, little is known about the 2022 MacBook Air, although I have some strong thoughts on what it should include.

The new lineup

The MacBook lineup currently features two 13-inch models, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro (M1, 2020). The former starts at $999 vs. $1,299 for the latter. For the extra $300, you get more battery life, a Touch Bar, and other goodies.

In 2022, the most obvious decision would be for Apple to remove the 13-inch MacBook Pro from the lineup when it introduces the new MacBook Air. That way, there'd be less confusion between the Air and Pro lines. Whether Apple does this remains to be seen, although last year's arrival of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro suggests it might. Those laptops feature new designs, more ports, and the removal of the Touch Bar. Assuming the new MacBook Air offers similar changes, the current 13-inch MacBook Pro would seem even more out of place than it already does.

A PRODUCT(RED) version would be terrific, as would a color choice that ties back to the iMac G3 days, such as Bondi Blue, Lime, or Blueberry.

In a perfect world, I'd love to see Apple bring back a 12-inch MacBook and make it the budget offering in the lineup, thereby shifting the MacBook Air into the center. By doing so, the available MacBooks in 2022 would be:

  • 12-inch MacBook (with M1)
  • 13-inch MacBook Air (with M2)
  • 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (with M1 Pro/M1 Max)

The Apple rumor mill has not yet mentioned a new 12-inch MacBook, so we'll probably be left with:

  • 13-inch MacBook Air (with M2)
  • 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (with M1 Pro/M1 Max)

Air vs. Pro

Regardless, Apple would be wise to distinguish the Air and Pro further. The original reason for the MacBook Air was its thinner form factor compared to other laptops in the lineup. Regretfully, Apple has emphasized this far less often in recent iterations, which never made sense, although that might change this year.

2021 Macbook Pro Back

2021 Macbook Pro Back (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

According to leaker Jon Prosser, the new Air won't include a wedge shape design, making it "an impossibly thin computer." Coupled with white keycaps for the first time and all those colors, the separation between the Air and Pro should be much more noticeable. So much so that entry-level 2021 MacBook Pro users might wish they would have waited it out for the new Air.

Beyond this, some cost-cutting differences are inevitable.

For example, although this year's MacBook Air is likely to pick up the MagSafe port from the MacBook Pro, Apple will probably hold off on adding ports that go beyond USB-C. The Air's trackpad is also supposed to be smaller compared to the Pro models. Finally, there are the internals. The 2022 MacBook Air's M2 SoC won't best the Pro's M1 Pro/M1 Max, and neither will its maximum specs. However, we will see some increases compared to the 2020 model. For example, the maximum storage available on this year's Air will probably fall between 2TB and 8TB, with the maximum memory at 32GB (versus the Pro model's 64GB).

About those colors

Apple's decision in recent years to move beyond silver and space gray as color choices for many of its products has been well received. In particular, I like how the company hasn't been afraid to slightly tweak a color or two from one device or generation to another. I hope Apple continues this trend for the MacBook Air, and I expect that it will.

Imac G3 Color Carousel

Imac G3 Color Carousel (Image credit: Apple)

Like the 24-inch iMac, the new MacBook Air will probably be available in seven or more color combinations, perhaps with some hues exclusive to the higher-priced options. I have no insider information, but a PRODUCT(RED) version would be terrific, as would a color choice that ties back to the iMac G3 days, such as Bondi Blue, Lime, or Blueberry.

Coming soon...

We should know soon enough about the specifics of the new MacBook Air. It's likely to be announced any time after March, perhaps alongside a new 27-inch iMac. Stay tuned!

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.