Hardware

Computer | Notebook

Long-term Field Test 08.08.2022 to date


Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022)

Photo: original box Apple MacBook Air M2, colour polar star, top side

Photo: original box Apple MacBook Air M2, colour polar star, top side

Review of my second MacBook Air

I hope you enjoy reading it!

Purchasing

24.07.2022: Order from Apple's online shop:
MacBook Air with M2 Chip – colour polar star
With the following configuration:
Apple M2 Chip with 8-Core CPU, 10‑Core GPU and 16‑Core Neural-Engine
24 GB shared memory
2 TB SSD storage
13.6" Liquid Retina Display with True Tone
1080p FaceTime HD Camera
MagSafe-3 Charging connector
Two Thunderbolt/USB-4 ports
35 W dual USB-C port power adapter
Illuminated Magic Keyboard with Touch ID – German
Accessory kit
Price: 2,999.00 EUR

Polishing cloth. Price: 25.00 EUR

27.07.2022: Pickup parcel with Polishing cloth at DHL Packstation.

08.08.2022: UPS delivers Apple MacBook Air M2.

Equipment

  • Apple MacBook Air with macOS Monterey 12.5
  • 35 watt power adapter with two USB-C sockets
  • USB-C to MagSafe-3 cable
  • Notes and brochures for first steps and guarantee

Photo: Apple MacBook Air M2 in opened box

Photo: Apple MacBook Air M2 in opened box (my Google Pixel 7 Pro is reflected in Apple's logo)

Photo: opened box, MacBook Air M2 removed. View of the rest of the delivery. That's all!

Photo: Box opened, MacBook Air M2, power adapter + USB-C cable already taken out. That's all!

Tech Specs

Colour: Polar Star (also available in Midnight Blue and Silver)
Storage capacity: 2 TB (also available with 512 GB and 1 TB)

Dimensions and weight:
Height: 1.13 cm (measured without rubber feet)
Width: 30.41 cm
Depth: 21.5 cm
Weight: 1.24 kg

Display

Liquid Retina Display
13.6" Display (34.46 cm diagonal) with LED backlighting and IPS technology.
Native resolution: 2560 × 1664 Pixel, 224 ppi,
Support for one billion colours
Brightness: 500 nits
Colour space: P3
True Tone technology

Processor

Apple Silicon M2

Working Memory (RAM)

tested version: 24 GB
also available with: 8 or 16 GB (not expandable!)

Storage

Tested version: 2 TB SSD on PCIe basis
Also available with: 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB SSD

Connections

MagSafe 3 charging port
3.5 mm headphone jack
Two Thunderbolt/USB-4 ports with support for:
• Charging
• DisplayPort
• Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40 Gbit/s)
• USB 4 (up to 40 Gbit/s)
• USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbit/s)

Wireless Technologies

WLAN

802.11ax WLAN 6
compatible with IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 5.0

Audio

  • 4-speaker system
  • wide stereo sound
  • 3D audio when playing music/video with Dolby Atmos on the built-in speakers
  • 3D audio w. dynamic head tracking when listening with AirPods (3. Gen.), AirPods Pro/AirPods Max
  • Ring of three microphones with directional beamforming
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack with support for high impedance headphones

Audio Playback

Supported audio formats: AAC-LC, HE-AAC, HE-AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), Dolby Atmos and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX and AAX+).

TV and Video

Unterstützte Videoformate: HEVC, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2 and Motion JPEG
High Dynamic Range (HDR) with Dolby Vision, ProRes HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG
AirPlay Mirroring, photos and video output to Apple TV (2nd generation or newer).

Power Adapter

• Integrated lithium polymer battery with 52.6 watt hours
• 30-Watt USB-C power adapter (entry-level 8-core CPU model)
• 35-watt dual USB-C port power adapter (10-core GPU + 512 GB memory)
• 35-watt dual USB-C port power adapter (optional on entry-level model)
• USB-C to MagSafe 3 cable
• Fast charging only with the 67 watt USB-C power adapter

Both USB-C ports on the MacBook Air support Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 for battery charging as well.

According to Apple

  • up to 18 hrs. of movie playback with the Apple TV app
  • up to 15 hrs wireless surfing

Practice

Battery Performance

Battery Life, Battery Saving, Charging Time

Battery Life (Time between two Charges)

Very individually different depending on use, hardly comparable.

Little use: possibly x days (check mail daily, visit some Websites). Not tested, as the following applies better to me:
Heavy use: x h (emails, 5 h listening to music, reading a book [Amazon Kindle Edition], maintaining this website, web research and editing photos for new reviews).

Battery Saving

To protect the non-self-replaceable battery, I rarely push it to its limits, as this wears it out unnecessarily.
I charge it when there is about 30% charge remaining.

If you always leave the battery almost empty and only then charge it to 100%, you are stressing it and using up a full charging cycle.

The charging electronics of current devices switch to direct power supply from the power adapter after reaching 100% to protect the battery.
I have only just learnt this and therefore no longer disconnect devices from the power adapter at 65–70% if I use them for more hours at home.

Charging Time

Charging on 35 W power adapter: 1 h
(at 30 % remaining charge up to 70 %)

Sleep Mode

As soon as I set up the MacBook for the first time, I set it so that switching off/closing the display in battery mode activates the sleep mode.

Last night (09.09.2023) I flipped the display shut with about 40 ℅ charge left and went to sleep. Normally, my MacBook consumes max. 1 % energy overnight in this mode!
10.09.2023: When I wanted to use the device again today, the battery was obviously flat, because the display only went on briefly and then immediately went off again.
I quickly plugged in the MagSafe charging cable, but its LED only lit up orange briefly and went off – since then the MacBook has been unusable.
I now leave it connected to the power adapter in the hope that the battery can be recharged and that it will only take longer than normal …

11.09.2023: Tonight, the condition of the MacBook is unchanged, so I disconnect the MagSafe connector briefly and reconnect it.
– The orange LED turns on! The MacBook is booting! Smiley
Hooray, it's working normally again; the battery is charging and I can update this test report on the big screen. Smiley

13.09.2023: In the evening, while watching a podcast, I forget to plug in the MagSafe connector while the battery status message says “20 % remaining charge”. Before I can plug in the MagSafe charging cable, the MacBook turns off and is unusable again. I now leave the MagSafe charging cable plugged in and hope for the best …

16.09.2023: Finally! Tonight the LED on the MagSafe plug is lit again (orange) and the screen shows the symbol of an almost completely empty battery without booting the system after I hold down the power button for 10 seconds. I had tried this several times a day without success (and pressed it briefly once for another 10 seconds each time). About 1 h later, the battery is ready to boot macOS 13.5.2. The battery indicator thereafter shows 1 %.

Music Player? Portable HiFi System!

With high-quality headphones, you get high-end quality.
Through the built-in speakers, the sound reproduction is better than most other notebooks on the world market, but not world class.
The speakers of the MacBook Pro models are still a little better.
But the reproduction is clear and undistorted.
The sound quality of the speakers is also sufficient for feature films.
Until I bought the AirPods Pro, I also listened to music through them.

For full music enjoyment with optimal bass and dynamic range, I used to use the Sony MDR-EX90LP in-ear headphones.
These in-ear headphones in studio monitor quality offer a quite undistorted reproduction.

Apple AirPods Pro (2. Generation)

23.09.2022: Immediately after receiving the AirPods Pro, I listen to the 2nd track from my favourite album “The Best Of The Art Of Noise (1992)”: Yebo (Mbaqanga Mix). Also suitable for testing the low bass reproduction!
Further play tip: 7th track: Legacy.
Because it all sounds even better than with the Sony in-ears, I listen to the whole album straight through and then another album by Art Of Noise: “And What Have You Done With My Body, God?”

This is synthesiser sound at its best, which is not ideal for testing the sound quality of a music player. Electronic music sounds good on any device. But I know the above-mentioned favourite album inside out and have listened to it very often on various MP3 players (encoding with constant quality; dynamic data rate up to max. 320 kbit/s).

To objectively test the sound quality, I use music tracks with acoustic instruments and frequently heard musicians' voices.
The listening test CD “Stakkato” from the hi-fi magazine Audio was also very helpful in objectively testing the acoustics.

Linear-smooth Frequency Response

The Apple MacBook Air M2 can show that it has a ruler-like frequency response right down to the low bass range. Otherwise the bass would not be so abysmally deep, undistorted and clear (unfortunately I cannot measure it).

The signal-to-noise ratio is also excellent. By the way: because Apple devices have extremely low latency, they are very popular by musicians and DJs.

macOS Versions and Updates documented

  • 08.08.2022 ex works delivered with macOS Monterey 12.5
  • 17.08.2022: macOS Monterey 12.5.1
  • 12.09.2022: macOS Monterey 12.6
  • 24.10.2022: macOS Ventura 13
  • 09.11.2022: macOS Ventura 13.0.1
  • 13.12.2022: macOS Ventura 13.1
  • 23.01.2023: macOS Ventura 13.2
  • 13.02.2023: macOS Ventura 13.2.1
  • 27.03.2023: macOS Ventura 13.3
  • 07.04.2023: macOS Ventura 13.3.1
  • 18.05.2023: macOS Ventura 13.4
  • 21.06.2023: macOS Ventura 13.4.1
  • 10.07.2023: macOS Ventura 13.4.1 (a) Rapid Security Response
  • 12.07.2023: macOS Ventura 13.4.1 (c) Rapid Security Response
  • 24.07.2023: macOS Ventura 13.5
  • 17.08.2023: macOS Ventura 13.5.1
  • 07.09.2023: macOS Ventura 13.5.2
  • 21.09.2023: macOS Ventura 13.6
  • 26.09.2023: macOS Sonoma 14.0
  • 25.10.2023: macOS Sonoma 14.1
  • 07.11.2023: macOS Sonoma 14.1.1
  • 30.11.2023: macOS Sonoma 14.1.2
  • 11.12.2023: macOS Sonoma 14.2
  • 19.12.2023: macOS Sonoma 14.2.1
  • 22.01.2024 macOS Sonoma 14.3
  • 09.02.2024 macOS Sonoma 14.3.1

Software

Preinstalled Software

  • Photos
  • iMovie
  • GarageBand
  • Pages
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • Siri
  • Safari
  • Mail
  • FaceTime
  • Messages
  • Maps
  • Stocks
  • Home
  • Voice Memos
  • Notes
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Reminders
  • Photo Booth
  • Preview
  • Books
  • App Store
  • Time Machine
  • TV
  • Music
  • Podcasts
  • Where is?
  • QuickTime Player

App Store

Apple's App Store is pre-installed. There is a large selection of software for many purposes. As far as possible, software should be obtained from the App Store for security reasons, because it is checked and digitally signed. The origin is therefore secured. However, Apple only checks software for harmlessness, not for functionality! This should be taken into account when choosing software.

Highly recommended Apps in the App Store

  • 1Blocker Ad blocker by Salavat Khanov, well-known by the iPhone version
  • Battery Monitor by Marcel Bresink Software-Systeme
  • Bitwarden Password vault by Bitwarden Inc
  • iMazing HEIC Converter by DigiDNA
  • Strongbox Password vault by Phoebe Code Limited, well-known by the iPhone version
  • StuffIt Expander 16 by Smith Micro Software, Inc.

Highly recommended Apps directly from the Developer

  • FileZilla FTP Client Developer version by the Mozilla Foundation
  • iMazing “administrative power package for iOS” by DigiDNA
  • Thunderbird E-Mail Client by the Mozilla Foundation
  • Tuta Desktop by Tuta

I have already been able to test and evaluate some software. You can find these and later reviews at Software.

Superbly crafted Hardware

Audiophile Features

The audio quality is excellent! The frequency response is from 18 Hz to 19 kHz, as if drawn with a ruler – and the headphone output is hardly any different!

Flat Aluminium Housing

The excellently crafted housing feels very good.

The high-resolution 13.6-inch Display shows Photos and Text sharply

I like to watch my TV series on this screen.

Apple Silicon M2

Ein MacBook Air M2 ist nicht nur für die übliche Büroarbeit geeignet!
Das Öffnen vieler anspruchsvoller Webseiten bringt den M2-Prozessor nicht gleich ins Schwitzen.
Auch beim Aufräumen der Festplattensammlung und Verschieben vieler Dateien bleibt das Aluminiumgehäuse kühl.
Bei hochsommerlichem Klima mit Innenraumtemperaturen um 28 °C. wurde das Alugehäuse bei einer stundenlangen Backup-Aktion und gleichzeitigem Schrumpfen tausender Bilddateien mittels der App ImageOptim von Kornel Lesiński handwarm.

The action lasted for hours only because the USB hard drive WD Elements 5 TB used is extremely slow.
The WD Blue SATA SSD 4 TB was unfortunately already completely full and so this time the USB hard drive had to serve as a backup.

Touch ID – Unlocking becomes convenient

The password only needs to be entered after switching on and booting up your MacBook. The corresponding fingerprint is sufficient to unlock the screen.

The webcam has been significantly improved

On the MacBook Air (2020) the webcam was bad, but on the current model the quality of the webcam is higher. Not really great, but you will no longer arouse pity in video conferences.
Since I don't like video chats, the quality of the webcam is enough for me.

Pros

  • absolutely flawless processing quality
  • 100% recycled aluminium without compromising stability or finish
  • very efficient coordination of software and hardware
  • Hard disk encryption efficiently implemented and easy to use (key ring)
  • easy-to-use Time Machine backup software constantly creates backups so that as little as possible is missing in an emergency
  • outstandingly good acoustics for music reproduction with linear smooth frequency response from 18 Hz to almost 20,000 Hz
  • Reliability and stability of the operating system – no crashes or unwanted reboots since initial operation
  • Storage with secure hardware encryption
  • Touch ID quickly unlocks MacBook, can also be used for App Store purchases (only if desired)
  • very good keyboard with good pressure point
  • Keyboard settings such as shortcuts and intelligent word suggestion algorithm are synchronised with the iPhone
  • Display with excellent performance in resolution, brightness and colour fidelity - but not the whole P3 colour space
  • also available with 16 GB or 24 GB RAM, at least 16 GB recommended!
  • Safari web browser with very fast page loading and excellent developer menu (including simulation of various screen sizes)
  • ideal for test report writers like me: good screenshot functions implemented directly in macOS!
  • no bloatware ex works

Cons

  • everything is soldered, nothing expandable
  • Models with a storage size suitable for everyday use and future-proof are extremely expensive (2 TB is a must because of the lack of expandability, 1 TB is also sufficient if necessary, but 512 GB is too little!)
  • No exchangeable battery – battery cannot be exchanged by the customer without tinkering and loss of warranty
  • Apple's messenger iMessage should be urgently reprogrammed, because the code is susceptible to attacks and is only ever patched up by Apple in a makeshift way

Conclusion

Highly recommended!
The MacBook Air M2 is not only useful for office work!

Compromise

If you often edit videos or do similarly demanding work, it's better to buy the MacBook Pro M2. The fanless MacBook Air M2 is not ideal for this, because its processor is slightly throttled after about ten minutes of such work due to heat development to protect the electronics. In the long run, this would shorten the life of the device. However, a MacBook Air M2 can take over such work when your Pro model fails and prevent production downtime.

Alternatives

Apple MacBook Pro

The processor is connected to a cooler via a heat pipe and the speakers are even better.

Apple's iPhone processor is now significantly more powerful than the mobile processors used in notebooks. All the engineers had to do was add more cores, a better graphics CPU, neural processing units and more memory and other notebook manufacturers hardly play a role in terms of performance …

Savings Tip: Apple's MacBook Air M1

More powerful than the older MacBook Pro. Hardly slower than a MacBook Pro M1 for image editing, rendering and video editing.

Price Tip: MacBook Air M1 with 8 GB RAM

In a long, detailed YouTube video, I saw the entry-level model being compared to a full-featured MacBook Air M1, and the YouTuber himself was very pleasantly surprised that the entry-level model was very easy to work with and didn't get hot or slow at all, without any active cooling!

But I would rather buy it with 16 GB RAM just to be on the safe side.
Even in macOS Ventura, the bug is still not fixed, which does not actually release freed memory. It brings up an error message every few days on models with 16 GB and even on the M2 with 24 GB RAM that “programs must be urgently terminated to ensure continued stable operation because macOS has no more free program memory”!
Do frequent users with 8 GB RAM get this message every day? Several times?
No one knows when Apple will fix the bug (That's not funny, Apple!).

More RAM is better for graphics processing and to operate virtual machines.
With little RAM, the operating system constantly swaps out parts of the programme to the SSD – in which case you should at least not skimp on this and choose at least (!) 512 GB of memory, because otherwise there will soon be no space for swapping out either and error messages will constantly appear or programmes will be forced to quit – or crash.
In addition, people tend to forget that sufficient storage space must also be available for operating system updates. This is because the installation of the update requires at least as much additional storage space as the current version already consumes. Only after the successful installation of a new operating system version is this storage space freed up again.

Reference

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