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Apple's new MacBook Air: Is the jump to M2 silicon worth another $200?

The faithful won't care either way but advances aren't earth-shattering

Comment Apple's new M2 MacBook Air is available to order, but is it just a case of M1 + 1 = $200?

Or £250 if one is shopping in the UK.

After much fanfare but relatively little innovation at the company's WWDC event in June, the redesigned MacBook Air is here, complete with Apple's latest and greatest processor and a hefty premium over the M1 model.

The M1 Model (with 8GB RAM and 256GB of SSD storage) goes for $999 (£999 in the UK store). The new M2 Model (with 8GB RAM and 256GB of SSD storage) hits the shelves today for $1,199 (an inexplicable £1,249 for UK punters).

While we have no doubt Apple fanatics will be reaching for their credit cards, it's worth taking a step back and considering what you're actually getting for that extra $200: 0.3 more inches of screen real estate, a 1080p FaceTime camera (up from the previous 720p unit), and spatial audio. Oh, and it's a bit lighter - 1.24kg instead of 1.29kg.

The memory can go up to 24GB rather than 16GB, but since there is no upgrade path after purchase, it's pretty meaningless (and at a significant outlay per 8GB, rather expensive too).

So after fripperies such as a breathed-over case, decent sized Touch ID button, and MagSafe connector (although Apple has tossed regulators a bone with USB-C charging), what is that hefty premium getting you? Apple reckons the M2 chip will make it all worthwhile.

And goodness, Apple does like a statistic or two: "40 percent faster" in Final Cut Pro, "20 percent faster" when applying filters and effects in PhotoShop. All for a mere extra $200. Battery life at 18 hours is unchanged.

There's no doubt that Apple's M2 is an impressive bit of silicon, but does it really merit such a leap in price from the previous generation? On a device like the MacBook Air, not really. Unless you simply must have slimmer bezels and would like a notch at the top of your screen, the M1 model looks the better bet (particularly since the RAM can be doubled before a user reaches the lofty peaks of M2 pricing).

By keeping the M1 version ticking over just a little longer, Apple still has a MacBook available for a gnat's whisker less than $1,000. By doing so, however, it invites a potentially unflattering comparison between the two.

And we're not sure the improvements justify the handing over of so much extra cash. ®

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