MacBook Pro M2 1

Apple made a big deal of the new MacBook Air 2022 at its Worldwide Developers Conference the week of June 6, and rightfully so. It comes with a gorgeous redesign and a bigger display, and it promises killer performance, thanks to its new M2 processor.

After that breathless presentation, the company’s new M2 MacBook Pro barely got a passing mention by comparison. And after looking at what each machine offers side by side, it’s easy to see why.

The M2 MacBook Pro seems to be an extremely subtle upgrade, one that offers few advantages over the M2 MacBook Air while costing $100 more. We’ll have to spend serious time with both of these laptops to see which one offers the better value, but here’s why we think most people can skip the new $1,299 MacBook Pro M2 and go with the $1,199 MacBook Air M2.

MacBook Air M2 vs. MacBook Pro M2 at a glance


Apple M2

Apple M2


8GB / 16GB / 24GB

8GB / 16GB / 24GB


256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD

256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD


13.6 inch, 2560 x 1664 Liquid Retina display

13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600 Retina display


1080p FaceTime HD camera

720p FaceTime HD camera


Four-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio support

Stereo speakers with Spatial Audio support


Magic Keyboard with physical function keys

Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar


Thunderbolt USB 4 (2), MagSafe charging port

Thunderbolt USB 4 (2)

Internal fan



Price $1,199 $1,299

The new MacBook Air gives you more for less

The MacBook Air M2.

After looking at the M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro’s spec sheets, you might be scratching your head over why the latter costs $100 more. The latest MacBook Air sports a slightly larger and more advanced Liquid Retina display, a sharper 1080p webcam and a four-speaker sound system that doubles what you get on the Pro. It also packs Apple’s new take on the beloved MagSafe charging port, which allows the charging cable to easily and safely detach in the event someone trips on the wire. And while the M2 MacBook Pro is still clinging to the pesky Touch Bar that we’ve never found particularly useful, the M2 Air packs a traditional row of physical function keys to simply make quick adjustments on the fly.

In fact, the M2 MacBook Air basically takes everything we loved about the new 14-inch MacBook Pro’s design and shrinks it down into a smaller, more affordable package aimed at the mainstream. By comparison, the M2 MacBook Pro simply slaps a more powerful processor into the same exact 13-inch body we last saw in late 2020.

The MacBook Air M2.

The new M2 Air also gives you more options for expressing yourself than any other MacBook. While the latest Air and Pro both come in silver and Space Gray, only the M2 Air offers a gold-like Starlight and a blackish-blue Midnight, the latter of which looks especially stunning in person. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the M2 Air is slightly thinner and lighter than the M2 Pro.

But given its higher price and “Pro” branding, surely the new MacBook Pro has to perform better, right? Not necessarily. Both of these 13-inch machines are powered by the same exact Apple M2 processor, which promises 18% better overall performance and up to 35% better graphics performance compared to the M1 MacBooks that launched a few years ago. In other words, the new Air and Pro should both be absurdly fast, and in brief demos during Apple’s WWDC conference, I watched both of them juggle tons of apps and multiple streams of high-resolution video with ease. You won’t be skimping on memory or storage by going with the cheaper M2 Air either, as both machines max out at 24GB of RAM and can be outfitted with up to a 2TB solid-state drive (SSD).

The M2 MacBook Pro’s advantages aren’t worth the extra cash

The MacBook Pro M2.

The M2 MacBook Pro does have some slight advantages over the M2 Air — at least in theory. The biggest difference is the Pro’s internal fan, while the Air’s fanless design allows it to stay whisper quiet under a heavy workload. But the Pro’s more dynamic thermals mean that it can theoretically perform at its best for longer periods of time without overheating. That being said, we didn’t notice a big difference in temperatures when putting the M1 MacBook Air and M1 MacBook Pro through similarly demanding workloads, so the M2’s fan is only worth considering for things like high-res video editing or long hours of detailed 3D rendering.

The new MacBook Pro is also rated for slightly more battery life than the Air, at 20 hours versus 18 hours. We’ll have to put those claims to the test for ourselves, and your runtime will likely vary based on what you’re using these laptops for. But since both notebooks promise to last through multiple workdays’ worth of use, we don’t see the two-hour difference as significant.

Finally, if you’re in the minority of folks who actually like the Touch Bar, the M2 MacBook Pro may be the better choice. While this touch-sensitive strip at the top of many older Macs has long been criticized by reviewers and everyday users alike, it does have some unique capabilities that could be useful for certain creative types. The Touch Bar lets you do things like finely comb through videos with your fingers, make detailed track adjustments in GarageBand and take advantage of iPhone-style predictive text to write out messages and documents faster. It can also do a lot if you’re willing to dig into it, but I’ll take a physical set of buttons that lets me adjust brightness, volume and media playback with a single click any day. And judging by the fact that Apple is phasing the Touch Bar out of every other MacBook, I can’t be the only one.

Bottom line

The MacBook Pro M2.

Taken on its own, the M2 MacBook Pro isn’t a bad laptop. It keeps the same excellent screen and keyboard we loved on the 2020 model, packs a new M2 processor that should run circles around many of the best laptops and is reasonably priced for a MacBook at $1,299. The problem is, the MacBook Air has gotten so good that it practically renders the 13-inch Pro obsolete.

By offering the same processor with a better display, webcam and set of speakers for $100 less, the new MacBook Air seems like the best MacBook for the vast majority of people looking to buy an M2-powered Apple laptop. You’ll get more optimal cooling and the promise of slightly better battery life on the M2 Pro, but we don’t think those perks outweigh the M2 Air’s superior design.

And if you do need best-of-the-best performance — and aren’t on a strict budget — you’re better off springing for the $1,999 14-inch MacBook Pro, which has the same modernized design as the M2 Air but within an even bigger body that houses more ports, your choice of an extra-beastly M1 Pro or M1 Max processor and a fan for when things get heavy. There’s never been a better time to buy a MacBook — just make sure you don’t settle for one that’s already dated.