Two new MacBooks were released by Apple last year. 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. Both powered by the new Apple silicon M2 chip, improved graphics and overall performance, and a special ProRes video engine for editing.
The price of these two Apple laptops is not much different, neither are their specifications, which produced quite a bit of confusion all over the internet. Let's see what are the differences between these two, and which MacBook is better for you to buy.
M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro Differences
Let's start with their performance. We tend to think that performance is what makes the MacBook Pro professional. But what does all the hard work, if not the chip? Now, technically, the chip is the same in both laptops, which makes the MacBook Air in no way inferior here.
A few things to note though.
First off, you should note that the basic version of the 13-inch Macbook Pro M2 is equipped with a 10-core GPU by default. Low end version of Macbook Air M2 is £100 cheaper (£1249 according to Apple website) but comes with an 8-core GPU. Which, if you want, can be configured to a 10-core version for an additional £100, making both laptops cost the same price.
But if you wish to save a bit and if graphics processing isn't that important for you, running at 80% of the M2 chip's potential won’t be a disadvantage at all. The performance of the MacBook Air M2 in its low end configuration is not only sufficient for work and browsing the Internet. It’s well capable of enthusiast video editing, graphic design, 3D modelling, and sound recording. For the vast majority of buyers and even professionals, this is the way to go.
Although considering all the above, there’s still one point that goes to the MacBook Pro M2.
In terms of performance, the MacBook Pro runs a little better and lasts longer, especially in tasks that hit the CPU for longer periods of time. All thanks to the fans, which are not included in the MacBook Air. Previously, M1 generation MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs had more noticeable differences in that sense. Now Apple has worked well on the new gen MacBooks Airs, making them perform great even when they get pretty hot.
You can check out the processor of any of our refurbished MacBooks Pro.
Display and Chassis
The displays on both laptops are great. Both use top technologies, bright and with crisp, vivid colours. However, the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 does still use an older LED-backlit Retina display from the previous generation. MacBook Air has been given a slightly bigger and updated Liquid Retina screen. Technically, both are still IPS LED-backlit screens, and shouldn’t be compared to the recent 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, which have Liquid Retina XDR displays. Those make a massive difference.
What is really different between these two is that the display on the MacBook Air is 0.3 inches larger (13.6-inch vs 13.3-inch diagonal on MacBook Pro), it has rounded corners and a black notch at the top of the screen for the webcam and sensors. Basically, the same design as of the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
Speaking of the chassis, the MacBook Air is thinner than the MacBook Pro. It's 0.44 inches thick, while the MacBook Pro’s thickness is 0.61 inches, which is pretty average for a laptop. MacBook Air weighs less than MacBook Pro as well.
If you're looking for a laptop that's comfortable and easy to carry around, the MacBook Air wins without a doubt.
Battery and Chargers
The MacBook Pro is 5 ounces heavier and 4mm thicker than the MacBook Air. This allowed Apple to install a larger battery and a cooling system in it.
The MacBook Pro's 58.2-watt-hour battery lasts 2 hours longer than the 52.6-watt-hour battery of the MacBook Air. What does this mean in numbers? Apple says the MacBook Pro can provide approximately 17 hours of web browsing and 20 hours of watching Apple TV. MacBook Air will last 15 hours and 18 hours respectively.
Also, an unobvious advantage of the MacBook Pro is in its power adapter. It comes with a 67-watt charger and charges the battery much faster than the 30-watt adapter that comes with the MacBook Air.
But if we're talking about adapters, it should be mentioned that the MacBook Air comes with a MagSafe 3 power adapter. It frees up one of your USB-C ports for other accessories. The MacBook Pro only gives you 2 USB-C ports which comes down to just 1 available if your charger is connected.
The advantage of the MacBook Air, which no one expected, is the webcam. The MacBook Pro still uses the same webcam as the 2020 M1 MacBook Pro — 720p FaceTime HD camera.
The camera on the MacBook Pro hasn't changed since 2016. The MacBook Air suddenly surprised everyone by introducing a 1080p camera, Apple's best yet.
It is not clear why Apple does not upgrade the camera on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, because now video calls are more relevant than ever, and the difference between these cameras is visible to the naked eye.
The 13-inch Macbook Air also has better speakers. Apple added 4 speakers to the MacBook Air, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro only has two. Well, that's interesting.
Sound recording, however, is better and more professional on the MacBook Pro. Apple calls this technology a studio-quality, three-mic array. It is unlikely that a real recording studio will use this particular system, but in any case, the sound quality of the MacBook Pro outperforms the MacBook Air.
Only the 13-inch MacBook Pro still has a touch bar. Some love this feature, others hate it. It has the convenience though — the touch bar adjusts and shows you only the right number of keys for the app in which you are currently working.
However, there are also disadvantages. Not all apps support the touch bar. And it is impossible to build muscle memory with it, which reduces the speed of work at the computer. Gradually, Apple abandoned the use of the touch bar, and now only the 13-inch MacBook Pro still has it, as a greeting from the past.
The features of the MacBook Air M2 keyboard are great though, and would give you everything you might need. Media and playback controls, brightness and volume levels, spotlight, launchpad, dictation, and other.
Touch ID sensor is present on both machines, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, in the same upper-right corner position of the keyboard. Same as usually, you can use it to unlock the device, authorise purchases and fill in passwords from the keychain. Both keyboards have adaptive backlight, this is a standard feature now.
Despite how controversial it is, we think we have a winner here — the new 13-inch MacBook Air M2. If we compare these two laptops side by side, at about the same price the MacBook Air wins in almost every aspect. It has a bigger screen with smaller bezels, better speakers, a better webcam, an extra charging port, more colour options.
The MacBook Pro only wins in performance, and even that is not that obvious and convincing. Some may not like the MacBook Air's notch and like the Pro's touch bar, but the majority will still vote for the MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro is still using a 2016 chassis, and it’s likely to be the last release in this form factor.
The MacBook Air has its minor drawbacks, but it will still suit and make most buyers happy.
You can find some refurbished MacBooks Air on our website.