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MacBook Air (2022): rumors, news and leaks

A colorful array of MacBook Air laptops against a splashing, pastel backdrop
(Image credit: Jon Prosser / Future)

The MacBook Air (2022) is highly anticipated and it’s no surprise considering that the current model tops both our best laptop and best Apple laptop guides. The current Air is, of course, one of the most popular offerings from Apple and, despite its premium ultrabook feel, is the company’s most reasonably priced laptop out there, making it particularly attractive to both students and professionals.

While there was no news of a new MacBook Air at Apple’s October event, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) has been out since November 2020 when it launched alongside the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020), and Mac mini (2020).

The MacBook Air currently available comes with Apple’s own SoC or system on a chip that combines the CPU with the GPU and other integral components for a powerful 8-cores of performance. And, though the design hasn’t changed since 2018, that M1 chip means that the Air works 3.5 times faster in terms of CPU performance and 5 times faster in terms of GPU performance over the prior Intel-powered MacBook Air.

The MacBook Air 2022 will most likely keep that silent, fanless design and excellent battery life, which is already the longest in an Apple laptop, even if Apple doesn’t make any adjustments. But we’re expecting some improvements, particularly in the Air’s design, with the 2022 model. Rumors abound of a complete redesign including a plethora of colors to choose from, similarly to the classic Mac-inspired ones that you can pick for the 2021 iMac and 4th generation iPad Air.

The current webcam remains at 720p despite 1080 resolutions for broadcasting cameras being the standard for some time now (with the new iMac also featuring an improved full HD webcam), and the M1-powered MacBook Air was actually a step back regarding connecting to additional displays as you can only run one external monitor with the current model. For context, the last Intel-based MacBook Air could run two 4K external monitors, so we might see this feature return, especially since the newest iMacs and MacBook Pros all sport 1080p webcams.

MacBook Air (2022): Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The new MacBook Air (2022)
  • When is it out? Likely Q3-Q4 of 2021
  • What will it cost? Unknown, but likely similar to current pricing (starting at $999/£999)

MacBook Air (2022): release date and price

A row of colorful MacBook Air renders against a plain backdrop

(Image credit: Jon Prosser)

We’ve been anticipating some official news on the MacBook Air (2022) for a long time now, even expecting something back during the iPhone reveal event on September 14. While Apple stayed silent on the MacBook Air during its subsequent event on 18 October as well, rumors suggest it could appear as soon as May of 2022. 

The latest 24-inch iMac was only released back in May 2021, and given that featured the same M1 SoC as the first wave of Apple silicon, it's anyone's guess as to if this latest MacBook Air will offer the very same M1 with a complete design update, will sport one of the new chips unveiled with the new MacBook Pros, or have an all-new M2 chip.

The current MacBook Air model is also still relatively new at just under a year old, so while we did expect new laptops to be announced on October 18, it ended up being the highly anticipated MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch, which means the new MacBook Air announcement will be bumped into 2022.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman had already suggested that supply issues could push this model to an early 2022 debut, a claim backed up by additional production estimates by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. And, now that the October 18 event has come and gone, a 2022 release date seems fairly certain.

In fact, given that these two new MacBook Pro models contain souped-up versions of the M1 chip (the M1 Pro and M1 Max), it's unlikely that the 2022 MacBook Air would launch with the same, ultra-powerful Soc during the same release window.

There's no official murmurings on price yet, but we anticipate the new MacBook Air will start at $999 / £999, just like the current model.

MacBook Air (2022): design

Possible MacBook Air (2021) design

(Image credit: Jon Prosser / RendesByIan)

Regardless of when the new MacBook Air arrives, there's been plenty of leaks and speculation regarding its new design to make it worth the wait. We anticipated back in April that the MacBook Air is overdue for its own colorful redesign following the release of the 24-inch iMac during the Spring Loaded event, when the new models took inspiration from some classic, colorful Mac designs.

This was reinforced when serial Apple leader John Prosser claimed that the MacBook Air (2021) could launch in the same seven colors as the iMac (2021). These colors are Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange, and Purple.

According to renders provided by Prosser, these new MacBook Air laptops could also feature white keycaps, larger function keys, and a slightly smaller trackpad. The chassis is also noticeably slimmer and 'boxier', doing away with the current sloped edges and instead opting for a very modern, blunt edge. With these rumors all collated, it would seem this anticipated redesign will be the thinnest, lightest MacBook Air to date.

Now that the rumors have been proven true with the return of MagSafe charging on the two newest MacBook Pros, we also anticipate that the 2022 MacBook Air will feature a Mini-LED display, something not only suggested by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo but a couple other sources

As well.

MacBook Air (2022): leaks and rumors

Possible MacBook Air (2021) design

(Image credit: Jon Prosser / RendesByIan)

A thinner design suggests that the MacBook Air (2022) will include some variant of the Apple M1 SoC, though it's unclear right now if this will be the same M1 chip featured in the current MacBook Air, or a new all-in-one M2 SoC.

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Outside of the chip itself, it's likely that Apple will keep many of the other specifications the same as the current model. This is the 'budget' laptop option after all, so any boost to power could push the price higher and eat into the market for the MacBook Pro.

This means you'll see a choice between 8GB or 16GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of SSD, alongside established features like the Magic Keyboard, and Touch ID. We're also anticipating thinner bezels, a 13-inch display (as is currently the standard), and an improved 1080p webcam. Updated webcam tech was featured on the 2021 iMac, with Apple claiming this to be the “best camera ever in a Mac”, so we'd be surprised if this isn't extended across the entire range of MacBook devices given how dire the current 720p webcam performance is.

While the number of ports on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) ended up expanding quite a bit, the same might not happen on the MacBook Air (2021), which will likely remain at two ports.

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is TechRadar's Computing writer, covering hardware, PC gaming and peripherals. She also likes to dabble in digital art and can often be found playing games of both the PC and Tabletop variety, occasionally streaming to the disappointment of everyone.