MacBook Air Overview: Apple’s New M1 Efficiency means the longer term is shiny for the Mac

Apple MacBook Air M1 review (Image: APPLE)

Apple didn’t restart its MacBook Air until April, but a little over six months later, this iconic laptop is back with one of the most important changes since its inception. Before you get too excited, there isn’t a major redesign, completely bezel-less screen, or face recognition as this newest machine looks absolutely identical to its predecessor aside from a minor change to the function keys on the Magic keyboard. In fact, Apple hasn’t even introduced a new color to show that you’ve spent the money on the latest model.

What’s so unique about this newest Mac, and why is it such an important release? The extremely popular aluminum design hides the brand new M1 processor from Apple, which for the first time produces its own silicon for a Mac.

We already know the success of Apple’s private label chips in products like the iPhone and iPad. The competitors are constantly catching up when it comes to raw performance. Apple now hopes to bring the same magical sauce to its laptops and desktop computers, with the company dropping Intel to make things faster and more efficient.

Known as the Apple M1, the new brain is the first system on a chip (SoC) designed specifically for Mac and manufactured using state-of-the-art five-nanometer process technology. This basically means that the most important components are packed tightly in a neat bundle, which speeds up data processing considerably and uses less energy.

READ MORE: Introduced by Apple, the new MacBook Pro offers more power and the longest battery life ever

Apple MacBook Air rating

The Apple MacBook Air offers improved battery life thanks to the M1 chip (Image: APPLE)

We have been using Air for almost a week and there is no question that the future for the Mac is very bright.

The M1 is clearly a very powerful processor that will launch Apple’s suite of apps before you have time to blink. Software like Safari, Pages, and Photos seem so much smoother than before, and even turning this device on to check your morning emails is improved – the Retina display comes to life before you even open the laptop lid.

Apple designed the M1 chip to work perfectly with its latest version of macOS, Big Sur. When switching between Apple apps, launching the settings menu, or checking your messages in the new notification, there is no sign of jerking center.

The new M1-powered MacBook Air is an absolute delight, and there’s another benefit to this processor in that it’s far more efficient. Apple even managed to toss the fan out of the air, which means your meetings won’t be interrupted by the vortex of the cooling system.

Apple MacBook Air rating

The new Air is powered by Apple’s M1 chip (Image: APPLE)

We’ve had some complaints in the past about the Apple MacBook feeling the heat, but the new Air stayed very cool on our laps despite having some storage issues.

In addition to the possibility of integrating a fanless design, the battery life also increases significantly, which is definitely noticeable. We’ve been using the MacBook Air for a full day at work, and our battery isn’t dead.

We’re still doing some more testing and will update this article in the coming days. For now, however, we’re confident that Apple’s claims about significantly improved battery performance appear to be true.

So that’s the good news about the M1 chip, but there’s a word of caution.

Apple MacBook Air rating

Apple MacBook Air gets a 13-inch retina screen (Image: APPLE)

All of Apple’s own apps have been optimized to work seamlessly with this processor. However, many applications are still geared towards Intel.

Apple launched its Rosetta 2 translation software to ensure that all of your favorite apps will work on this new computer. However, we noticed that some software is still having issues with the change.

Perhaps the worst culprit is Google Chrome, which does not have the experience of loading onto an M1 computer. This hugely popular web browser really struggles with painfully slow loading times and the simplest of tasks that feel sluggish and slow.

Chrome works in the air, but it’s not fun to use. Until Google releases a version optimized for M1, you probably don’t want to launch it at all. We’ve also used apps like Trello and Slack, which aren’t nearly as bad as Chrome, but certainly don’t offer the same slickness as Apple’s own-brand software.

Oddly enough, Adobe Photoshop doesn’t suffer from the same problems. And since the company is already beta testing its M1-optimized Photoshop, it looks like things are going to get even better soon.

Of course, in the near future, most developers like Adobe will be releasing updates that are optimized for Apple’s M1 chipset. However, early adopters should be aware that some applications may not function as smoothly as others. In fact, some will perform worse than the MacBook Air, which launched earlier this year.

Apple MacBook Air rating

Apple MacBook M1 Air review (Image: APPLE)

As mentioned earlier, little has changed about this MacBook Air other than the new processor and improved battery life. But that’s not a bad thing. Still looking fabulous, the Air is the ultimate MacBook for those who want something light but powerful.

The 13-inch Retina screen is still glaring, and the new Magic Keyboard, which went on air earlier this year, offers a fabulous typing experience. There are also some improvements to the function keys, with the Spotlight Search, Dictation, and Do Not Disturb keys no longer showing up.

Of course, the Air has the market-leading Force Touch trackpad that its competitors still can’t come close to, and there’s a quick Touch ID fingerprint scanner for easy access to your files and Apple Pay.

Other improvements include faster SSD storage, which should reduce export times, and better video calls thanks to the M1-enabled FaceTime HD camera. We ran some tests on this video call camera and it appears to be better than some of Apple’s previous laptops. The picture appears a little sharper, although it is still only 720p quality.

If you are looking for the ultimate video calling machine, it is still worth going for the new iMac which offers much better video quality.

Finally, the MacBook Air has the usual two USB-C ports for charging and connecting accessories. Unfortunately, like the previous Air, they are both on the same side, which is slightly annoying as you cannot charge from either side of the laptop. Therefore, it may be necessary to rearrange the desk.

The air still looks just as good as it did before with a design that easily survives life in your backpack.

Apple MacBook Air rating

Apple MacBook Air rating (Image: APPLE)

Apple MacBook Air Review: Final Verdict

PROS: Apple apps are extremely fast. • The fanless design makes the air cool and quiet. • The battery life has been significantly improved
Disadvantage: Some apps like Chrome are painfully slow. • Only two USB-C devices and both on the same side

There is no question that the future is very bright for the MacBook. This brand new Air shows what the next generation of laptops will be able to do thanks to fast charging times and better battery life.

When you run Apple’s own apps like Safari and Pages, the experience is extremely nifty as it all opens in a snap. Battery life is also vastly improved, and the fanless design means that this air is completely silent – no matter how hard you squeeze it.

So that’s the good news, but there is still some work to be done before MacBook Air owners can rest assured that the M1 is the way to go.

Third-party apps like Chrome have shown what happens when the software isn’t optimized for M1 and the experience leaves much to be desired. With Chrome arguably the most popular browser in the world, we’re pretty confident that Google will quickly update it for M1 computers. However, it is worth checking out the apps that you rely on on a daily basis before switching to an M1-based MacBook. Some developers take longer than others, especially for niche work or education apps.

The more developers launch applications for this new generation MacBook, the faster things will improve. If you’re dying to upgrade right now, the new MacBook Air is a great laptop. However, expect some initial problems when using something that isn’t Apple’s own software.

For those who can wait a few months for the developers to catch up, it looks very promising. One thing is for sure – it’s an incredibly exciting trail for Mac fans.

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