Apple MacBook Air (M1) Review:

Game-changing speed and long-lasting battery life

A winning form that offers great performance and doubles battery life with no real downsides.

The MacBook Air is one of two new laptops that feature Apple’s M1 processor. This makes it a huge leap in battery life and performance.

The MacBook Air with M1 chips starts at PS999. This is Apple’s entry-level laptop. It sits below the MacBook Pro With M1, starting at PlayStation 1,299. They are also the first models of Apple’s wholesale switch away from traditional Intel processors to Apple Arm-based chips, similar to those found in iPhones or iPads.

The M1 MacBook Air looks almost identical to the one released in April. They are almost identical in size, weight, ports, microphones, and speakers.

The 13.3in screen supports DCI-P3 colour space, a feature that was previously reserved for the MacBook Pro. Although the 720p webcam works slightly better than those found on iPads, iPhones, and other laptops, it is still a poor alternative.

Overall, the MacBook Air’s physical design and operation are almost perfect for a consumer laptop. Rivals only beat it by having slightly smaller bezels around its screen.

Specifications

  • Screen: 13.3in LCD (2560×1600, 227 ppi); True Tone
  • Processor Apple M1 with seven- or eight-core CPU
  • RAM: 8 and 16GB
  • Storage: 1TB, 512GB or 2TB SSD
  • Operating System: MacOS 11 Big Sur
  • Camera: FaceTime HD camera at 720p
  • Connectivity: wifi 6, Bluetooth 5, 2x USB 4 (USB-C)/Thunderbolt 3, headphones
  • Dimensions 212.4×304.1×16.1mm
  • Weight: 1.29kg

A huge leap in performance and battery lifetime

The Air’s interior is nearly identical to its predecessor except for one important component: the processor.

The new M1 replaces the predecessor’s Intel Core i3, i5 and i7. The cheapest MacBook Air (as it was tested) has an eight-core processor (CPU), seven-core graphics processors (GPU), 8GB RAM, 256GB storage and an eight-core GPU option.

Four high-performance CPU cores power the M1 and handle heavy tasks like editing photos or crunching numbers. The four CPU cores with high efficiency can handle light tasks such as sending emails. The chip’s eight cores can be run simultaneously to maximize performance. However, the chip is designed for power efficiency.

The M1 is the first desktop chip made at the 5nm level, while most others are made at the 10 and 14nm levels. Energy efficiency is higher when the scale is smaller.

It combines a unique performance and battery-life boost, creating a truly remarkable combination. The M1 laptop chip is more powerful than any other and can compete with the most powerful desktop chips. It’s also very efficient in terms of power consumption.

Apple’s lowest-power and cheapest laptop can now do tasks previously reserved for large, high-performance machines. It also has multi-day battery life. The Air can handle multiple 4K video streams and other demanding tasks.

Before it had a Core i3 CPU, the MacBook Air was a solid performer and had a long battery life that lasted for over eight hours. The M1 MacBook Air is a remarkable machine. It can perform up to 3.7x faster than the paper version and lasts twice as long for the same amount of work using the same battery. The MacBook Air can get me more than 16 hours of work between charges. This is enough to last for two full days without needing to dim the lights or close programs to conserve battery.

Chrome is my main tool during work. I have about 10 tabs open and use various chat apps, Affinity photo, Typora text editor. Evernote, Apple Mail, Typora text edit, Affinity photo, Evernote, Typora, Typora, Typora, Evernote, Apple Mail, and other tools. Amazingly, a Google Meet video conference lasts an hour and uses less than 3% of the battery than the old Air.

The included 30W USB C power adaptor took 2 hours 44 minutes to charge the Air. It reached 50% in 65 minutes. The full charge time was cut down using a 45W adaptor from a third party.

Intel, Arm and Universal app

There are now three types of Mac programs available, thanks to the M1 chip. Apps for Apple (Arm) run natively on new computers. “Intel” apps are compatible with Apple Rosetta 2 translation system. “Universal” apps include both Apple and Intel versions so that they can be run on any Mac. App developers are currently updating their apps to the Universal format.

Nearly half of my apps are Intel apps. All of them work flawlessly, including Typora and Microsoft To-Do. Garmin Express, a niche piece of software that updates the company’s devices and watches, works flawlessly.

Rosetta 2 is so good that I don’t believe most consumers will care which app they use. Rosetta 2’s magic is the only way to tell if you aren’t using an Apple app.

Some software will not work without an upgrade, most likely enterprise and development software. Google’s Drive File stream file sync app for its corporate Workspace suite has not been supported on M1 Macs.

Sustainability

The MacBook Air is the most environmentally friendly laptop you can buy. The MacBook Air comprises 100% recycled aluminium and 100% recycled tin solder. There are also at least 35% recycled plastic components. Apple also uses renewable energy to finalize the machine’s assembly. The report breaks down the computer’s environmental impacts.

Although the computer is generally reparable, it also can be repaired by specialists iFixit. However, the previous MacBook Air shared a design and was only 4 of 10.

Apple doesn’t provide an estimated lifespan for the battery. The battery in the previous version could sustain 1,000 full charges before it reached 80%. It can be used to replace the PS129 battery by Apple.

Apple offers free trade-ins and recycling programs, even for not Apple products.

MacOS 11 Big Sur

The new Air comes with Apple’s latest macOS Big Sur and iPad-like design. It works the same way as Intel Macs except that it has the Rosetta 2 system and can install and run certain iPhone and iPad apps.

You can install mobile apps through the Mac App Store if their developer has allowed them to be made available to M1 Macs.

The apps aren’t great. There is a limited selection of apps available. Many are difficult to use or break. Their creators have abandoned some. Some apps have been marked as having been tested on Macs, while others are not.

They may become useful in the future, but I don’t think they are worth it right now. Their Mac or browser-based alternatives are better.

Observations

  • The M1 is a huge performance and efficiency improvement that will take many years before Intel, AMD, and Arm-rival Qualcomm catch up.
  • It offers the same instant-on feature as tablets and smartphones.
  • When the laptop is in standby mode for 16 hours, it loses 6% of its battery.

Price

The Apple MacBook Air is priced at £999 and comes with a 7-core GPU. It also has 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. The storage and RAM can be doubled for PS200.

Model with 8-core GPU, 8GB RAM, and 512GB storage costs PS1,249.

The M1 MacBook Pro is priced at PS1,299, while the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is priced at PS779, and the Samsung Galaxy Book S starts at PS999. The Dell XPS starts starting at PS949.

Verdict

Tech says that you shouldn’t buy the first version of any product. You’re paying to become an early adopter and iron out the kinks. With the new M1 MacBook Air, there are no kinks that I can find for average consumers.

The exterior is the same winning formula as the beginning of the year. The M1 chip, which is truly a gamechanger in the MacBook Air’s performance, makes it one of the most powerful computers in any form factor. It can do almost everything you’d expect from a large, bulky workstation. The MacBook Air is also thin and light, so it lasts twice as long on the battery as its rivals.

It isn’t perfect, however. It could use more ports. It could have smaller bezels. The webcam is terrible. It can only drive one external screen, and I’m not sure why it doesn’t have a Face ID as the iPad Pro.

It’s not like the old Intel Macs, and PC laptops were slow. The new M1 MacBook Air is so fast and efficient that it’s almost as if you put the 1980s Ford Capri next to a Tesla Model S.

  • Advantages: extremely fast, super cool and long-lasting battery life.
  • Cons: poor camera. Only two USBC ports can drive one external display. This is expensive and may cause issues for niche apps.

 

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