By comparison, the MacBook Pro 2022 is left clinging to the past with the exact same design as the 2020 model. You still have the Touch Bar, a 720p webcam, stereo speakers and only two USB ports. While we need to get the laptops in for review before a full comparison is possible, it is hard to imagine a user that would be better served by the M2 MacBook Pro, which carries a $100 price premium on the M2 MacBook Air. Let’s take a closer look at why I think you should skip the M2 MacBook Pro in favor of literally any other laptop in Apple’s lineup.
While both include the new M2 Apple Silicon chip, the similarities end there. Apple announced a pair of new MacBooks at WWDC 2022, a rare hardware announcement at the developer conference, and while both contain the new M2 Apple Silicon chip, the similarities end there. The MacBook Air 2022 has a redesigned design that aligns it with the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 models. The redesigned squared-off chassis, the reintroduction of MagSafe charging, the notch (well, I didn’t say they were all nice things), an enhanced 1080p camera, a quad-speaker system, and a pair of USB 4 ports are among the new features.
The real question is what advantages are you getting over the MacBook Air M2 in terms of performance and the answer is: not much. Just like the last generation, the MacBook Pro gets fans and a slightly larger chassis to enhance its thermal performance over the same M2 chipset in the Air. In our testing, the M1 Air actually outperformed the MacBook Pro in one-off testing (5,962 to 5,882 on Geekbench 5.2), where you would expect an advantage is more sustained demanding tasks. The reality is that Apple’s done its job so well with the M1, and presumably the M2, that the thermal hit isn’t enough to cause the Air to throttle that often, so for the vast majority of users, the difference is going to be imperceptible. If anything, that may be even more true this time around, as Apple no longer has to contend with the thermal challenge of the old Air’s wedge design.
Again, we haven’t had the opportunity to test these laptops yet, so I’m sticking to Apple’s claims and our past experience with the M1 models for now. It’s safe to say that the performance of the MacBook Pro M2 will be far closer to the MacBook Air M2 than the base MacBook Pro 14 with its M1 Pro chipset. This is hardly shocking as the pricing certainly reflects that with the MacBook Pro M2 starting at $1,299, a full $700 short of the MacBook Pro 14.
My personal experience with the Touch Bar was abysmal across three separate Touch Bar MacBook Pros I owned; it was glitchy and unreliable. It was one thing to put up with the Touch Bar in the MacBook Pro M1 two years ago when it was that or an Intel-based MacBook Pro, but Apple moved on with its design, and when you are paying $1,299 and up for a laptop, you shouldn’t be settling for last-gen design. If you do love the Touch Bar, I would recommend taking a look at the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 or Asus ZenBook Pro 14 Duo as the larger secondary display on those models represents a far more useful implementation of the concept.
We’ll be able to settle this argument quickly once our labs get our hands on these laptops, but if you are considering the MacBook Pro because you do photo or video editing work, for example, any potential benefits you will see from going with the MacBook Pro are almost certainly outweighed by the associated costs, which I’ll address now. I know there are people who like the Touch Bar, but like Apple’s butterfly switch keyboards, this experiment failed and its time is over. The MacBook Pro 2022 will force Apple to keep supporting it, but it never garnered the necessary third-party support to make it as useful as it could have been.
Neither of the M2 MacBooks get the plentiful panoply of ports that the MacBook Pro 14 and 16 offer, but the fact that you get one fewer port on the MacBook Pro M2 just feels wrong on every level. Of course I’m talking about the return of MagSafe to the Air M2. This beloved charging port lets you charge quickly and safely as it will immediately detach without destroying the cord or your laptop if anyone or anything accidentally trips over it. However you feel about MagSafe, that means you can charge while still having two USB 4 ports free to plug in a monitor and a USB drive — or whatever else you might need. On the MacBook Pro M2, you are down to just one USB 4 port anytime you need to charge your laptop.
The MacBook Pro M2 is similarly left in the dust when it comes to its webcam and speakers. The MacBook Air M2 gets the long-awaited boost to a 1080p webcam along with a quad-speaker sound system that should rival that of the MacBook Pro 14 and 16. We were pretty impressed with the output from the 720p webcam on the M1 MacBook Pro, but as external webcams increasingly move to 4K or larger 1080p sensors, it feels dated to still be sporting a 720p camera in your “Pro” laptop.