Mac fans had a good 2021, as Apple built upon the success of its M1 chip with a run of critically lauded Apple Silicon-powered product launches that culminated in the debut of new MacBook Pros.
The 14-inch 2021 MacBook Pro and the 16-inch 2021 MacBook Pro (pictured) are two of the best MacBooks released in years, offering a slew of smart design changes, gorgeous new mini-LED displays, and the power of Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. However, with prices that start at $1,999 and $2,499, these laptops are priced out of the reach of most consumers.
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Looking ahead to 2022, Apple is well-positioned to continue pushing the boundaries of MacBook performance and efficiency with more affordable options and new iterations of its bespoke silicon chips. There’s good reason to believe we’ll see an all-new Apple M2 chip debut in the year ahead, likely powering a revamped MacBook Air and perhaps a new entry-level MacBook Pro.
So whether you prize MacBooks for their power or portability, there are good reasons to get excited for what Apple’s cooking up in 2022. Here’s a brief look at the highlights of what we expect to see in the year ahead.
MacBook Air 2022
A new MacBook Air 2022 is one of the most anticipated products Apple could release in 2022. We've been hearing rumors about a new MacBook Air for some time now, and with good reason: the launch of the inaugural M1-powered Air in late 2020 set a new standard for MacBook performance, and now that we've seen what the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips can do, it's hard not to dream about what a new MacBook Air with a more efficient M2 chip could be capable of.
There's good reason to think we'll find out, as the MacBook Air 2022 has been tipped for a launch and release next year. We haven't heard any more detailed leaks about when it will debut, which suggests it's wise to expect it in the latter half of 2022, perhaps in the same fall timeframe as the 2020 MacBook Air's unveiling.
I wouldn't expect any big shifts in pricing, either. With a starting price of $999 (or $899 for those in education) the MacBook Air is Apple's most affordable MacBook, and even with a new design and more powerful hardware a 2022 MacBook Air probably wouldn't stray too far from that baseline. At most we might expect to see the price jump up $100 or so, but taking the entry-level Air into the realm of four-figure pricing seems like a risk Apple isn't likely to take.
Of course, a price increase makes more sense if the MacBook Air 2022 gets a significant redesign. Right now all the rumors we've heard point to that being the case, as the next MacBook Air is tipped to sport slimmer bezels around a new mini-LED display like the ones found in the iPad Pro 2021 and the new MacBook Pros. These displays are gorgeous, and the prospect of having one in an affordable ultraportable like the MacBook Air is good reason to get excited for 2022.
Slimmer bezels around the display could also mean we'll see a notch appear on the MacBook Air that sticks down from the top bezel to hold the webcam, a la the new MacBook Pros. That might upset some fans who prefer clean, uninterrupted bezel lines, but don't get too concerned: we've seen renders of CAD designs supposedly sourced from within Apple that reveal a MacBook Air 2022 with no display notch after all. And even if it does end up shipping with a notch in the display, try not to stress about it: the new MacBook Pro's notch is easy to get used to, and pretty soon your eyes stop noticing it.
MacBook Pro 2022
If everything we've heard proves true, the MacBook Air 2022 won't be the only new M2-powered MacBook Apple launches next year. The Cupertino-based company is also tipped to launch a MacBook Pro 2022 with M2 chip.
This tip comes courtesy of Bloomberg reporter and Apple expert Mark Gurman, who believes Apple will launch this new entry-level MacBook Pro next year as a replacement for the current entry-level 13-inch Pro.
It makes sense that Apple would follow up the recent release of its 14-inch and 16-inch Pros with a new 13-inch model, as the 2021 Pros sport significantly improved designs with expanded port arrays, eye-catching mini-LED displays surrounded by slimmer bezels, and a standard row of function keys to replace the controversial Touch Bar.
All of those improvements make the current 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 look a bit outdated, as it still sports the Touch Bar, meager port offering and LED-backlit Retina display of MacBook Pros past. That's why it makes so much sense for Apple to release a new model next year, likely around the same $1,299 starting price, with the same upgrades we love in the 2021 Pros and the same M2 chip we expect to see in the MacBook Air 2022.
If that happens 2022 will be a throwback to 2020, when Apple debuted its M1 chip in both a new Air and a new Pro. The pair offered meaningfully different performance and power efficiency despite sharing the same chip, and it's likely we'll see a similar situation play out in 2022. The M2 chip is tipped to offer the same 8-core CPU as the M1, but with a more powerful graphics processor (up to 10 cores) and a smaller, more efficient architecture.
New Mac mini 2022, iMac 27-inch
Between a new Air, a new Pro, and the potential of a new piece of Apple silicon, MacBook fans have a lot to look forward to in 2022. We also expect to see Apple roll out a new Mac mini and a new iMac next year, each powered by the M2 chip or another iteration of Apple silicon.
A revamped follow-up to the M1-powered Mac mini Apple released in late 2020 would make sense if Apple does indeed debut the M2 chip next year, though it could conceivably delay the release of an M2-powered Mac mini into mid-2023.
The launch of a new 27-inch iMac in 2022 makes even more sense, given that the company earned critical acclaim with the 24-inch M1-powered iMac it launched in 2021. That left the larger Intel-powered 27-inch iMac looking a little long in the tooth by comparison, and now that the 21.5-inch iMac is officially dead it seems quite likely Apple will refresh the 27-inch iMac in 2022. Hopefully it's as well-designed and colorful as the 2021 iMac, which felt like a breath of fresh air after years of Apple's plain silver aluminum designs.
Whether you prefer your Macs to be laptops or desktops, there's plenty of reasons to get excited about what Apple has planned for the year ahead. The Cupertino-based company has been riding high ever since it blew away our expectations for bespoke silicon with the M1 chip, and with a successor waiting in the wings it's likely to be an exciting 2022.