As we enter the Black Friday deal season, one of the most sought-after items year after year is the Apple MacBook Air. Of course, it’s not hard to see why. It’s a great computer with great performance, lightweight and ultra-portable, and for most consumers it’s the kind of device that “just works”.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s also much more affordable than any other Apple computer other than the Mac Mini. The MacBook Air’s reputation for affordability (relatively speaking) is one of its greatest strengths, so we weren’t a bit disappointed that the latest model of the MacBook Air, powered by the Apple M2 chip, saw a fairly significant price increase over the MacBook M1 Air it replaces.
Still, the M2 MacBook Air might be the best laptop Apple has ever made for the general consumer market, and we see some really good Black Friday MacBook Air deals on the new M2, but look beyond the FOMO in Starlight and you’ll see that the perfect MacBook Air was here all the time and now has very aggressive price cuts.
Most people don’t need the M2 chip now
No doubt we love the new MacBook Air (although I personally don’t like the way Apple went with the redesign, but c’est la vie). It’s a powerful computer with a great display and still as portable as ever, making it the perfect laptop to take with you around town.
However, the same can be said about the Apple MacBook Air with the M1. And while it makes total sense to try and buy the most powerful laptop on sale, most users who just want to work productively, stream video, FaceTiming and the like, the M1 chip is more than capable of delivering fast performance and excellent battery life with significantly lower initial costs.
Layer on the kinds of discounts we see on MacBook Black Friday deals, and the M1 MacBook Air not only becomes a bargain, but increasingly outright a steal.
If you really need something more powerful than the M1 chip, you should really look at the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which will be much more in line with your needs, and those are on sale too, so you can still save.
Retailers need to move M1 MacBook Air units to make room for M2 MacBooks
Now that the MacBook Air with M2 has been on sale for several months, there’s increasing pressure on retailers to make room for newer models. This means cleaning up their M1 inventory, so prices will be even lower on average than last year.
There’s no reason not to pass up a good deal on a MacBook Air that will serve you well years just because Apple has put a slightly more powerful chip in its new devices.
Generally, retailers will price M1 MacBooks more aggressively, which could mean savings of 20% to 25% over the base configuration, which is more than enough for most users.
Even higher-tier configurations will have price cuts, especially for those configurations that are typically harder to sell.
The selling price of the M2 MacBook Air is still higher than the M1 Air at full retail
Finally, times are tough right now, and the new MacBook Air with M2 is a bit out of step with it. Sure, the prices of everything have gone up, and it’s not like Apple and every other manufacturer big and small hasn’t been tackling supply chain issues over the last few years.
But there’s no getting around the fact that typical sales of M2 MacBook Air models are still higher than buying the almost equally capable M1 MacBook Air at full retail.
Right now, the Apple MacBook Air M2 with 8GB of storage and 256GB of storage is priced at $1,049.99 at both B&H Photo and Best Buy. That’s $50 more than the MacBook Air M1’s suggested retail price with the same memory and storage options, and we haven’t seen the MacBook Air M1 sell consistently at full retail price at any major retailer other than the Apple Store in over a year.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals slashing the price of the two-year-old MacBook Air M1, you’re likely to get significant savings by opting for the M1 model instead. To illustrate this better, I’ve rounded up some of the best Black Friday laptop deals on both Apple MacBook Air models, so you can see the difference for yourself.
And remember, not only are US buyers in luck here, we’re seeing a similar story in the UK at major outlets like Amazon, Box and Currys.
It’s still important to keep Black Friday prices in perspective
While the M1’s Apple MacBook Air is already aggressively discounted, it’s only so low that they can effectively go down. Grabbing a MacBook Air M1 for $749 is about as good a deal as you’re likely to buy a new unit, so you’ll still be paying a decent amount for the MacBook Air regardless.
If you have room in your budget and really want the best MacBook around, the M2 MacBook deals should prove to be better value, even if they’re more expensive, because you’ll get a better degree of future-proofing, and of course you’ll get better performance.
But if you’re on a tight budget this year like the rest of us, there’s nothing wrong with opting for the M1 MacBook Air, and it’s an excellent way to save real money on a new laptop.