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What is the color problem with the MacBook Air M2?

The new MacBook Air M2 released in 2022 has been receiving some complaints about the colors being inaccurate or washed out compared to previous models. This “color problem” seems to particularly affect the Midnight color option.

What are the details of the color issue?

When viewing the Midnight color MacBook Air M2 at certain angles or in certain lighting, some users notice the black color appears washed out and greyer than expected. Instead of a deep, true black it can look more like a dark gray or charcoal color.

This is most noticeable on the aluminum chassis itself but can also affect how the display colors look in dark mode. Some users expected a deeper, richer black for the new Midnight color but find it looking more muted than anticipated.

The issue appears to be with the anodization process Apple uses to color the aluminum chassis. Some colors like Starlight and Silver are not affected by this but the dark Midnight hue highlights the issue.

What’s causing the washed out black color?

The root cause seems to be that the anodized finish on the Midnight aluminum body is thinner and more translucent than on previous Space Gray models. This allows the natural silver color of the aluminum metal to show through more underneath, giving it a washed out gray appearance.

Apple may have prioritized making the chassis thinner and lighter on the new M2 models. But a thinner anodization layer means the dark color becomes more translucent and less opaque.

The anodization process converts the outer aluminum surface into a transparent oxide layer. If this layer is too thin, the natural aluminum color underneath impacts the perceived hue.

How widespread is the issue?

It’s difficult to quantify exactly how many MacBook Air M2 units are affected by the color issue. However reports indicate it is fairly widespread, though not affecting every laptop. Some degree of variance in the anodization process is normal. But the washout effect appears more pronounced on these 2022 models.

Those who bought the new Midnight color seem most widely impacted. Some Space Gray M1 owners also notice their older units look darker in comparison to the M2. So it’s likely a significant portion of the new Midnight chassis are showing the washed out effect.

Are other MacBook colors affected?

So far user reports suggest the lighter MacBook Air colors are not impacted, only the dark Midnight/Space Gray hue. For example, there are no complaints about the Starlight or Silver colors being inaccurate.

The issue arises from the anodization layer being too thin and translucent on the dark colors specifically. The lighter colors can get away with a thinner anodized coating without it being as noticeable to the eye.

Is this an Apple quality control issue?

Many owners complain this is an example of Apple’s quality control processes slipping recently. The fact that some units look darker than others indicates inconsistent manufacturing or finishing processes.

However, it could also be partly an intentional trade-off by Apple engineers. A thinner, cheaper anodization process translated to more profit margin on the overall chassis. But it came at the cost of color accuracy problems.

Will Apple fix the problem?

Currently Apple has not acknowledged the widespread complaints about the M2 MacBook Air’s color issues. Some customers who contacted Apple Support were told the lighter appearance is normal.

It’s unlikely Apple will recall or replace existing stock with the problem. However, they may quietly adjust the manufacturing process for future batches to improve the color accuracy if public complaints escalate.

Can you fix it yourself?

There is no easy DIY fix for owners disappointed with the washed out Midnight color on their MacBook Air M2. Re-anodizing the aluminum chassis at home is not really feasible.

Using skin decals or wraps to cover the chassis may visually improve the appearance but cannot fix the root cause. Unfortunately, you cannot easily open up and repaint the aluminum body itself.

Will a case or skin fix the problem?

Third party cases, skins, or wraps can help visually improve the washed out appearance. A skin that has a really deep black color when applied to the lid/chassis can mask the translucent anodization issue.

Exact color matching is important. A black skin with even slight gray undertones may not adequately hide the muted original color. But a true deep black vinyl wrap or case could make the MacBook Air M2 look closer to the original marketing images.

Should you return or exchange your MacBook Air 2022?

If the color difference is really bothersome, the best option is trying to exchange your new MacBook Air for another unit. Some retail stores may allow exchanges if you complain the color is defective.

Otherwise, your only recourse is to return the laptop for a refund within the normal return period. Then you could repurchase and try your luck again in hopes of getting one with better anodization.

Keep in mind you may go through several exchanges before getting one that meets your expectations. Also, return shipping costs may apply if bought directly from Apple online.

Will Apple release a fix or black chassis version?

Given this appears to be a manufacturing process issue, it’s unlikely Apple can “fix” existing units. A chassis replacement program would be too costly for them.

However, we could see Apple quietly improving the process for future manufacturing runs. New stock arriving in stores could have better color accuracy if they adjust the anodization.

Another option is Apple releasing an all-black chassis version without anodization. This could provide a true, deep black color that avoids the transparency issues altogether.

Should you avoid buying the Midnight color?

If you are very sensitive about precise color accuracy, it may be wise to avoid the Midnight option when buying a MacBook Air M2.

Go for a lighter color like Starlight or Silver to avoid any issues with颜色 washout. Or consider waiting a few months to see if Apple improves the situation in future manufacturing batches.

Checking the color in person before purchasing can help manage expectations. But there is still a degree of lottery around which units exhibit more washout than others.

Will this hurt resale value?

In the short term, it’s possible the Midnight color models may lose some resale value on the secondary market. Especially once any return/exchange period ends.

However, in the longer term this is unlikely to be a major issue. Color accuracy is not a critical flaw that affects usability. As long as Apple does not introduce a redesigned black chassis version, there will not be segmented “good” and “bad” models.

Can software help compensate for the hardware color?

There are no software settings available to directly change or compensate for the physical chassis color. The System Preferences and Accessibility settings only affect on-screen interface elements.

Some users suggest trying Night Shift or Dark Mode to help visually offset the lighter Midnight chassis color. While not a true fix, this may help it blend in better for darker environment use cases.

Will 3rd party repair shops be able to fix it?

Unfortunately, no. This is not an issue that independent repair shops will be able to resolve either. Third party shops don’t have the ability to disassemble and re-anodize Apple chassis.

Apple does not provide the necessary tools, training, or replacement parts for reliable anodization of their aluminum laptop bodies to anyone outside their factories.

Does this affect the MacBook Pro M2?

So far most complaints relate specifically to the MacBook Air M2 in Midnight. There are fewer reports of the same color inaccuracy on the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 released at the same time.

This may be partly because the Pro uses a darker Space Gray color instead of Midnight black. The darker color hides the washed out effect better than on the MacBook Air.

However, some users have also observed the color on the Pro M2 being inconsistent. So there is a possibility it is also impacted by thinner or patchy anodization issues in some cases.

Is the M1 MacBook Air color better?

Many owners of the previous M1 MacBook Air (Late 2020 model) report its Space Gray color is darker and richer than the new M2 version.

Direct comparisons show the M1 Space Gray can look closer to a true black, while the M2 Midnight looks more washed out gray in some lighting.

This suggests Apple has changed the anodization process between generations, resulting in the thinner and more transparent finish on the 2022 model.

Does this affect performance?

No, the color difference itself does not impact performance, speed, or functionality of the MacBook Air M2. It is purely a cosmetic issue.

The washout problem arises from the chassis finishing and does not affect internal components. All processing power, RAM, GPU, and other specs remain the same.

Will the issue get worse over time?

It’s unlikely the washed out appearance will significantly worsen naturally over time. The anodization process chemically converts the aluminum surface, so the color should persist.

However, scratches, dents, paint chipping, and normal wear and tear could eventually expose more untreated aluminum. This may gradually make the washout effect more visible if the anodized layer gets damaged.

Does the issue occur on customized configs?

Yes, the color problem has been reported on standard configs as well as customized MacBook Air orders direct from Apple.

It does not appear any particular specs or configurations make the washout more likely. All Midnight models are prone as it’s related to the finishing process rather than internal parts.

Even builds-to-order models with upgraded SoC, RAM, SSD, or other options can exhibit the issue if they use the Midnight color chassis.


The washed out Midnight black color on the MacBook Air M2 is disappointing for many owners. While not affecting usability, it falls short of expectations set by Apple’s marketing images and previous generation Space Gray models.

The underlying cause stems from the anodization process not creating an opaque enough coating on the aluminum chassis. This results in the darker color allowing more of the silver metal underneath to show through.

There is no DIY fix and Apple is unlikely to resolve existing units. But they may improve color accuracy in future batches. For now, buyers focused on precise color reproduction may want to consider other MacBook color options.

Overall, this “colorgate” controversy illustrates the difficulty of quality control when producing aluminum chassis at scale. Small design or process changes can yield unexpected results once mass production ramps up fully.