After months of speculation, Apple made the 15-inch MacBook Air official at WWDC 2023. The updated model is basically a larger version of the 13-inch MacBook Air, but there are some important differences that separate the new model.
We’re here to give you the rundown on the new MacBook Air and what you can expect out of it, from pricing and the release date to expected performance.
Apple announced the 15-inch MacBook Air at WWDC 2023, and it starts arriving for customers on June 13. You can reserve a unit now, but Apple says it will have models available online, at retailers, and in Apple Store locations on June 13.
The 15-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,300 for the base M2 processor with eight CPU cores and 10 GPU cores, along with 8GB of Unified Memory and 256GB of Storage. That’s $200 more than the base 13-inch MacBook Air M2, which has the same specs otherwise.
The 15-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,300, but you’ll spend more if you want to upgrade your memory and storage. You can configure up to 2TB of SSD storage for an $800 upcharge, along with up to 24GB of memory for $400 extra.
The 15-inch MacBook Air is the first time Apple has ever given such a large screen to its Air design, but despite the bump and screen size, the machine still carries the tenets of the range. For starters, Apple says it’s the world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop, coming in at only 11.5 millimeters (or less than half an inch).
It’s also only 3.3 pounds, just half a pound heavier than the 13-inch model. Just like the 13-inch model, Apple is able to achieve the weight and thinness due to the fact that the 15-inch MacBook Air doesn’t have any fans (though, that likely means it will get hot when pushed).
You’re getting the same connectivity, as well: two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a MagSafe 3 charging connection. From top to bottom, this is the 13-inch MacBook Air with a larger screen, all the way down to the color options. Just like before, you have the option between Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, and Silver.
The biggest design changes are actually on the inside. For starters, the 15-inch model comes with a six-speaker array while the 13-inch one only comes with four speakers. In addition, Apple is only offering the 15-inch model with the M2 with 10 GPU cores. On the 13-inch model, you can scale down to an eight-core M2.
Overall, though, this is the same M2 MacBook Air that we’ve had for the past several months, short of a larger screen.
The screen is where the 15-inch MacBook Air is substantially different, and it’s not just due to the size. It’s a 15.3-inch screen that carries the same pixel density as the smaller model: 224 pixels per inch (PPI).
That means a slightly higher resolution overall of 2880 x 1864. True to Apple’s other Liquid Retina displays, you’re getting 500 nits of brightness, a wide color gamut, support 1 billion colors, and Apple’s True Tone tech to dynamically adjust color and brightness.
We won’t know if the display holds up until the machine is here, but there’s a good chance it will fall in line with what we’ve seen in this range of devices. As you can read in our MacBook Pro M2 Max review, Apple’s displays are as good as they’ve ever been, with vibrant colors and exceptional clarity.
Although we haven’t had the chance to test the 15-inch MacBook Air, we expect its performance will be around the same level as the 13-inch MacBook Air M2. It uses the same processor under the hood, so it should perform about the same.
That includes a pesky issue with Apple’s latest MacBook Airs related to the 256GB configuration. In short, this configuration on the 13-inch model has much slower SSD performance, which may be a problem with the 15-inch model, as well. We have to wait for breakdowns to confirm, but it doesn’t appear Apple has addressed the issue.
You can expect similar performance as the 13-inch model, but the 15-inch version may have a slight edge in some areas. We’ve noted very high temperatures on the 13-inch MacBook Air, so the larger size may give the 15-inch model more room to breathe and lead to slightly higher performance. Still, we don’t expect the differences will be major.
For Apple’s claims, it says the 15-inch Macbook Air is 12 times faster than the fastest Intel-based MacBook Air, as up to twice as fast as “the best-selling 15-inch PC laptop with a Core i7 processor.” Apple doesn’t say which PC it’s comparing the MacBook Air to, but these claims aren’t far off what we heard with the 13-inch model.
The missing piece is the M2 Pro, which was widely speculated to be available in the 15-inch model. Apple might be making way for the M3 MacBook Air, which is rumored to launch later in the year.
Just like the 13-inch model, Apple says the 15-inch MacBook Air comes with up to 18 hours of battery life with Apple TV playback and 15 hours of wireless web browsing. In our review of the 13-inch model, we found that it actually lasted around 18 hours in our web browsing text and over 21 hours when playing video.
The 15-inch model should have similarly impressive battery life, but it might fall just short of the 13-inch model. It has a larger screen with more pixels, which requires a bit more power. It shouldn’t be a huge difference, though.