Now you don't need to spend $4,000 to get a large-screen Apple laptop.
15-inch MacBook Air M2 (2023) review: The best gets bigger
The 15-inch MacBook Air takes last year's MacBook Air refresh and makes it bigger. It's a simple yet excellent laptop that finally gives Apple a somewhat affordable large-screen MacBook.
The 15-inch MacBook Air is a very simple product. It takes the best MacBook for most, and makes it bigger. It’s a surefire recipe for success. You get the benefit of a larger screen with everything else that was great about Apple’s M2 MacBook Air refresh.
Of course, this means you also get the same trade-offs, but fortunately, those are largely quite minor.
How much does the 15-inch MacBook Air cost?
The 15-inch MacBook Air starts at $2,199 for a configuration with 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. If you want to upgrade to 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage, you’re looking at $2,799. A maxed-out configuration with 24GB of memory and 2TB of storage will set you back $3,999.
What I like about the 15-inch MacBook Air
The 15-inch screen genuinely makes a difference. It’s much more comfortable running two apps side-by-side on the new MacBook Air. I used to think 13-inch was my ideal laptop size, but as laptops have gotten lighter and bezels smaller, I’ve found myself drawn to the versatility of a larger display. And yes, while the 15-inch MacBook Air still has a notch, it’s one of those things you don’t really notice when you’re actually working on the machine.
It's still light. The 15-inch MacBook Air weighs in at 1.5kg, making it only 250g heavier than the 13-inch model. This also makes it far more pleasant to lug around in a bag pack than the 2.1kg 16-inch MacBook Pro - Apple’s only other large-screen laptop. And despite the larger size, the 15-inch MacBook Air is comfortable enough to use in-flight on an economy tray table.
The battery is amazing. Apple is kidding about being able to get up to 18 hours per charge. The 15-inch MacBook Air lasts forever; you shouldn’t ever need to charge it during a single workday. If you opt for the 70W charger when ordering the computer, you can take the 15-inch MacBook Air from flat to 50% in around 35 minutes. The 70W fast charger doesn’t cost extra compared to the default in-the-box charger, you just lose the second USB-C port on it.
Very snappy performance. Even a year after the chip was first launched, the M2 processor powering the 15-inch MacBook Air feels as zippy as ever. The laptop just flies when it comes to day-to-day tasks, and it still more than holds its own when it comes to activities like video editing - even if it’s not Apple’s workhorse.
Great speakers. On top of a larger screen, Apple also improved the speakers in the 15-inch MacBook Air. There are get six, compared to the four in the 13-inch model, and they genuinely sound great. You get a fuller sound than you’d expect for a laptop this thin, with the one shortcoming being recessed sub-bass.
What I dislike about the 15-inch MacBook Air
Not user upgradeable. As is the case with every recent Mac, you can’t upgrade the 15-inch MacBook Air down the line - you’re stuck with the configuration you get when you buy it. While the 15-inch MacBook Air is available with 8GB of memory, I’d definitely opt for 16GB at a minimum.
When I tested last year’s 13-inch model with 8GB of memory, I experienced a bit of slowdown if I kept demanding apps open for too long. I haven’t had this experience with my 16GB 15-inch MacBook Air. I’d probably also opt for 512GB of storage for the sake of future-proofing.
Limited ports. While the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio have got a few extra ports these days, you’re still limited to just two USB-C ports and a MagSafe connector on the MacBook Air. That’s probably enough for most, but a single full-size USB-C port and an SD card reader would be appreciated.
It can only output to a single external display. While only being able to use a single external display with the 15-inch MacBook Air is fine for most, it’s a limitation worth being aware of.
Is the 15-inch MacBook Air worth it?
The 15-inch MacBook Air is a very happy middle ground that will suit a lot of people. It’s a light, powerful machine with a generous screen that’s a lot more affordable than opting for a $3,999 16-inch MacBook Pro. Even if you upgrade the memory and storage, you’re still saving a considerable amount compared to Apple’s other large-screen laptop.
While I’d struggle to pick between the 15-inch MacBook Air and the 16-inch Pro, it’s great that there’s now a large MacBook in Apple’s line-up that caters to those who just want a larger screen without the added performance or features the 16-inch MacBook Pro offers.