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15-inch MacBook Air review roundup: Here are the key takeaways

Published Jun 12th, 2023 9:19AM EDT
15-inch MacBook Air with M2 chip unveiled during the WWDC 2023 keynote
Image: Apple Inc.

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During the WWDC 2023 keynote, Apple unveiled its new 15-inch MacBook Air, the Mac Pro with M2 Ultra chip, and the Mac Studio with M2 Max and M2 Ultra processors. With sales starting this Tuesday, the embargo for the MacBook Air has lifted up – and BGR brings a roundup of first impressions on this Mac.

MacWorld calls it the “best, but bigger laptop.” Comparing battery life, the 15-inch MacBook Air lasts the same as the 13-inch model. So don’t expect more battery just because the machine is bigger:

Our video rundown test, in which we played a downloaded movie on a loop with the display set to 150 nits, lasted about 8 percent longer–a total of almost exactly 19 hours. In practice, with the display a little brighter and mixed casual use, the extra battery more or less offsets the drain from the bigger display. That means battery life is the same as the 13-inch model, which is a good thing.

CNBC praises the bigger display, which is easier to fit more without losing content. The publication believes going with the 512GB of storage is the “go-to” option:

The extra screen size makes a difference versus the 13-inch MacBook Air. It’s easier to put two documents side-by-side at the same time. The physical screen is not only bigger, but it has a 2880×1864 resolution, higher than the 13-inch model, which means you can fit more on the screen. (…) While $1,299 is fairly expensive for a laptop, it does represent value in Apple’s lineup, especially for people who want a bigger screen (…) However, I believe that most people will want more storage and should upgrade to 512GB of hard drive space, which brings the price to $1,499. 

PCMag complains that this MacBook should have more ports, as its bigger size doesn’t follow big specs.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Air may be larger, but the port selection, oddly, stays the same. On the right-hand side of the machine is a single 3.5mm combination audio jack, and on the other edge is a pair of Thunderbolt ports. If you have an external monitor, you can connect it (up to a 6K resolution) via one of the Thunderbolt ports—but only one panel is supported.

The Verge notes that the 15-inch MacBook Air doesn’t hold up to the “Air” name as carrying it around isn’t as good – although it’s not as heavy as a 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The 15-inch Air is not an ultraportable machine in the same way. Just for some context, it is only a tenth of a pound away from the weight of the Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop. It is thin, thinner than other Windows laptops in this size class, but there is quite a bit packed into that chassis, and it’s still a big computer overall. Carrying it around in a tote bag was not my favorite thing.

ARS Technica praises its price, as this computer is the first laptop with a bigger display from Apple but without charging a premium price.

I was pleasantly surprised by Apple’s pricing for the 15-inch Air. It starts at $1,299, just $200 more than the newly lowered price of the 13-inch model. All versions of the 15-inch Air also include the M2 variant with 10 GPU cores—once you add the same upgrade to the 13-inch M2 Air, the 15-inch version is only $100 more expensive. Given the historical gap between machines like the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros or the old 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs, it’s not too much to pay for a lot of extra screen. Microsoft also puts a $200 gap between the 13- and 15-inch versions of its Surface Laptop 5, but I was expecting Apple to charge more.

Engadget praises the speakers of this device, saying it’s almost as good as the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The 15-inch Air also has a six-speaker sound system with “force-canceling woofers” for improved bass, compared to a four-speaker setup in the smaller model. Apple has been making surprisingly excellent laptop speakers for a few years now, and these also sound very lively and full when playing back music or movies. They’re not nearly as good as the ones in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but that laptop is significantly thicker and heavier than the Air; that extra space surely helps with resonance and bass. But the speakers in the Air still sound lively and fun to listen to. Cranking the volume up to the max reveals the lack of bass, but I was happy to listen to music at mid-range volume all day long.

15-inch MacBook Air hands-on and reviews in video

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.