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15-inch MacBook Air with next-gen M3 chip reportedly in the works

Published Jun 12th, 2023 8:36AM EDT
15-inch MacBook Air profile.
Image: Apple Inc.

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The Vision Pro might be the most important new product that was announced at Apple’s WWDC 2023 event, but it’s not the only hardware Apple announced from the show. Just as rumored said, Apple made a 15-inch version of the MacBook Air, which is currently available for preorder. Starting at $1,299 and already on sale with a discount, the 15-inch MacBook Air is an amazing proposition. It offers the same design and features as the 13.6-inch model but in a larger package.

That might also be a problem for some MacBook fans. The 15-inch MacBook Air ships with the same M2 System-on-Chip (SoC) as the 13.6-inch version that launched last year. But make no mistake, a model with an M3 chip is coming. The M3 version will launch at some point next year, according to an insider. But you probably shouldn’t wait to get one.

Apple has just completed its transition from Intel chips to its M-series silicon after introducing the M2 Ultra chip for the brand-new Mac Pro. But if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past few years it’s that Apple created a tick-tock release schedule for its processors and laptops.

The M1 and M2 chips power devices like the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini. The Pro, Max, and Ultra variants of those chips arrive several months later after the first new M-series model. They power the new MacBook Pro designs, Mac mini, Mac Studio, and Mac Pro.

The 15-inch MacBook Air is essentially a larger version of the 13.6-inch model. Everything stays the same except for the larger display and battery pack. The new laptop should be popular with consumers; I know I already want one. The display size upgrade and M2 performance/battery life are the big reasons to go for the 15-inch Air.

Considering Apple’s strategy, the Air will be among the first new Macs to get the M3 chip whenever the SoC is ready. That’s actually the reason the 15-inch model didn’t receive the next-gen chip. The M3 will be available to Apple at some point in the future, whether it’s later this year or in 2024.

Mark Gurman said in his Power On newsletter on Bloomberg that Apple is developing 13.6-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air models with the M3 chip.

The insider also noted that the M3 chips should have CPU and GPU core counts similar to the M2. But the new SoCs are based on TSMC’s 3nm process, which means we’re looking at power and efficiency gains for the upcoming M3 series.

The laptops should arrive in 2024, although it’s unclear when Apple will unveil them. The M1 MacBook Air hit stores in late 2020, with the M2 version arriving in June 2022.

Gurman further said that Apple is also developing new iMac and 13-inch MacBook Pro models with M3 chips. The all-in-one desktop should drop early next year. It’s unclear if that’s also when Apple will release new MacBook Air models, considering the 15-inch M2 variant’s mid-2023 release date.

Gurman’s claims aside, expecting a 15-inch M3 MacBook Air makes sense, considering Apple’s current Mac release strategy. But it might not make sense to wait for the M3 chip. The current model should deliver amazing performance and battery life compared to any similar Intel-based computer, or older Intel-based Macs. 

If you already rock one of Apple’s M-series Macs, you might want to wait for the M3 version. That is if you can’t put up with the smaller 13-inch screen for at least another six months. And that 15-inch display is the main reason to upgrade to the brand new MacBook Air.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.