After spending some time with the new 15-inch MacBook Air unveiled at WWDC 2023, I can safely say that it feels like… a slightly larger 13-inch MacBook Air. And for me, that’s a good thing.
I’ve always thought the 15-inch Air was a good idea, even when I first wrote about the concept about a decade ago. A MacBook Pro is an expensive investment, at least $2,000 today, but sometimes you just want a bigger screen, not necessarily faster processors, extra ports, or other MacBook Pro features.
For me, the main reason is that I mostly work with text, and frankly, a 13-inch screen is too small for all-day, everyday use. I regularly increase my Google Docs to 125% or even 150%. Hey, when you get to be my age, you’ll probably find the same thing.
It might surprise you to learn that Apple hasn’t had a 15-inch laptop in several years until today. This is still the default laptop screen size for many Windows users, especially in an office environment. But Apple killed the 15-inch MacBook Pro, leaving it with no skin in the 15-inch laptop game.
Read more: 15-inch MacBook Air M2 Pre-order: Where to buy Apple’s latest laptop
The MacBook Pro currently comes in 14- and 16-inch sizes, and the current Air was previously only 13-inch. (There was also an 11-inch Air at one time, as well as a 12-inch system called just “MacBook”.) But now the MacBook lineup has 13-, 14-, 15-, and 16-inch models.
The design looks and feels exactly like the 13-inch M2 Air, which I currently use almost daily. Apple calls it the world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop, although I think some LG Gram models should come close and may weigh less. Side by side, the 15-inch Air is 0.45 inches thick and weighs 3.3 pounds. The 13-inch Air is 0.44 inches thick and weighs 2.7 pounds.
Apple promises 18 hours of battery life and, again, based on what I know of current MacBook specs and performance, that doesn’t sound unreasonable. With the same overall design and the same chip, what you gain with the larger 15-inch body is… a bigger battery. If you open the chassis of your current MacBook Air, you’ll find that inside is a huge battery with some computer components crammed next to it. Bigger body, bigger battery, longer battery life.
The 15-inch Air is fanless because it uses the same M2 chip as the 13-inch fanless model, and the larger chassis gives it even more room for passive airflow and cooling, so that doesn’t surprise me.
The screen is already high enough resolution that moving up to 15 inches doesn’t affect sharpness. There is very little difference in screen resolution compared to the 13-inch, going from 2560×1664 to 2880×1864 pixels. Carrying the system in my hand, it felt light enough to carry in my shoulder bag, though for everyday travel I’d still probably stick with the 13-inch Air. Both come in the same Starlight, Midnight, Space Gray and Silver colors.
One of the things I liked most about the 15-inch Air is something I predicted in my WWDC preview from a few weeks ago. Since it’s the same basic design, same chip, and mostly the same features and capabilities as the 13-inch Air, there was no reason to give it a big price jump. And indeed, the 15-inch Air starts at $1,299 (£1,399, AU$2,199), which seems reasonable to me. Especially when the 13-inch M2 Air was $1,199 until today — it just got a steep price drop on its one-year anniversary to $1,099. So the bigger screen is now a $200 add-on, which isn’t nothing, but it’s also not as bad as it could be.
This is based on my very short hands-on time with the device at WWDC, and I look forward to getting a more in-depth look at the 15-inch MacBook Air in the near future.