15-inch MacBook Air review roundup: Killer for consumers

15-inch MacBook Air review roundup: Killer for consumers


15-inch MacBook Air
There's never been a MacBook Air with a larger screen. Not even close.
Photo: Apple

Reviewers have plenty of praise for the first 15-inch MacBook Air, with comments like it “does its job very, very well” (The Verge) and it’s “more than good enough” (CNET).

Shockingly, this killer consumer laptop starts at just $1,299 (and is already available at a $50 discount from some retailers). Read on for a summary of comments about Apple’s largest consumer-oriented notebook yet.

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15-inch MacBook Air is mostly a super-size 13-inch model

When Apple released the redesigned 13.6-inch MacBook Air in 2022, reviewers were very complimentary of its slim design and speedy processor.

WWDC23 brought a follow-up that boosts the screen to 15.3 inches while keeping the slimness and reasonable price. The initial reviews of this model are also full of praise.

Gorgeous 15-inch screen

If it isn’t already obvious, the highlight of the new Air is the display, which has a 2880-by-1864 native resolution at 224 pixels per inch.

“MacBook Air’s screen is bright, sharp and entirely pleasant to look at for extended periods of time,” said the Engadget review.

The Verge reviewer found the 15.3-inch version more usable than the 13-inch one. “It affords, frankly, much more space than I would ever know how to take full advantage of. I can comfortably use two windows side by side; on the 13-inch Air, I might have to zoom out a notch or two. Big screen devotees, you’ll be thrilled.”

The CNET review is also generally positive about the display. “Apple’s Liquid Retina screens are still colorful and crisp and bright (and have ambient light color adjustment with True Tone), but they probably won’t blow you away.”

But reviewers are also realistic — Apple puts better screens in professional-grade notebooks.

The Air is “missing the niceties you’ll find in the mini LED displays on the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, including a much more dramatic contrast ratio, support for HDR, slightly more pixels per inch and a 120Hz max refresh rate,” said Engadget.

Pleasingly slim

Reviewers applaud Apple for putting a larger screen into the MacBook Air without making it bulky. The notebook is only 11.5mm thick and weighs in at 3.3 pounds.

“It still feels extremely thin and also far more portable than either of the MacBook Pro models,” said Engadget.

“This 15-inch Air feels notably thin as you use it, just because it’s a normal MacBook Air thinness over a larger footprint,” reads the CNET review.

‘Excellent’ keyboard and trackpad

15-inch MacBook Air keyboard and trackpad
The 15-inch MacBook Air has the same keyboard as the 13-inch version, but the trackpad is larger.
Photo: Apple

A notebook is more than just a screen: The built-in keyboard and trackpad are just as important. And The Verge called both “excellent.”

So did Engadget. “The keyboard, large trackpad and Touch ID sensor are all excellent, which is true of all Mac laptops at this point.”

Outstanding speakers

“The Air 13’s speakers are good; the Air 15’s are stupendous. Bass came through in a way it doesn’t on pretty much any other computer,” raved The Verge.

While still complimentary, Engadget didn’t completely agree. “These [speakers] 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.”

Consumer-grade performance

The 2023 MacBook Air uses the same Apple M2 processor as the smaller version released in 2022. The result: Both computers offer very similar performance.

“Geekbench 5 scores were almost the same as those we got when testing both the 13-inch Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, both of which also use the M2 chip,” says Engadget’s review.

The M2 is not a professional-grade processor. The MacBook Pro models use enhanced M2 Pro and M2 Max chips for this reason. The 15-inch MacBook Pro will strain if asked to do pro tasks.

“The caveat: the Air still gets hot,” warned The Verge. “It was hotter in the area right above the function row than I wanted to touch during pretty much all of my benchmark testing. The keyboard, while usable, was toasty. I did not see any of this heat when I was just using the Air to mess around in Chrome, which was most of the time. But if you’re one of those people buying this thinking you will use it to export video every so often, take that to note.”

Also, the M2 is expected to be replaced by the faster, more efficient M3 in the coming months.

“My only concern is that this brand-new Air is running a chip that’s already about a year old,” Engadget pointed out. “It’s so powerful that this shouldn’t be a problem for the Air’s target audience, but it’s still something worth considering.

Lengthy battery life

The Apple M2 processor runs efficiently, and doesn’t require a fan when doing typical consumer tasks. The new MacBook Air has a long battery life as a result.

“I averaged 14 and a half hours. That is also squarely between what I generally see from the 13-inch MacBook Air (around 13 hours) and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (16 to 16 and a half),” said The Verge.

Conclusion: Outstanding MacBook for the price

The 15-inch MacBook Air specs chart.
Apple calls the new 15-inch MacBook Air “the world’s best 15-inch laptop.”
Image: Apple

The starting price for the 2012 MacBook Air is $1,299. Many of the reviewers pointed out that Apple’s other large-screen notebook, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, starts at more than $1,000 more. And the consensus is that typical consumers don’t need to pay that much.

“I don’t need a MacBook Pro and you probably don’t either,” opined CNET’s reviewer. “Apple’s M2 processor in the Air already exceeds the requirements of all but the most serious creative pros.”

And The Verge said, “Real, regular people — sitting on their couches, checking their emails, bookmarking their recipes, whatever it is we all do — are going to be happy with this device. It’s everything you’d want from a MacBook Air.”

15.3-inch MacBook Air with M2 chip, 256GB storage

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12/08/2023 12:24 am GMT


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