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MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) Review: Impressive Features

The 2023 Apple MacBook Air 15-inch resembles its smaller 13-inch counterpart, both its strength and weakness. Remarkably, it boasts an exquisite design, an exceptional display, and arguably the finest laptop speaker system. Nevertheless, the expanded screen diminishes its portability, a hallmark of the Air series. Those anticipating a more significant improvement than increased screen size may be underwhelmed.

Pros:

  • Expansive display
  • Sleek design
  • Attractively affordable

Cons:

  • Identical internal specifications to the 13-inch model
  • Reduced portability compared to the 13-inch model
MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) Review: Impressive Features

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) – Quick Overview

Apple unveiled its new MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) at WWDC 2023, introducing a 15-inch screen to its slender laptop series for the first time. In contrast to last year’s 13-inch MacBook Air (M2, 2022), which received a new design, the M2 chip, and a higher price tag.

After thoroughly testing the 15-inch MacBook Air, we’ll determine if it’s a bold Air reimagining or an unnecessary size increase. Starting at $1,299, it’s competitively priced, especially when compared to the Dell XPS 15.

Compared to the 13-inch MacBook Air (M2, 2022), the 15-inch model offers more value, though Apple dropped the 13-inch price by $100 after announcing the 15-inch variant.

Design-wise, the 15-inch MacBook Air is reminiscent of its 13-inch sibling but larger, maintaining the modern design introduced last year with a thinner bezel. While it’s slightly bigger due to the larger screen, it remains thin and lightweight.

However, this slimness sacrifices ports, leaving you with two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and the convenient return of MagSafe 3 for charging. The laptop can also be charged through a USB-C port, offering some flexibility.

The 15-inch MacBook Air boasts six speakers, complementing the bright and vibrant larger screen for a superb multimedia experience, and the M2 chip performs admirably for every day and demanding tasks. Yet, it doesn’t outpace the 13-inch model, so a future MacBook Air with an M3 chip may offer more.

The bigger screen makes the 15-inch MacBook Air bulkier and less portable than the 13-inch model. Nevertheless, its impressive battery life, nearly 19 hours, compensates for this drawback.

Ultimately, your choice between the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air boils down to the importance of screen size. The 15-inch model excels for immersive content consumption and multitasking, while the 13-inch remains an attractive option for portability, especially with its reduced price.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) - Price and Availability Review

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) – Price and Availability Review

The MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) was announced on June 5, 2023, and began shipping globally on June 11, 2023. Past MacBook launches faced stock issues, but this time it appears to be smoother.

Given the current economic climate, the rush for a premium laptop might not be overwhelming, but Apple’s appeal is undeniable. Especially when the starting price is a reasonable $1,299.

This base model features the M2 chip with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, 8GB of unified memory, and a 256GB SSD. Surprisingly, it’s just $100 more than the 13-inch MacBook Air from last year, at least in the US.

In the US, the 15-inch model offers a larger screen and enhanced graphics for that $100 difference. Additionally, it comes with a 35W dual USB-C port power adapter, providing faster charging.

This pricing strategy positions the new MacBook Air favorably against last year’s model, especially in the US. However, Apple’s announcement also included a price cut for the 13-inch model from 2022, now available for $1,099, which muddles the value comparison.

The 13-inch model’s original price seemed high, especially when compared to the value-packed M1 model from 2020 that still sells.

The 15-inch MacBook Air offers a higher storage option with a 512GB SSD for $1,499, but it’s a substantial $200 premium for extra space.

Customization is possible, with options for 1TB and 2TB storage and up to 24GB of unified memory, although these upgrades add to the cost.

Keep in mind that Apple laptops aren’t user-upgradeable, so careful consideration of your configuration is crucial. Once you make a choice, there’s no turning back.

Compared to competitors like the Dell XPS 15, the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) provides good value for its price and better performance.

Earning it a solid price score of 4.5/5.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) - Specifications

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) – Specifications

The Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) offers two primary configurations, distinguished solely by SSD storage capacity.

Ports
Specification256GB Model512GB Model
Price$1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,199$1,499 / £1,599 / AU$2,499
CPUApple M2 (8-core)Apple M2 (8-core)
GraphicsIntegrated 10-core GPUIntegrated 10-core GPU
RAM8GB unified memory8GB unified memory
Screen15.3-inch, 2880 x 1864 Liquid Retina display, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut15.3-inch, 2880 x 1864 Liquid Retina display, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut
Storage256GB SSD512GB SSD
Ports2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 32x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3
WirelessWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3
Camera1080p FaceTime HD webcam1080p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight3.3 lbs (1.51kg)3.3 lbs (1.51kg)
Dimensions13.40 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches (340 x 212 x 15.6mm)13.40 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches (340 x 212 x 15.6mm)

Both configurations are customizable, allowing for expanded memory (up to 24GB) and storage upgrades up to 2TB.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) - Design

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) – Design

The 15-inch MacBook Air inherits the sleek design introduced by last year’s 13-inch model. Both models share the same design elements, including port placement and keyboard size, with the larger model having a more spacious trackpad.

Apple proudly claims that the 15-inch MacBook Air is the world’s thinnest 15-inch laptop, measuring just 11.5mm. This slender profile compares favorably to the Dell XPS 15 and LG Gram 15, both of which are 18mm thick. It’s only slightly thicker than the 13-inch MacBook Air’s 11.3mm.

The larger MacBook Air maintains a fan-less design, thanks to the efficiency of Apple’s M1 and M2 chips, minimizing heat and noise. This contributes to the laptop’s silent operation.

However, the 15-inch model is heftier, weighing 3.3 pounds (1.51kg) compared to the 13-inch model’s 2.7 pounds (1.24kg), emphasizing its reduced portability.

The primary difference between the models is the screen size. The 15-inch MacBook Air boasts a 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display with a resolution of 2880 x 1864 pixels, maintaining image sharpness.

Both models feature a notch housing the 1080p webcam. The screen’s 500 nits brightness, P3 wide color gamut, and True Tone technology ensure vibrant and accurate visuals.

The 15-inch model benefits from six speakers, enhancing audio quality and immersion in content. While not at the home theater level, it outperforms typical laptop speakers.

Overall, the design of the 15-inch MacBook Air is impressive, with a modern look and multiple color options. Its two Thunderbolt 4 ports may require a USB-C hub for legacy peripherals, but they support high-speed data transfer and can power a 6K external monitor. The inclusion of the MagSafe port is a practical touch.

The MacBook Air 15-inch retains a familiar feel for users of the 13-inch model, offering a larger screen without compromising portability.

Its design score is 4/5.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) - Performance

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) – Performance

The MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) is driven by Apple’s M2 chip, identical to the 13-inch model’s, ensuring consistent performance.

In benchmark tests, the MacBook Air 15-inch delivered competitive results:

  • Cinebench R23 CPU: Single-Core: 1,589; Multi-Core: 8,577
  • Geekbench 6 Single-Core: 2,647; Multi-Core: 9,994
  • Battery Life (movie test): 18 hours and 52 minutes

Apple strategically designed the 15-inch model to offer performance on par with the 13-inch version, placing the emphasis on screen size and budget.

The larger display enhances productivity and entertainment, maintaining image quality, brightness, and color accuracy. It’s a visual delight for movies and games.

Gaming performance, while not top-tier, is acceptable for casual gamers. The MacBook Air 15-inch remained impressively silent during gaming sessions, thanks to its fan-less design.

However, this fan-less design may lead to throttling during extended, intensive tasks. For such workloads, a MacBook with fans, like the 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022), is a wiser choice.

The larger size comes at the expense of portability, making it less ideal for commuters. Don’t expect a significant performance leap compared to the previous model, as both belong to the same generation.

The MacBook Air 15-inch’s performance score is 4/5.

Should You Buy the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023)?

Should You Buy the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023)?

Considering the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023)? Here’s what you should consider:

  • If you desire a larger MacBook Air, this one is almost identical to the 13-inch model but with a bigger screen.
  • If you’re looking for a laptop to enjoy movies with its impressive screen and six-speaker setup.
  • If you seek a 15-inch laptop that remains remarkably thin and portable.

Don’t Buy it if:

  • If pure portability is your priority, this isn’t the smallest and lightest option.
  • If you want a laptop for travel, especially for small desks or tables on public transport.

MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) Review: Also Consider

Here’s a quick comparison with other laptops:

AttributesMacBook Air 15-inch (2023)MacBook Air (M2, 2022)Dell XPS 13 Plus
Price$1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,199$1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,899$1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,339
CPUApple M2 (8-core)Apple M2 (8-core)Intel Core i7-1280P (14-core)
GraphicsIntegrated 10-core GPUIntegrated 10-core GPUIntel Iris Xe
RAM8GB unified memory8GB unified memory16GB LPDDR5
Screen15.3-inch, 2880 x 1864 Liquid Retina display, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut13.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,664 Liquid Retina display (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)13.4-inch, 3,456 x 2,160, 60Hz, OLED, Touch, Anti-Reflect, 400 nit
Storage256GB SSD256GB512GB
Ports2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 32x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3 charging port2 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C)
WirelessWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera1080p FaceTime HD webcam1080p FaceTime HD webcam720p, 30 FPS HD
Weight3.3 pounds (1.51kg)2.7 pounds (1.24kg)2.77 pounds (1.26kg)
Dimensions13.40 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches (340 x 212 x 15.6mm)11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches (30.41 x 21.5 x 1.13cm; W x D x H)11.63 x 7.84 x 0.60 inches (29.54 x 19.91 x 1.52 cm)

Note: The MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) offers a larger screen and impressive battery life compared to its competitors.

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