Hands-On: Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Air Merges Power, Portability, and a Big Screen

Apple didn’t just unveil a futuristic headset or a plethora of new software, but they also dropped the biggest MacBook Air yet. A new 15-inch size that supersizes the experience of the redesigned 13-inch MacBook Air with a more expansive display, bolder sound, and increased battery life.

It’s up for order with a starting price of $1,299 and will begin shipping on June 13, which is less than a week away. In fact, Amazon  (AMZN) – Get Free Report is already discounting the entry-level configuration in Midnight or Starlight by $50 to $1,249. It also comes in silver or space gray, all with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

I also had the chance to spend some time with Apple’s latest MacBook Air and am sharing my thoughts on why this could be the ultimate big-screen laptop for traveling.

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It’s a Bigger MacBook Air

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Air with M2 weighs at 3.3-pounds.

Jacob Krol/TheStreet

First things first, let’s talk about size. The 15-inch MacBook Air comes in at 11.5-millimeters thick, which Apple says is the thinnest 15-inch laptop around, and it weighs 3.3-pounds. That’s plenty thin, and like the redesigned 13-inch, it ditches the wedged design that the MacBook Air has been known for, for a slim flat design all around.

It looked nice in person, and I like that Starlight offers a bit of sparkle as it mixes silver and gold. The weight is more noticeable over the 13-inch MacBook Air, as it’s about 0.75 pounds heavier and will likely take some time to adjust for those upgrading. That is significantly lighter than the 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro, though.

Holding it with two hands was comfortable, and it is well-balanced for usage as a laptop. I wouldn’t be concerned about portability, considering many backpacks can handle a laptop of this size. It is lighter than competing Windows laptops from Dell or Lenovo.

Related: 13-inch MacBook Air with M2 Review

Jacob Krol/TheStreet

The increased footprint is still made from aluminum, and once you open it up, you’ll see the star of the MacBook Air. It’s a 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display, which features brightness up to 500 nits and a 2880 x 1864 resolution.

In some brief testing of the indie game Stray, which is coming to the Mac, it handled motion well and allowed colors to pop vibrantly over more stark contrasting visuals. Similarly, exploring images in Photos or editing this Photomator was quite nice.

The larger 15.3-inch screen affords a lot more room over a 13-inch screen for navigating between multiple applications and even split screening between two. The 500 nits of brightness made the visuals plenty visible in a brightly lit demo space as well. That should make this laptop fit for working in a range of conditions.

Like the 13-inch MacBook Air with M2, the 15-inch does have a notch at the top. Love it or hate it, you’ll need to live with it if you want a modern laptop. It doesn’t stretch lower than the top bar and holds the 1080pHD FaceTime camera. Luckily, the rest of the bezels around the screen come in at just 5 millimeters.

In terms of typing, in a very brief typing test, I found the keys to offer plenty of travel and the keycaps to be easily accessible. Furthermore, it’s the same sized keyboard as on the 13-inch; the real upgrade is with a larger trackpad underneath it that lets you better navigate the larger display.

Flanking the 15-inch MacBook Air’s keyboard are larger speaker grills, which house the six-speaker system that supports Spatial Audio. Given the sheer volume of noise, I couldn’t test these in the hands-on space, but Apple says it should be a meaningful improvement that is louder with stronger bass from force-canceling woofers than the 13-inch.

Related: Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro Review

Since it’s a MacBook Air, Apple  (AAPL) – Get Free Report is continuing the trend of not including a fan or any active cooling, and that is fine, as Apple’s M2 chip runs cool. In our testing of the redesigned Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro, it powered through any task, be it productivity or a more intensive creative one.

The 15-inch MacBook Air features the slightly upgraded M2 with an 8-Core CPU and a 10-Core GPU, which equals two more GPU cores over the 13-inch. This should let the 15-inch handle gaming, photography edits, and movie editing better. As more games release for the Mac, the 15-inch should be well suited to handle it.

Jacob Krol/TheStreet

Regarding battery life, the 15-inch features a physically larger battery over the 13-inch given its size, and Apple says that should equal up to 18 hours of use. Given the efficiency of the M2 chip, this new MacBook Air should easily last for over a day of use and several days with standby. Like the 13-inch, the 15-inch features a MagSafe port, two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a headphone jack.

Is the 15-inch MacBook Air Right for You?

All of this power and immersion, courtesy of the larger screen, comes in an ultra-portable notebook that should easily fit on the tray table of a plane, a desk, or on your lap while commuting by train or car. And that’s really what the 15-inch MacBook Air needs to hit—power and portable to deliver a larger screen in a design that can go anywhere.

The 15-inch MacBook Air should be just as swift with macOS and any task you throw at it as the 13-inch Air; it just comes down to the screen size you want. It’s also worth noting that Apple dropped the official MSRP of the 13-inch MacBook Air with M2 by $100 to just $1,099, so there are now more MacBook Airs to consider:

13-inch MacBook Air with M1 ($799, originally $999 at Amazon)13-inch MacBook Air with M2 ($1,099 at Amazon or B&H Photo)15-inch MacBook Air with M2 ($1,249, originally $1,299 at Amazon)

It ultimately comes down to screen size, but those craving a lighter, larger-screen MacBook now have a perfect option. Furthermore, anyone who wants a larger Apple laptop that costs under $1,999 now has a suitable alternative with the $1,299 MacBook Air.

Apple’s latest 15-inch MacBook is up for order and will begin shipping on June 13, 2023. I’ll be back with a full review of the latest Apple laptop as quickly as possible.

Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.

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