Apple's MacBook Air has long been overlooked by many users that wanted a larger display. The 13-inch version released last year with the M2 chip was a fantastic laptop but for serious multitaskers or creatives, there just wasn’t enough display real estate.
That would have pushed many to consider the exorbitantly expensive 14-inch or even pricier 16-inch MacBook Pros, but those that held off have had their faith rewarded after months of rumors, the MacBook Air now has a 15-inch version.
If you were hoping for the M3 chip or other performance boosts, you won’t find them here, this is essentially just a larger version of the 13-inch. Still, with that very laptop getting a significant overhaul last year, there’s not a lot wrong with that.
It offers a great display (if not quite as good as the one found on the MacBook Pro, and you’ll find the same M2 chip that offers great power and battery life. In fact, despite the larger screen size, you’ll still reach 18 hours of battery here.
Speaking of power, you also get MagSafe, Apple’s magnetic charging standard, freeing up the USB-C ports (although you can charge through those, too). You’ll also find a 1080p webcam in the “notch”, but we’ll get to that shortly.
Overall, it’s a successful evolution of what was already here, and that 15-inch display is much more useful for comparing images side-by-side, research, and even gaming.
MacBook Air M2 15-inch review
MacBook Air M2 15-inch: Design
- Available in Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, Silver
- Slim design
- Improved speakers
If you’ve seen a MacBook in the last few years, you won’t find anything that’ll startle you with this one, especially if you’ve spent any time with the 13-inch version.
Price - $1299.00
Screen size - 15.3-inch
Weight - 3.3 pounds (1.5kg)
Memory - 8GB as standard, 16GB and 24GB options
Battery life - up to 18 hours
Storage - 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB versions
Warranty - 1 year, extendable with AppleCare.
Operating system - macOS Ventura (macOS Sonoma compatible)
Display - 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display (2880x1864 resolution)
CPU - Apple M2 chip (8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine)
Graphics - M2 includes 10-core GPU (configurable with 10-core GPU)
Ports - 2x Thunderbolt USB-4 ports, MagSafe, 3.5mm headphone jack
That means it's still an aluminum casing, with the reflective Apple logo on the back, with an almost impossibly thin and light design that weighs just 3.3 pounds.
Our review unit is the Starlight version, and while none of them are particularly garish color options, the Midnight one, in our experience, can pick up fingerprints more easily than the others.
On the left side, you’ll find a MagSafe port and two USB-C ports, while the right side just has a 3.5mm headphone jack. The keyboard is just as good as Apple’s recent efforts have been, and the trackpad remains best in class.
It was surprising not to see speaker grilles on either side of the keyboard, but the improved audio output is actually within the hinge, Apple's engineers used the extra space afforded by the larger footprint to add speakers, fixing one of the 13-inch’s very few flaws.
You’re here for the display, though, and it won’t disappoint unless you’re used to the Liquid Retina XDR panel on the MacBook Pro. Still, that’s more in terms of sheer contrast than anything else, and the 2880x1864 resolution is plenty sharp.
You’re here for the display, though, and it won’t disappoint - unless you’re used to the Liquid Retina XDR panel on the MacBook Pro. Still, that’s more in terms of sheer contrast than anything else, and the 2880x1864 resolution is plenty sharp.
MacBook Air M2 15-inch: Performance
- Vastly improved performance over Intel Macs
- Impressive battery life
- iPhone and iPad app compatibility (where supported)
The MacBook Air is using the same M2 chip as its 13-inch sibling, but it remains an impressive feat of engineering that it can power through so many simple and complex tasks, and still offer all-day battery life.
This is because many of the crucial components are located on the same die, meaning the MacBook Air doesn’t have to keep passing data from one to another. Factor in shared memory to be shifted between tasks as and when it’s needed, and there’s a huge amount of power - and this is at the low end of the Apple chip lineup.
You’ll naturally get more power from an M2 Pro and onwards, but for 90% of users, this is likely to be more than adequate. Multitasking is snappy (and much more possible on the larger screen), and the MacBook Air reaches the same battery life as the smaller version despite the bigger display.
As is the case with Apple Silicon Macs, there’s also the ability to run iPad or iPhone apps on the MacBook Air, where possible.
Our only gripe is that 256GB of storage is a little slim considering this machine costs almost $1300 at the low end. With no upgrades available after purchase, we’d recommend going for the 512GB version if you can.
MacBook Air M2 15-inch: Functionality
- Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Lightroom and Photoshop run well
- Display is great for image editing, but MacBook Pro's is better
- 1080p webcam and great microphone combo
This writer put the MacBook Air through its paces using Pixelmator, Photoshop, and Lightroom, all of which are optimized for Apple Silicon.
The M2 chip processed complex files and projects with ease, leveraging AI where needed and never once breaking a sweat. And, since there’s no fan, it was silent, too.
Exporting large quantities of layers as files were as smooth as on the MacBook Pro M1 Pro model, but we did miss the deeper contrast of that display which can offer a more accurate depiction of your photos. Something to consider if you’re looking to use the MacBook Air as your main editing machine.
If you are using the MacBook Air 15-inch for your day-to-day work, you’ll also find that it's an ideal video conferencing machine thanks to its crystal clear mic and 1080p webcam. Long gone are the days when you’d need to plug in a webcam for anything near decent results, although you can wirelessly connect to your iPhone's rear-facing camera, too.
Should you buy the MacBook Air M2 15-inch?
The MacBook Air M2's 15-inch version is likely to sell like hotcakes with its mix of excellent design, power-efficient performance and larger display. It's the best the MacBook Air has ever been and is likely to become the most popular model around.
While the 13-inch is excellent, the larger display makes it possible to get more done, particularly in terms of multitasking. It remains a modern marvel thanks to its combination of portability, power and excellent battery life.
If the MacBook Air M2 15-inch isn't for you
The MacBook Pro is the obvious comparison, but its considerable price makes it a sizeable investment, even for the 14-inch model. It does offer a better display and even more power, but it's likely to be overkill for many.
If you're looking for a Windows machine, Microsoft's range of Surface Pro devices thread the needle between tablet and laptop functionality, offering the best of both worlds.
Finally, if you've already got a display, keyboard and mouse, it might be worth looking into the Mac Mini M2. It's significantly cheaper and still has the M2 chip inside.