MacBook Air 15" First Impressions: Supersized In Every Way
Everyone probably saw it coming with all the rumours going on and whatnot. Well, Apple finally unveiled it at WWDC 2023. We're talking about the MacBook Air 15" and oh... is it really amazing. This is the supersized Air that everybody has been wanting for a long while now and we're certainly glad that it's finally here.
Just like the MacBook Air 13" which we took a look at before, the MacBook Air 15" retains all the great things about the Air 13" except it's bigger. To which that means we start with the design.
If you're in any way familiar with the design of the Air 13", the Air 15" is pretty much the same, except bigger.
That means you still get a really solid aluminium chassis that's just 11.5mm thin across and the superb build quality that you would expect from an Apple product. Interestingly, Apple did actually mention that they had to really scrutinise and refine the design of the internal frame and overall chassis much more so than any other MacBook in their lineup just so that they can nail down the right balance between rigidity and slimness.
Now that we do have the Air 15" in our hands and have been using it for the past couple of days, we can really say that it feels nothing short of amazing and just as solid as ever, as if it were the Air 13".
Going big does also mean a slight increase in weight. The Air 15" has a weight of 1.51kg or 3.3lbs whereas the Air 13" weighs in at 1.24kg or 2.7lbs. So if you're planning to daily the Air 15" wherever you go, do expect it to be just a tad heavier as compared to the Air 13". However, we would say that increase in weight is pretty insignificant. More so than anything, it'll be the fact that this is a 15" form factor. So do ensure that you actually have a bigger backpack to safely transport the laptop around.
That Bigger Display
But now let's talk about that display because... come on, why else would you be looking at the Air 15" for?
Lift up the lid and you'll be greeted with a 15.3" Liquid Retina display that sports a resolution of 2,880 x 1,864. This very display will also be capable of up to 500 nits of brightness, support P3 colour and offers True Tone support.
To keep it really short, this display is downright fantastic but not perfect. For starters, the 15.3" size is a really nice upgrade over the Air 13" and is a nice balance between the Pro 14" and the Pro 16". It hits that sweet middle spot. We used the Air 15" pretty much constantly over the weekend and we're glad to say that it performs admirably well.
Documents, browsing, entertainment, you name it. Everything was superb with top notch text clarity and colours that are vibrant and deep. At least, to be expected from a high-quality IPS panel which Apple is using here. Where we felt that the display fell short has actually more to do with the pricing and position which Apple placed the Air 15" in.
Apple Is Smart With Pricing
If we were to spec up the Air 15" to have 16GB of Unified Memory and 512GB of SSD storage, the Air 15" will set you back S$2,499 or US$1,699. The Pro 14" with the same amount of RAM and SSD will set you back S$2,899 or US$1,999. For just about S$400, you'll be getting a much nicer display that's actually using a mini-LED panel with ProMotion no less and alongside a more powerful M2 Pro and way more ports no less.
Now don't get us wrong, we aren't saying that the display on the Air 15" is bad. Far from it. It's just the way Apple has priced and divided their product segments to which we feel is a little bit of a letdown.
Nevertheless, let's move on to the other great things about the Air 15" for there is still quite a bit.
Just like with the Air 13", you still get the great 1080P FaceTime HD Camera which has great image quality. Combined with the superb sounding microphones, the video call experience on the Air 15" is arguably one of the best and sits right in line with the rest of MacBook lineup. Except the MacBook Pro 13" of course, we don't talk about that. Move downwards and we still get the same great keyboard and trackpad as with any other Macbook which is still largely unmatched with most, if not all, of the offerings from the Windows camp. Touch ID is also here to stay which makes logging into your Mac as easy as ever.
Speakers Are Awesome
But now let's talk about the biggest upgrade by far. The speakers.
The very first thing you'll notice is that the Air 15" has a really 'clean' chassis. By that, we mean that you'll likely notice the lack of speaker grilles by the sides of the keyboard deck. It's just clean aluminium here which actually gave us a little bit of Surface Laptop vibes. Whether or not you prefer this design over the more standard look that MacBooks usually have, that's entirely up to you. However, definitely do not dismiss the quality of the speakers simply because there isn't any grilles present.
The speakers sound great and we daresay it's pretty much on par with that on the 14 Pro.
The Air 15" features a six-speaker sound system which comprises two pairs of force-cancelling woofers and two tweeters. And in essence, Apple designed it in a way where it blasts sound out the vents near the hinge and that reflects off the display back to your ears. It even supports Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos for added depth and immersion. But to keep it simple, it sounds amazing and it wouldn't disappoint for most people.
The Pro 16" still has the best speakers by far but the Air 15" is right up there with the Pro 14", which means this is a solid second. And hey! A solid second is still leaps and bounds better than almost any Windows-based laptop.
M2 Is Still Really Capable, As Ever
And now we talk about M2.
To which... we've nothing much to add on really. It's amazing. Simple as that. M2 is more than capable of taking on pretty much any daily task you would need to do with your Air 15" and even take on some creative workloads such as photo editing and even video editing. Do note however that the Air 15" retains the fan-less design of the Air 13", staying true to the Air name.
Pros and cons here.
The main pro would be the fact that you're really getting a silent workhorse. There's nothing quite like working on the laptop that wouldn't get annoying loud whenever there's a significant workload. It really is an experience that is unmatched. On the other hand however, that also means that there is a limit to how much Apple can push the M2 chip even with the larger chassis.
But that then ties us into the battery life. Thanks to a larger 66.5Wh battery, Apple claims the same battery life as with the Air 13", up to 18 hours of use. However, that metric is derived from Apple TV movie app playback. The more important number would be up to 15 hours on wireless web.
In our experience, we got pretty darn close to that magical number, coming in around 12 hours. Needless to say, it's impressive. You can definitely go about a day without bringing along the charger. Even if you did really forgot however, you can easily top up the Air 15" via Type-C with any other charger, really.
It's The Bigger Air!
So we've tried the MacBook Air 15" for at least 48 hours now and while we might still have some concerns which we'll address in our full review, overall, we're still really impressed by it.
If you've been looking for a larger MacBook Air this whole time, Apple has finally answered your prayers.