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  • Soon Kai Hong

The MacBook Air 15” Is Awesome In ‘Almost’ Every Way

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

So we have the MacBook Air 15 for about a couple of weeks now and this is one heck of a laptop. The Apple M2 chip is amazing, the larger 15.3” display is gorgeous and despite the frame being just 11.5mm thin, it’s superb and robust in build quality. If you’re looking for a bigger MacBook Air, this is basically it.

Except if you were to spec up the Air, spec for spec, against the Pro 14”, you’re only saving just about US$300 or S$400. Are the savings worth it? It depends on you. Do you prefer the Air or do you need the Pro?

Design

When it comes to the MacBook Air 15”, we don’t really need to talk much about the design, really. Essentially, take the MacBook Air 13” with M2 and upsize it. Seriously, that's it. It looks exactly the same as the smaller sibling and is available in the same four gorgeous colours.

MacBook
MacBook

As you can probably tell, we have the Starlight here which isn’t our favourite for sure, but it still looks stunning nonetheless. We really wished we got the opportunity to try out the Midnight but perhaps another day it is.


In any case, if you love the design of the Air 13” with M2, you’ll definitely love the design of the Air 15”, also with M2.


The only thing you’ll really need to take into consideration would be the actual physical size of the larger chassis. While it might only weigh just about 1.51kg or 3.3lbs, it is still a 15” device which means you’ll have to lug around a bigger backpack should you be carrying this around daily.


Now of course, you do still get the same great keyboard and touchpad which adorns every single MacBook in Apple’s lineup and we can only say that it performs absolutely stellar. While some Windows-based laptops do offer a slightly better typing experience, Apple has definitely hit a sweet spot with theirs. If we shift our focus to the touchpad however, practically nothing in the Windows camp comes close. Apple is still king here.


Of course, there’s still Touch ID for security and authentication and it’s probably second nature by this point in time for any current MacBook users.

The Six-Speaker Setup

Now this is where we want to touch on something that’s kind of hidden with the MacBook Air 15” and we’re talking about the speakers. Just like the rest of the Air lineup, Apple has chosen not to implement speaker grilles into the chassis itself. But unlike the smaller Air 13”, this decision is really obvious right from the start and it’s something you’ll probably take note of right away. Because the Air 15” retains the same exact keyboard as the Air 13”, the frame extends much wider on the sides and it’s just… empty.

MacBook
MacBook

Some might prefer this look, some might not. For us, it was certainly weird at first but we quickly got used to it. The more pressing question however is the fact that some might feel that the audio quality would be affected, seeing as there isn’t any outlet for the sound to be projected properly. All we can say is that, you needn’t worry. Not at all. Because the speakers on the Air 15” is on par with that of the Pro 14” which makes it the second best sounding laptop in Apple’s lineup.


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 projects all that 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.


In practice, it sounds really awesome and you might even be taken aback at first listen. Listening to tunes while working on this script was plenty enjoyable and it can get loud enough to fill a small room and let you enjoy your content in all its glory.


To keep it simple, you can choose not to put on your favourite pair of cans. It’s simply great.

Finally... A Bigger Display For The Air!

Which ties us in to the biggest reason as to why you might even consider the Air 15”. So let’s talk about the display.

MacBook
MacBook

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 and will be plenty enjoyable for anything ranging from browsing, content consumption and even content creation. For starters, the 15.3" size is a really nice upgrade over the 13.4” 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.


The notch is also here to stay with this larger Air and it really doesn’t bother us all that much by this point in time. It’s there but it’s out of the way and the 1080P FaceTime HD Camera is just plain good.


However, the overall visual experience is far from perfect. And the reason for that has nothing to really do with the actual panel itself, but more so, on the price.


But let’s first talk about the performance of M2 and Apple’s decision to retain the fanless design with the larger chassis.


In our opinion, it performs great, no qualms about it. With how Apple designed the Air and what it is intended to be used for, the M2 chip is more than capable of handling all those tasks. Multiple tabs open in Safari or Chrome, playback of high-quality video and audio, being able to get through an entire work day with multiple applications open without breaking a sweat, you name it.


Even when we talk about content creation, M2 can still very much handle simple 4K edits. Overall, we’re pleased with the performance and we don’t expect much more. More is great, but it’s not needed here. Which leads us to our next point.

Apple Is Sly With Pricing

You can experience the MacBook Air 15” with M2 and pretty much everything it offers from a great starting price of just US$1,299 or S$1,899. However, for that, you only get 8GB of Unified Memory and 256GB of SSD storage.


If we were to spec it up to our own recommendations when considering buying a new MacBook, we would highly suggest upping the memory to 16GB and the storage to 512GB. But now, you’re looking at a price of US$1,699 or S$2,499.


You know what else is very similar in terms of price? The baseline MacBook Pro 14” with M2 Pro. With the same 16GB of Unified Memory and 512GB of SSD storage, that will set you back US$1,999 or S$2,899. Now you might argue that it is still a substantial difference and $3-400 is no small amount. But let’s break it down and we’ll explain why the difference in price doesn’t amount to much here.


With the Pro 14”, not only are you getting a more powerful M2 Pro chip, you’re also getting way more ports and perhaps best of all, that 14.2” Liquid Retina XDR display with a much higher resolution and support for TrueMotion. That display alone warrants the upgrade in our opinion.

Our Recommendation

But with all that being said, we did also mention that you don’t really need that much with the Air, especially for what it is, so here’s our two cents as to which you should veer towards should you be considering between the two.

MacBook
MacBook

If you know that you’re more of a power user, even if just slightly, fork out that additional 3-400 bucks and go with Pro 14”. Sure, you might be getting slightly less battery life but that ProMotion display is a huge game changer and not to mention, you get more ports, you get the M2 Pro and it doesn’t even weigh that much more at 1.6kg or 3.5lbs.


But if you’re a light user and you love everything about the Air 13” with M2 but just want a bigger display, go with the Air 15” with M2 because it is essentially that. While 3-400 bucks might not be a whole lot when you compare feature set to feature set, it is still 3-400 bucks which is going to mean a whole lot to many of you out there who’re tight on a budget but would still very much like the best Apple can offer.


At the very least, we’re glad that there is an option to consider and for all of you who’ve been waiting for a larger MacBook Air, well, here it is.

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