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Apple 15-inch MacBook Air review (M2, 2023): The best just got bigger

Our Rating :
£1,279.97 from
Price when reviewed : £1399
inc VAT

The 15in MacBook Air is expensive but is undoubtedly the most versatile 15in laptop around


  • Slim and beautifully made
  • Fantastic speakers and screen
  • Long battery life


  • More expensive than 13.6in model
  • Short on ports
  • Display refresh rate is only 60Hz

The 15in M2 MacBook Air is nothing particularly new but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, its 13in counterpart has been our favourite laptop since launch back at the beginning of 2022 and this doesn’t change all that that much.

Aside from the larger screen, which necessitates the use of a bigger chassis and a larger battery, the 15in model is exactly the same as its smaller sibling. It’s more expensive, of course, but it has all the same strengths and the same weaknesses as the smaller model.

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15in Apple MacBook Air review (M2, 2023): What you need to know

In short, if you always looked upon the MacBook Air with covetous eyes but couldn’t justify shelling out because you needed more screen real estate, then this is the laptop for you. It’s a fairly simple proposition and one I’m surprised Apple has taken this long to bring to market. After all, the 15in and 16in MacBook Pro models have been around for absolutely ages.

The new 15in MacBook Air has a display that measures 15.3in across the diagonal – this is 12.5% bigger than the 13.6in MacBook Air. The chassis measures 340 x 238 x 11.5mm (WDH) when closed and weighs 1.51kg. The battery, with a 66.5Wh capacity, is rated at 18 hours of video playback by Apple. That’s exactly the same as the 13.6in MacBook Air.

Just like the current 13.6in MacBook Air, it’s powered by the Apple M2 chip with either 8GB, 16GB or 24GB of unified memory and the storage offering starts at 512GB and rises to 2TB for the top specification model. You also get a choice of two different power supplies: the 35W dual USB-C adapter or the faster, 70W single USB-C port charger.

There is one more aspect of the 15in M2 Apple MacBook Air that differs from its smaller sibling and that is the speaker system; it has six-speakers instead of the four inside the 13.6in M2 MacBook Air.

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15in Apple MacBook Air review (M2, 2023): Price and competition

Configuration tested: Apple M2, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 15.3in, 60Hz, 2,880 x 1,864 Liquid Retina display; Price: £1,999 inc VAT

Naturally, the other major difference between the two laptops is the price and the gap between them isn’t insignificant. The starting price of the 15in MacBook Air is £1,399 – £250 more expensive than the 13in M2 Air – and that gets you a machine with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage.

Moving up to 16GB or 24GB of RAM adds £200 a time, as does increasing ths storage to 512GB and 1TB. If you want the full 2TB model, you’re looking at an £800 premium over the basic model. The most expensive 15in MacBook Air will set you back £2,599.

In terms of competition, the obvious alternative is the 13.6in M2 MacBook Air. It’s pretty much exactly the same as this machine, just a touch smaller, more portable and as I mentioned earlier, it’s a good deal cheaper. It’s also worth checking out the M1 MacBook Air, which is still a fine laptop, but a little slower and not quite as good when it comes to battery life. Apple still sells this for £999 and it comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

On the Windows side, there’s even more choice but our picks are currently the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i Gen 7 – a laptop that packs in an incredible amount of power into its slim frame, including a discrete Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU, at a reasonable price – and the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 3 14in. This is a slim laptop whose OLED display outshines even the MacBook Air’s excellent wide-gamut P3 screen. It’s available in 14in for £1,279 (Core i5-1340P, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) and 16in from £1,199 (Core i5-1340P, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD), both from Amazon.

15in Apple MacBook Air review (M2, 2023): Design and key features

The 15in MacBook Air inherits the same design language as its smaller sibling, eschewing the wedge profile of the M1 MacBook Air and its predecessors in favour of a squarer design that feels more modern. And, in keeping with its recent consumer Macs, the 15in MacBook Air is available in a range of colours. In addition to the standard silver and Space Grey, you can buy it in Midnight (pictured here) and Starlight.

My personal preference would be for Starlight or silver. The darker colours look good but I found that the Midnight model, in particular, picked up fingerprints rather too readily for my liking and had me reaching for the microfibre cloth every time I grabbed it to put it away in my laptop bag.

Like most modern MacBooks, the design is suitably minimalist. With the lid closed, only the Apple logo, four rubber feet on the underside and few ports around the edges are visible amongst the vast swathes of smooth anodised aluminium. And when you open it up, the clean lines continue, with the keyboard arranged in a neat, inset rectangle above the large Force Touch haptic touch pad.

It’s all very pretty indeed but, I must say, I would definitely sacrifice some of the neatness for an extra port or two. I would expect a 15in laptop to have more than two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a 3.5mm headset jack – perhaps an SD card slot, if not a legacy USB-A port. It is, however, good news that you don’t have to sacrifice a USB-C port in order to charge it, which is something that other ultraportable manufacturers could copy.

Still, what is here, is very much top of the class. The keyboard is spacious and comfortable to type on, albeit a touch on the rattly side for my liking. And that touchpad is fabulous to use. There’s acres of space in which to spread out and its both responsive and feels beautifully smooth under the finger.

Elsewhere, notable features are thin on the ground, certainly compared with the original M2 MacBook Air. As highlighted above, the only significant difference is the speaker system, which features six speakers instead of four. Everything else, including the Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 support, is exactly the same.

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15in Apple MacBook Air review (M2, 2023): Display and webcam

At 15.3in across the diagonal, the MacBook Air’s display is a touch smaller than your average 15in laptop – these tend to measure 15.6in – but it has a taller, more work-practical 16:10 aspect ratio. And, as usual with MacBooks these days, the pixel density yielded by the 2,880 x 1,864 resolution is 224ppi, so although it looks sharper on paper, in the real world it looks exactly the same.

All the usual Apple creature comforts are in play here, too. There’s wide P3 colour gamut reproduction and a selection of pre calibrated colour modes to choose from. A light sensor and automatic ambient light adjustment means the screen will adapt to your surroundings, ensuring it doesn’t use more power than it needs to, while True Tone will match the white point on screen to the white point of the lighting in your room.

The thing I like the least about the 15in MacBook Air is the infamous notch, which eats about 6mm into the the top of the display and houses the Face ID infrared camera apparatus. You’ll get used to it after a short while but it does seem unnecessary when there appears to be plenty of room for it in the current bezel for the camera sensor. Also worth noting is that the display only refreshes at 60Hz, which is disappointing when much of the premium competition in this price bracket is moving to 90Hz or above.

Under testing, the screen measures just as well as its smaller sibling. Brightness peaks at 531cd/m2, which is just a notch brighter than the stated 500nits (cd/m2 and nits are equivalent measurements), The contrast ratio is an acceptable, although not particularly amazing, 780:1, and the maximum colour reproduction sits at 95.6% of the P3 colour gamut (in the default Colour LCD profile).

What all this boils down to is that it’s a fine screen for working on but not quite a match for the best in the business when it comes to watching your Apple TV Plus and Netflix shows once you’ve downed tools at the end of the day.

That’s very much the case with the webcam, which produces a decent picture but one that’s patently not the sharpest or the most colour accurate you’ll see. There’s nothing wrong – it deals particularly well with extremes of bright and dark – but it isn’t up to the same standard as the webcams you’ll find in a Surface Laptop. I was disconcerted, in particular, with the rather pinkish hue it gave to my skin.

On the other hand, both the speakers and the microphone are excellent. The latter’s six drivers, including force-cancelling woofers for the left and right channels, fire audio out of the vent at the rear of the laptop and bounce sound waves off the surface of the screen, spreading it around the laptop in remarkably convincing fashion. Both the body and the volume are superlative but it’s the width of the sound stage that’s really impressive here, with convincing stereo imaging and sound effects in Dolby Atmos sound tracks positioned convincingly in the area around the laptop.

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15in Apple MacBook Air review (M2, 2023): Performance

There shouldn’t be anything particularly surprising to you here because the 15.3in MacBook Air uses precisely the same configuration of components as the 13.6in model. It has an octa-core Apple M2 chip powering affairs, backed by either 8GB, 16GB or 24GB of unified memory, and a 16-core neural processor.

Unsurprisingly, performance across our benchmarks is the same as with the M2 MacBook Air I reviewed last year, which is to say it’s good but Intel’s 13th Gen chips, at least the P-series and up, have now caught up, and anything with an H-series Intel chip, even from the earlier 12th Gen, will wipe the floor with it.

The advantages the 15in MacBook Air holds over its Windows counterparts are twofold: it has no fan, so remains completely silent while you work; and its battery is unmatched by anything we’ve seen from the current generation of Intel laptops. It lasted 15hrs 42mins in our video playback test, which we run with the display set to 170cd/m2 and the laptop in flight mode, to give the most consistent results. Having said that, if you want the best possible battery life, you’ll need to choose the 13.6in M2 MacBook Air as that’s our current record holder; it lasted 1hr 18mins longer in the same test.

The laptop’s SSD also delivers impressive performance, with the 1TB SSD in our review sample returning sustained read and write rates of 2,564MB/sec and 2,6576MB/sec respectively. That’s pretty much bang on the same level as it was with the 13.6in model.

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15in Apple MacBook Air review (M2, 2023): Verdict

The 15in Apple MacBook Air, as I said in the introduction to this review, is really a very simple proposition. It offers pretty much exactly the same package as the 13.6in model – from the screen all the way through to the storage and core performance and even the battery life. All that’s left for you to decide is whether you want the bigger screen or not, and whether or not you can put up with the weight penalty and the £250 higher price.

Either way, the 15in Apple MacBook Air is going to be all the laptop most people will ever need. It’s powerful enough to cope with most tasks, it’s silent, the screen is fantastic and the battery life is out of this world and far better than any equivalent Windows laptop can deliver. For sheer all-round flexibility this is the best 15in laptop you can currently buy.

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