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Apple just unveiled the M3 MacBook Air, and there’s one big bombshell

M3 Apple MacBook Air pictured from head on against a white background

The M3 MacBook Air is here, but it has dropped the M1 MacBook Air in the process

We were expecting Apple to announce new M3-based MacBook Air models this month but not with as little fanfare as this. Apple has just unveiled the new machines via press release, with both the 13.6in and 15in models getting an M3-chip upgrade for 2024.

The two laptops will be available from 8 March 2024, with prices starting at a surprisingly affordable £1,099 for the 13.6in model and £1,299 for the 15in. That’s £50 cheaper than the equivalent M2 when it first launched, and (for the 13.6in model at least), a significant £600 cheaper than the 14in MacBook Pro with the same processor. Base storage is, however, still a limited 256GB, while Unified Memory allocations start at 8GB.

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The good news is that this means the M2 13.6in MacBook Air – among our favourite laptops of the last two years – is now £999 – a bargain for a laptop as capable as this. However, the 15in M2 MacBook Air has disappeared from Apple’s website, along with the original M1. You can still pick up a M1 MacBook Air on Amazon for around £780 for the time being, but expect stock to run dry pretty soon.

As you might expect for a laptop launched in 2024, Apple is leaning pretty heavily on its AI capabilities, which come courtesy of the M3 chip’s embedded 16-core Neural Engine. But, truth be told, there isn’t an awful lot new here. The M3 in the MacBook Air is the same that comes with the base MacBook Pro 14in.

13.6in and 15.3in M3 MacBook Airs stacked on top of one another

The base £1,099 13.6in model comes with an M3 with has 8 CPU cores (split into 4 performance and 4 efficiency cores) and 8 GPU cores. Moving up to the £1,299 model gets you a slightly more powerful 10-core GPU, along with 512GB of storage, although RAM stays at 8GB.

If you want to boost the memory and storage even further, you can go up to 24GB and 2TB respectively, although a fully tricked-out MacBook Air 13.6in will cost you £2,299 while the 15in is £2,499.

The M3 chassis and the Liquid Retina display remain the same as on the M2 MacBook Air models – resolution is still 2,560 x 1,664 (for the 13.6in MacBook) or 2,880 x 1,864 (for the 15.3in machine) and brightness peaks at 500 nits – it still comes with MagSafe charging and it’s still fanless. There’s no change to the battery life claims, either. These are still the same as the previous generation with a quoted 18 hours of Apple TV movie playback and up to 15 hours “wireless web” usage.

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Not that this is a bad thing. In our battery tests, we had the 13.6in M2 MacBook Air lasting 17 hours playing video locally, which is much longer than any rival Windows laptop.

And Apple also says the new M3 MacBook Airs are the first it has produced with 50% recycled materials. Buying a new laptop still isn’t good for the planet, but at least this MacBook Air will have slightly less of a negative impact.

You can preorder the M3 MacBook Airs right now and the new machines will start arriving with customers from 6 March. We’ll have a full review for you just as soon as we get our hands on one. Watch this space.

M3 MacBook Air colours

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