Which MacBook Air is better: 15-inch or 13-inch?

Can't decide between Apple's new 15-inch or 13-inch MacBook Air? Here's a comparison to help your buying decision

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch versus 13-inch
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

As an avid user of the best MacBooks – I'm typing this on the 13-inch MacBook Air, which I use every single day – I was captivated by Apple's speedy announcement at its WWDC 2023 conference that it was to launch a 15-inch MacBook Air too. Colour me interested. 

As someone who has invested in the 13-inch model (well, mine is the discounted M1 version), of course, this made me wonder if I'd made a mistake: should I have waited until the 15-inch model launched for all that additional screen real-estate? Indeed, what else is different about the larger new MacBook Air that might also appeal?

So many questions, but that's what this article will answer. Here's how the 15-inch MacBook Air differs from its 13-inch cousin and which is the best fit for your Apple laptop needs...

MacBook Air 15in vs 13in: Price & Availability

One of the best things about the 15-inch MacBook Air's announcement? It came with an immediate price reduction for the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air. That in itself will further add appeal to the 2022 model, if price is the biggest dictator for your purchase.

That means the entry-level MacBook Air 13-inch M2 now starts at £1,149/$1,099. The larger-scale MacBook Air 15-inch M2 starts at £1,399/$1,299. As is typical the United States gets a better overall deal compared to the UK, but that just is what it is. 

MacBook Air 15in vs 13in: Design & Ports

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Row 0 - Cell 0 13-inch M2 (2022)15-inch M2 (2023)
Thickness:1.13cm (0.44 inches)1.15cm (0.45 inches)
Weight:1.24kg (2.7 pounds)1.51kg (3.3 pounds)
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt / USB 4 | 1x MagSafe power2x Thunderbolt / USB 4 | 1x MagSafe power
Colours: Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, SilverMidnight, Starlight, Space Gray, Silver

As you can see from the specification skinny above, the difference between the 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models is fairly marginal. Apple has barely added any additional thickness to the larger model's frame, it's just the footprint that's bigger. 

When it comes to ports and general appearance, too, it's largely business as usual: the two laptops look almost identical, with a MagSafe charging port, meaning the two USB-C ports are always available even when plugged into charge. 

The main telltale differentiator between the two is otherwise the size and inevitable weight difference. Oh, and the 15-inch model also offers an even better soundsystem, with six speakers making up its audio outfit.

MacBook Air 15in vs 13in: Display

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Row 0 - Cell 0 13-inch M2 (2022)15-inch M2 (2023)
Resolution: 2560 x 1664 pixels2880 x 1864 pixels

The biggest reason to buy a 15-inch MacBook Air? I mean the clue's in the name really: it's bigger, thanks to a 15.3-inch panel compared to the 13.6-inch diagonal on the smaller model. 

Otherwise these two Liquid Retina display-toting models have the same set of features: both are 500 nits in brightness and can handle HDR, both offer True Tone for ambient light colour adjustment, both offer a circa 227ppi pixel density for crisp visuals, and both feature the notch where the 1080p webcam is tucked away.  

MacBook Air 15in vs 13in: Power & Battery

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Row 0 - Cell 0 13-inch M2 (2022)15-inch M2 (2023)
Silicon:Apple M2 onlyApple M2 only
CPU & GPU: 8-core + 8- or 10-core options8-core + 10-core only
Unified memory (RAM):8GB standard (16GB/24GB options)8GB standard (16GB/24GB options)
Battery: 52.6-watt-hour 66.5-watt-hour
Charger: 30W USB-C (with 8+8 core) / 35W Dual Port (with 8+10 core)35W Dual Port Power Adapter | uses MagSafe

When it comes to power under the hood, both 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models use Apple's M2 silicon. However, while the 13-inch model enters with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU variant, the 15-inch model ups the GPU to 10-core. So entry-level compared to entry-level the larger MacBook is the more powerful. However, if you want then you can upgrade the smaller laptop to match that – it'll just cost you more cash.

When it comes to memory, 8GB unified memory (effectively RAM, just shared across CPU and GPU) is the entry-level standard. You can pick 16GB or 24GB if you'd prefer and wish to pay for it, it's the same options in both models as that's where Apple's M2 tops out (M2 Pro, M2 Max and M2 Ultra, which you don't get in the Air line, can go beyond this).

In terms of longevity Apple provides the same quote per charge: up to 18 hours. The additional screen size and pixel volume is offset by a larger capacity battery, but in terms of operation you can expect similar usage times. The included charger, however, is a little faster for the 15-inch model by default (you can buy faster charger for either model though). 

MacBook Air 15in vs 13in: Which is best for me?

So there we have it: the MacBook Air M2 is now available in 15-inch or 13-inch versions and the key difference is as obvious as it seems – a larger screen.

If you want the larger screen then you'll need to pay a little more of course. By default you're rewarded with more GPU power in the larger machine (the 13-inch can match it, if you specify and up your budget), and better sound thanks to a six-speaker system too.

Longevity is expected to be the same, sharpness from the two screens is on balance, so the experience is largely very similar, which ultimately makes your choice all about budget and desire for display scale. Decisions decisions...

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor at T3.com. He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and, as a phones expert, has seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone too (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech and audio aficionado his beat at T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a tech stone unturned he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for 10 years, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.