I switched to the 15-inch MacBook Air – it's a game-changer for Apple

I didn't expect the 15-inch version of the MacBook Air to be so revelatory – but here's why it changes everything

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M2 2023 review
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

I've spent the last five days using the all-new MacBook Air 15-inch and it's a game-changer for Apple – something that I honestly hadn't expected as it's "just a bigger Air". But in terms of it elbowing many of the best MacBook options aside, this larger-display Mac has proven revelatory.

Sandwiched in-between the 13-inch MacBook Air M2 and 16-inch MacBook Pro M2 Pro, the new 15.3-inch form of MacBook Air is very savvily positioned both in terms of price and power. Indeed, even if you're seeking out one of the best lightweight laptops, then this new Mac holds its own compared to its smaller competitors. 

Now I'm almost a week into using the 15-inch MacBook Air, here are three features that make it stand out from other Mac options. So if you're buying a new Air, there are a number of reasons the smaller 13-inch model might no longer be the default in your shopping basket...

1. The display, obviously

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M2 2023 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

I know, I know, this is obvious really, isn't it? The bigger MacBook Air comes with a bigger screen. But that's a major shift for this series, which has been firmly situated in the 13-inch camp for years now. Previously there was even an 11-inch Air, which has long been discontinued. So for Apple to push into the 15-inch realm for its consumer laptop range – as the 16-inch MacBook Pro is a whole other game – is a big deal.

What I really love about the new MacBook Air's screen is, well, it's a couple of things actually: first, it's a 15.3-inch panel, making it marginally but sensibly smaller than the 15.6-inch norm in the market; second, its resolution, brightness, colour gamut capability, and all that important stuff is identical to the 13.6-inch MacBook Air M2 – albeit at a larger scale. 

That means a 224ppi density from the 2880 x 1864 pixel resolution. That means 500 nits of brightness to cater for high dynamic range (HDR) content, plus a not-too-reflective coating to assist with outside and on-the-go working. That means one billion colours. But it does also mean there's a notch around the front-facing camera (which for my apps is often just hidden), and it also means no faster refresh rate (it's 60Hz here, not 120Hz as you can get from the Pro models). But, on balance, all that adds up to a super visual fidelity package.

2. The battery life is amazing

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M2 2023 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

Given that Apple's M2 silicon is under the hood – in 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU format only; thus it's more powerful in graphical terms than the entry-level 13-inch model – you might wonder how the battery life holds up. In a word: amazingly. I've been impressed by, once again, how the bigger Mac equals its smaller cousin equivalent in terms of longevity. 

I can easily work unplugged with multiple browsers and dozens of tabs, Bluetooth running my music, screen brightness around three quarters full, and hit a near 14 hour day on this laptop. Not that I've been pushing it that far: a 9 hour workday saw some 35% battery remaining, which is great innings if you ask me. 

Interestingly, too, the 15-inch MacBook Air ships with a 35W charger, which features two USB-C outputs, plus an included cable for MagSafe, which is the preferred form of charging. But you can use the USB/Thunderbolt port if you're in a tight spot which is great. You can also upgrade the charger to a 70W one at checkout (or purchase separately) for even quicker top-ups, which adds yet another dimension to functionality. 

3. It's still light and portable

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M2 2023 review

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

When Apple announced the 15-inch MacBook Air at its worldwide developers' conference (WWDC 2023), it quoted it as "the world's thinnest 15-inch laptop". At 11.5mm that's an impressive output, especially as it's only 0.2mm thicker than the 13-inch Air equivalent. It's lightweight, too, at 3.3lbs (1.51kg).

Which genuinely means it's a portable proposition. I've got to be at an airport tomorrow morning and, despite this not being my work laptop, I'm considering taking it as the be-all solution for my travels. I love working on the bigger screen, plus I can login to Netflix after I'm all done and get that bigger scale. It's really ideal. 

Speaking of Netflix, or any content for that matter: as a bit of a bonus the 15-inch MacBook Air features a new six-speaker arrangement that sounds pretty phenomenal considering it's being output from the body of a laptop. You don't fundamentally need a pair of the best headphones to appreciate audio from this laptop, which could mean one less thing to carry...

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor and AV Editor at T3.com. He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 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 products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a 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.