We've been huge fans of the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air ever since Apple released it back in 2022. From the incredible new screen to the contemporary, MacBook Pro-inspired design, the M2 model brought the previously neglected Air into the 2020s with style. And this year, by popular demand, Apple launched a bigger version of its most lightweight laptop.
Internally, the 15-inch MacBook Air is remarkably similar to its smaller sibling, right down to the M2 chip, and graphics and camera specs. It's just bigger – but it's also one of the thinnest and lightest 15-inch notebooks available. And while the screen size increase brings an accompanying price bump (the 15-inch model starts at $1,299), there isn't much competition when it comes to the MacBook Air's combination of portability and power. And that larger screen could make it the best option for creatives.
We've put the MacBook Air 15-inch through its paces, rigorously testing its performance with both day-to-day tasks and applications, and more creatively demanding tools such as Photoshop and Final Cut Pro. For more information about our review process, see how we test laptops.
MacBook Air M2 (15-inch, 2023) review: Design and display
You're going to hear a lot over the course of this review about how similar this MacBook Air is to its smaller, 13-inch sibling. But the key point of difference is, of course, the size. That's right – the display is a whole two inches bigger. And it makes all the difference.
The 15-inch Liquid Retina display is the laptop's headline feature, and it really pops. At 2,880 x 1,864, it offers a brilliantly crisp viewing experience, and at 500 nits, it's just as bright as the 13-inch model. And that extra space is perfect for information-dense creative apps such as Final Cut and Logic Pro.
The design itself makes a delightfully refreshing change from that of the M1 MacBook Air, which sported an almost decades-old design. Here, Apple has adopted the somewhat controversial 'notch' above the display, sticking the 1080p FaceTime camera into a protrusion that slightly interrupts the menu bar. But while the notch is a trade-off, the updated design includes tiny bezels around the display, which manage to look even smaller on the 15-inch model.
CPU: Apple M2 (10-core)
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 16GB Unified LPDDR5
Screen: 15.3-inch, 2,880 x 1,864 Liquid Retina display (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)
Storage: 512TB SSD
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3 charging port
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight: 3.3 pounds (1.51 kg)
Size: 13.4 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches
At 1.15cm thick and with a weight of 1.51kg, the 15-inch MacBook Air is almost ridiculously thin and light for its size – making it a seriously portable option for creatives who find a 13-inch display a little too cramped.
In terms of ports, the 15-inch Air features (again, like the 13-inch model) two USB-C ports and a magnetic MagSafe charging port on the left-hand side, and a headphone jack on the right. This is one area creative pros might find wanting – users will find an extra USB-C port as well as HDMI on the 2023 MacBook Pro.
The trackpad offers plenty of space, and the keyboard, thankfully, is far better than the fail-prone 'butterfly' monstrosities that plagued MacBooks from 2015 until recently. Here, we have a super responsive and tactile 'scissor-switch' design with keys that can be replaced individually if necessary. Rejoice!
MacBook Air M2 (15-inch, 2023) review: Performance
Apple silicon has already proven an incredible addition to the Mac line up, and the M2 chip doesn't disappoint here. While the base model of the 13-inch MacBook Air comes with an 8-core GPU that can be upgraded to 10-core, the 15-inch is only available with 10-core. (The only configurable aspect of the 15-inch model is storage, with either 256GB or 512GB base storage available.)
Unsurprisingly, then, we found that the 15-inch MacBook Air performs pretty much identically to the 13-inch model. From day-to-day tasks like browsing the web and writing up documents, to editing 4K video and using Photoshop’s AI tools, the machine doesn't struggle with advanced creative processes. The only thing to keep an eye on is heat – as the Air doesn't feature fans (unlike the MacBook Pro), performance can eventually become limited at high temperatures. But in our testing, this only happened once while editing 4k video at the same time as Photoshop.
Here’s how the MacBook Air (15-inch, 2023) performed in our benchmark tests:
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,908; Multi-Core: 8,932
Battery Life (movie test): 17 hours and 2 minutes
One of the most important aspects of performance is battery life, and the MacBook Air 15-inch performs brilliantly in this regard. The machine can last an entire day, even when performing creative tasks. Apple claims up to up to 18 hours Apple TV app movie playback, which is just one hour more than we actually managed to squeeze out of the device in our looping movie test.
And while there aren't a huge amount of improvements over the 13-inch model, one aspect that has been given a bump is the internal speaker system. Instead of four, the 15-inch MacBook Air features 6 speakers with "force-cancelling woofers". Compared with the 13-inch Air, the difference is immediately noticeable – songs sound much louder and punchier.
MacBook Air M2 (15-inch, 2023) review: Price
While we're blown away by the design and performance of the 15-inch MacBook Air, it doesn't come cheap. Starting at $1,299/£1,399 for the 256GB version and rising to $1,499/£1,599 for 512GB, it's certainly one of the pricier 15-inch notebooks available.
With the M1 MacBook Air starting at $999/£999, you're definitely paying a lot more for the 2023 model. But with that, you're getting a fresh, contemporary design, the incredible power of the M2 chip and, perhaps most importantly, that bigger display.
For the same starting price of $1299, you can bag the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 chip featuring some minor performance improvements and more ports. But that model features an older, heavier design – and if portability matters to you, the Air is an easy recommendation.
MacBook Air M2 (15-inch, 2023) review: Should you buy it?
There's no denying that the new MacBook Air is one of the most impressive 15-inch notebooks around both in terms of performance, and portability. The impossibly light and thin design is delightfully contemporary, and the M2 chip offers impressive performance when it comes to creative tasks.
Whether this is the laptop for you boils down to two factors: size and price. The 15-inch model is perfect for information-heavy interfaces, and for creatives working in visual mediums, that two-inch size bump could make all the difference. But if you're more interested in keeping things as small and light as possible, you might want to look at the 13-inch model, which offers pretty much identical performance.
That model could also save you $200, starting at $1099 as opposed to the 15-inch model's $1299. But while it isn't the cheapest option out there, the 15-inch MacBook Air could be the perfect option for many creatives, offering a sweet spot between performance and size.