The new Apple MacBook Air with M2 chip and 15.3-inch display is actually just a bigger variant of the 13-inch MacBook Air that was introduced last year. However, this additional viewing real estate is a significant game changer in the end. On top of that, you can already buy this computer for $1,299 a pop. This is a lot of money, but the excellent price-to-performance proposition makes it viable when you look at the overall package. However, there are also some points that you should definitely consider before bringing one home.
- Great, large, and also bright display
- All-day battery life
- Beautiful, slim, and very light
- Very quiet
- Top notch performance
- 35-watt charger charges the MacBook too slowly
- Only two Thunderbolt ports
- Not backwards compatible with selected peripherals
The MacBook Air M2 in a nutshell
The new MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) has been available since June 13, 2023. Prices start from $1,299 if you select the most basic configuration (8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 8 GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD). At this point, it should be noted that MacBooks cannot be upgraded and the configuration you select upon purchase plays a major role in your decision.
For instance, if you like to leave many Chrome browser windows open or use other programs that consume a lot of resources, you should consider getting at least 16 GB of RAM right from the beginning. In my experience, you quickly hit the limit with 8 GB of RAM. You will have to top up another $200 for every additional 8 GB.
Apple also continues to sell the variant with the M1 chip with a starting price of $999.
Apple MacBook Air 15 M2 design and build quality
Compared to the smaller 13-inch variant, the 15-inch MacBook Air M2 has a larger surface area. Apple uses this for a significantly larger trackpad compared to the 13-inch version. In addition, the edges next to the keyboard are much wider. However, no hardware is installed where the speakers are in the current MacBook Pro. For me, this took some getting used to because I was so familiar with the small holes that indicated the presence of speakers. Believe me—that will come.
- Thin and light build.
- Larger trackpad.
- Unused space around the keyboard.
If you like thin laptops, you'll love the MacBook Air M2. I have yet to come across a Windows notebook that is so thin and yet sturdy at the same time. It measures a mere 11.5 millimeters and is absolutely stable thanks to the aluminum chassis used. Tipping the scales at approximately 1.5 kilograms, the MacBook Air M2 is 270 grams heavier than the 13-inch version. However, it looks surprisingly light in the hand.
If you were to order your new MacBook directly from Apple, you can choose between a 35- or 70-watt power supply. The 35-watt power supply has two USB-C ports, while the 70-watt power supply has only one. In our nextpit review, we received a device with a 35-watt charger. Unfortunately, it took a painfully long time to completely recharge the laptop. If a higher charging speed is important to you, you ought to go for the 70-watt power supply.
The charging cable has the magnetic Magsafe connector and comes covered in fabric to match the case color and feels very high-quality.
When it comes to colors, you have a choice of four colors for the MacBook Air M2. Apple offers the computer in Space Gray, Silver, Starlight, and Midnight. What we have to take note of at this point is how those who hate leaving greasy fingerprints behind should avoid buying one of these bad boys. If you still want one, make sure you have a soft cloth in your pocket at all times. At least with the model we reviewed, it attracted fingerprints like moths to a flame.
Apple MacBook Air 15 M2 display
The main star of this review is, of course, the 15.3-inch display of the MacBook Air M2. Regardless of the fact that I am really happy that Apple finally offers a 15-inch model after a long time (most recently, there were only portable Apple computers with 13-, 14-, or even 16-inches), making it a real feast for the eyes. Its resolution of 2,880 x 1,864 px is razor sharp and with 500 nits of brightness, it is enough to use in bright environments. The display does reach its brightness limit under direct sunlight, but that is a rare occasion that applies only to myself. After all, very few people can work diligently in direct sunlight.
- Bright, high-resolution screen.
- The notch is an acquired taste.
Unfortunately, Apple did not make an exception for the 15-inch MacBook Air M2 and included a rather unsightly notch in the upper center display to accommodate the webcam. Personally, this annoyed me quite a bit in the MacBook Pro as well. I have a relatively large number of icons that are located in the upper segment. In the 13-inch model, the webcam notch tends to cover important icons that you would actually need for daily use.
This is better on the 15-inch display as there is more wiggle room for my stored programs and they do not extend past the center. However, one does wonder whether there could have been a better solution for this.
All in all, however, this is nitpicking at a high level as there is really nothing much to complain about this display apart from this tiny annoyance.
Apple MacBook Air 15 M2 performance
The MacBook Air M2 15-inch is of course powered by Apple's very own M2 chip . This chipset is not only found in the current iPad Pro that was launched last year, it is also in the 13-inch MacBook Air and is also the heart of the current MacBook Pro. The M2 chip is thus getting long in the tooth and would most probably be replaced by its successor M3 soon.
- Unbeatable performance in the thin and light category.
- Lack of upgradability.
- Only two Thunderbolt ports.
However, the fact that there will be a successor soon is not a bad thing. The M2's power is impressive. It is very difficult to push the chipset to its limits and you have to let the computer do things that are normally handled by a MacBook Pro to hit such limits, such as 4K video editing.
However, if you want to do perform ordinary tasks with the computer—work on presentations, type, watch movies or pictures—then the M2 is perfect and might even get bored with its computing tasks. By the way, the MacBook doesn't have a fan installed and therefore doesn't make a sound.
It is important to mention yet again at this point that the MacBook cannot be upgraded at all. It is therefore essential to consider the amount of RAM and SSD capacity right at the very beginning. In my experience, you should not skimp on RAM in particular. Rather, you should start with too little. Otherwise, the small amount of memory could quickly turn out to be a bottleneck and thus an expensive mistake to remedy later. Therefore, my recommendation is to invest in the more expensive variant.
If you use a lot of peripherals, you will have to think carefully about whether the two Thunderbolt ports are sufficient for this purpose. I can easily connect everything I want via a hub. But if you want to work with more than two monitors, the MacBook Air might not offer enough options.
Apple MacBook Air 15 M2 audio
Apple has provided the MacBook Air M2 15-inch with a new audio system and now uses six speakers instead of the four in the smaller model . The sound is good and the other party can be clearly heard during video conferences. However, you should not expect rich bass or even room-filling sound. It probably goes without saying, but this laptop was not designed for that.
Apple MacBook Air 15 M2 battery
Apple specified a runtime of its 66.5 watt-hour battery up to 18 hours . Of course, the actual number depends on how far you push the processor or how bright the display is. In our nextpit review, we always managed to use it for the entire day without running out of juice.
- Excellent battery life.
- 35 W charger is slow (but you can order a 70 W option).
For a long time now, I always had large notebooks so that I can arrange multiple windows at work. The downside was the weight of the old MacBook Pro models placed a lot of pressure on my shoulders when traveling. That's why I opted for a 13-inch MacBook for my last two purchases.
However, the new 15-inch MacBook Air is so thin and light that I carried it with me on my trips as my primary work device. Compared to my 13-inch MacBook Pro (from 2022), I have comparable performance and battery life, with just 100 grams of additional weight and significantly more display area. Price-wise, the 15-inch MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are virtually identical.
Please do not misunderstand: There are clear differences between MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. However, these are mainly noticeable when it comes to "Pro" functions and you have to work with graphics, rendering, software coding, or something similar. If you were to primarily use the computer for common office tasks, you should hardly notice any differences between the two models.
The fact that MacBooks cannot be upgraded is a bit difficult to swallow, and upgrades to the RAM or storage capacity quickly make the computer expensive. Still, my advice is to invest in at least 16 GB of RAM.
The new MacBook Air M2 with a 15-inch display is as thin and light as probably a few other laptops in this class. Anyone who has ever used a MacBook knows that Apple offers many years of product support for its computers and that the computers will still be easily usable even in five years' time.
If you are currently looking for a new laptop, you should definitely check out the MacBook Air M2 as one of the shortlisted candidates.