apple macbook air 15 inch lid
aa2020 editors choice

Although Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Air M2 doesn’t revolutionize the lineup, it raises the bar in a big way. Its extra real estate goes a long way, and Apple’s efficient battery life goes even further. The M2 chip can keep up with just about all of your daily needs, and the six-speaker setup brings new depth to your desktop (or lap).

Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) review: At a glance

  • What is it? The MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) is the newest laptop in Apple’s lineup and marks a return to a screen size that hasn’t existed in a few years. It brings a 15.3-inch display back to the MacBook family and pairs it with the light, fanless design that MacBook Air users have come to expect. The 15-inch MacBook Air M2 also bumps to six speakers from the 13-inch MacBook Air M2 model’s four-speaker setup.
  • What is the price? The Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) starts at $1,299 for 256GB of storage, or you can upgrade to 512GB for $1,499. Other RAM and storage configurations can also increase the cost.
  • Where can you buy it? You can buy the Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) from many of the usual suspects, including Best Buy, Amazon, and, of course, Apple itself. The laptop went on sale on June 13, a week after its announcement as part of WWDC 2023.
  • How did we test it? I tested the Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) for two weeks. Android Authority purchased the review unit.
  • Is it worth it? If you love Apple’s lightweight, efficient MacBook Air but want more real estate, this is the laptop for you. The Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) has the battery life to go all day with the performance to handle everything most users will throw at it. Those of you after plenty of ports will still have to go Pro, but this MacBook Air is a master stroke for the rest of us.

Should you buy the Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch)?

apple macbook air 15 inch lightroom

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Take a walk around any college campus or any coffee shop in a big city, and you’re almost guaranteed to see a MacBook Air. Maybe it’s not a shiny, new, Apple silicon-powered model, but this light, thin laptop is a go-to for just about anyone who needs to balance power and portability. However, the thing that made the MacBook Air great — its on-the-go size — also held it back for multitaskers and power users. Neither the 11-inch nor the 13-inch displays offered enough real estate for some, so the iPhone-maker finally decided to go big and introduce this — its first 15-inch MacBook Air.

It’s almost unbelievable that Apple never launched a 15-inch, Intel-powered MacBook Air because, after just a few weeks, I’m convinced this is the perfect pairing of size and power. The MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) doesn’t look much different from its 13-inch sibling, nor does it run circles around it in terms of performance, but the extra real estate goes a long way. Quite simply, everything has a little more room to breathe. I love the extra space to stretch my WordPress layouts on the 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display. Other day-to-day tasks, like keeping Slack open in a small window, don’t feel like fitting college kids into a phone booth, and it’s comfortable taking briefing notes with Zoom open. If there’s one drawback to the sizable panel, it’s that Apple continues to roll with a 60Hz refresh rate, so animations aren’t quite as fluid as you’d hope.

As for what hasn’t changed from the smaller MacBook Air M2, it’s, well, just about everything else. The MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) still packs a pair of USB-C ports on the left side, a MagSafe charging connector, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right side. It would have been nice to see a dedicated SD card slot or something else slim, but the frame itself isn’t thick enough for full-size HDMI or USB-A inputs. Apple kept its pumped-up MacBook Air fanless, and I don’t miss feeling like my laptop was about to take off like a jet engine, not even a little bit. You also get the same four aluminum finishes to choose from, and I’ll vouch for Starlight as a better option than Midnight any day of the week to avoid those pesky scratches showing the metal underneath.

Some prospective buyers might hear that not much has changed from the 13-inch MacBook Air and have just one thought: the notch is back. Yes, it’s true, there’s still a notch at the top of the display, but you absolutely will not notice it after a few minutes. I seldom look at that part of the display anyway, and I’m happy to have the sharp 1080p webcam. That said, it would be nice to fit Face ID technology in there to justify the feature further, and it still feels like an oversight to be able to lose your mouse cursor behind the notch. Instead, the MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) has a Touch ID fingerprint reader in the top right corner, above the delete key.

Perhaps the second best design change on the 15-inch MacBook Air — behind the display, of course — is the bump from four speakers to six. The new setup is almost too loud in my quiet apartment at full volume, though that means you could use the speakers in a noisy room if that’s ever something you needed. Apple’s upgraded setup delivers solid bass, too, something that surprised me when coming out of a laptop.

The 15-inch MacBook Air might not be a revolution for Apple, but it’s a brilliant laptop that’s more than powerful enough for most people.

Of course, the big question when it comes to a larger, more expensive MacBook Air is whether or not you get more power to go with it. The answer is yes, but also no. Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Air still has the M2 chip under the hood, but it’s the slightly more powerful 10-core GPU configuration across all models instead of the base 8-core GPU from the 13-inch version. When run through our gamut of tests, the 15-inch MacBook Air performed almost identically to the 13-inch model on CineBench r23, offering a difference of just a few points. A word to the wise regarding storage, though — don’t be afraid to upgrade. The 256GB 15-inch MacBook Air carries over one of the less lovable traits of its 13-inch sibling in that its base SSD only has a single NAND chipset, resulting in read and write speeds that lag far behind the dual-NAND 512GB configuration. We go into this in more detail in our MacBook Air M2 review, and it’s the same situation here.

Where the upgraded M2 chipset really made up ground, however, was on 3DMark’s Wild Life Extreme test. The MacBook Air didn’t throttle nearly as heavily as its smaller sibling, slowly trickling off from 6,800 points to around 6,000 rather than a dramatic drop-off after the fifth repetition. I noticed a bit of heat buildup around halfway through 3DMark’s stress testing, but it dissipated quickly after a few minutes of rest.

In actual use, however, I never managed to warm the MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) anywhere close to the same level. It sang through my day-to-day needs, even when I spent hours fine-tuning images in Lightroom and bouncing between a dozen tabs in Safari. I won’t pretend to be a true power user, spending my days editing video in DaVinci Resolve, but then again, neither are most people. If you’re hoping to spend time answering emails, streaming Netflix on the go, and testing out the latest Twitter clone, this is more than enough power to get you by.

Mentioning power, the 15-inch MacBook Air M2’s battery life is excellent. I can easily go through an entire workday without reaching for my charger, allowing me to work a little more remotely and enjoy the summer weather. I haven’t had to rely on Battery Saver (at least, not yet), and my energy usage has only surpassed 50% once — while running the stress tests mentioned above. Apple’s battery statistics don’t offer a great idea of screen-on time, but my graph shows somewhere between five and six hours each day, and I’m only plugging in every few days. When you need a charge, the 15-inch MacBook Air M2 comes with Apple’s dual 35W charger by default. I, however, opted for the single-port 70W charger, which breezes back to a full charge once I’m finished working for the day.

Finally, we have to talk about macOS. It’s been a few years since I regularly used a MacBook, but I’m immediately reminded why people like their iPhones and iPads so much. The software is close enough to what I remember that it only took about an hour of refamiliarizing myself before I was up and running. Apple’s current version, macOS Ventura, has plenty of perks for iPhone users, like optimizations for iMessage, FaceTime, and the ability to use your iPhone as your webcam, but there’s a lot to like for Android users, too. Videos now support Live Text, there are several new bilingual dictionaries, and Apple’s privacy and security functions continue to improve. In many ways, it’s the desktop version of iOS, yet somehow more enjoyable.

Apple MacBook Air (2023)Apple MacBook Air (2023)

Apple MacBook Air (2023)

Thin design • Great battery life

High-resolution, high-power MacBook

The 2023 iteration of the Apple MacBook Air offers a high-resolution display, M2 power, up to 24GB of RAM, and 2TB of Storage. The thin design and light weight make it a compelling laptop.

What are the best Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) alternatives?

surface laptop 4 on chair

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

If you decide that the Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) isn’t for you, there are plenty of other light, fast laptops to check out. Whether you’re leaning toward Windows or macOS, here are some of our favorites:

  • Apple MacBook Air M2 (13-inch) ($1095 at Amazon): The most natural alternative to Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Air is its 13-inch model. You still get an M2 chip under the hood, but the lighter, smaller build is slightly more travel-friendly.
  • Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro (14-inch) ($1949.99 at Apple): If you find yourself wanting extra power, the MacBook Pro is the way to go. Apple recently brought a full slate of ports back to its productivity powerhouse, meaning you no longer need an army of dongles or attachments. The M2 Pro chip is even more powerful than the base M2 model, in case you need extra punch.
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 (on the product’s website): Microsoft’s Surface Laptop lineup looks and feels a lot like a MacBook Air if it ran Windows. You get a lightweight, wedge-shaped body, updated processors, speedy charging, and a limited selection of ports.
  • Dell XPS 13: Dell’s XPS 13 is perhaps the lightest, slimmest Windows laptop around and is almost entirely bezel-free. It’s a great pick if you want solid battery life in the smallest possible package, though you’ll have to keep a USB hub handy at almost all times.
  • Razer Blade 16 (on the product’s website): Alright, so you might not be considering Razer as a viable alternative to the MacBook Air, but it’s worth looking at if you’re interested in gaming and want something equally large. After all, it’s tough to compete with NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX hardware, and there’s just something about an RGB keyboard that draws you in.

Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) specs

MacBook Air M2

Display

15.3-inch Liquid Retina (IPS)
2,880 x 1,864 pixels, 224 ppi
Wide color (P3)
True Tone technology
Support for 1 billion colours
500 nits max brightness

CPU/GPU

Apple M2
8-core CPU
10-core GPU
16-core Neural Engine
100GB/s memory bandwidth
Media Engine: Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRes RAW

RAM

8GB
Configurable up to 24GB

Storage

256GB or 512GB SSD
Configurable up to 2TB

Cameras

1080p FaceTime HD camera

Audio

Six-speaker sound system
Wide stereo sound
Spatial audio
Three-mic array with directional beamforming
3.5mm headphone jack

Battery

66.5Wh lithium-polymer battery
67W charging
MagSafe 3

Network

802.11ax Wi-Fi 6
IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible
Bluetooth 5.3

Connectivity

2x Thunderbolt USB-C ports with support for:
Charging
DisplayPort
Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s)
USB 4 (up to 40Gb/s)
USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s)

Software

macOS Ventura

Dimensions and weight

1.15 x 34.04 x 23.76cm (0.45 x 13.40 x 9.35 inches)
1.51kg

Colors

Silver
Space Grey
Starlight
Midnight

Biometric security

Touch ID

Apple MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) review: FAQ

Yes, the MacBook Air’s keyboard lights up in a single white color.

No, the 15-inch MacBook Air comes with a non-touch 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display.

The MacBook Air M2 (15-inch) does not have a USB-A port, but it does have two USB-C ports.

No, the MacBook Air is fixed with the RAM you choose when configuring your laptop.

Sadly, the MacBook Air M2 is limited to one external monitor via USB-C up to 6K/60Hz.

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