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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch review

Apple's latest laptop with the much-hyped M2 chip can double as a desktop.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch on a blue background
Last updated: 06 September 2023

CHOICE verdict

This is a lot of computer packed into a surprisingly thin and light chassis. The 15.3-inch MacBook Air is one of the world's thinnest laptops coming in at 11.5mm, and it's also comparatively light, weighing just 1.51kg. It's powered by Apple's much-hyped M2 chip, which boasts an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine. Apple claims the M2 delivers "up to twice the performance of the best-selling 15-inch PC laptop with a Core i7 processor" and 50% more battery life. CHOICE is yet to subject those claims to laboratory testing, but let's just say you're unlikely to run out of juice at an inopportune time with this laptop. Or be left twiddling your fingers waiting for websites and apps to load.

Price: $2199

Apple has been churning out ultra-portable MacBook Airs for a decade and a half now, meaning co-founder Steve Jobs was still around when the first ones launched. At this juncture, it might be assumed there's little reason to get excited about yet another addition to the family.

But even jaded tech industry tastemakers have been largely complimentary about Apple's first 15-incher. Granted, the tech company's legions of fans already have access to the 13-inch MacBook Air (from $1799), as well as the 14-inch (from $3199) or 16-inch (from $3999) MacBook Pros. 

But this 15-inch Air model, available in four different shades of grey-black (Silver, Starlight, Space Grey and Midnight), hits the sweet spot. Particularly in an era when many people now work in two or more locations. In characteristic fashion, Apple appears to have intuited what consumers wanted and has delivered a computer that's portable (it's big, but impressively thin and comparatively light) yet still powerful.

A real looker

After its dimensions, the first things you notice about this MacBook Air are its speed and the quality of its screen.

Images look vivid and sharp on the high-resolution, 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display (2880 x 1864 native resolution, 224 pixels per inch, 500 nits peak brightness, and support for over a billion colours).

187155 FL Apple Macbook  00

The latest MacBook Air is bright and thin but pricey.

As you'd expect, everything else is more than serviceable. A Full HD camera and a surprisingly crisp six-speaker sound system make video conferencing much more agreeable. The keyboard and trackpad are as user-friendly as you'd expect from an Apple product. 

There's 8GB of memory, configurable to 16GB or 24GB, and 256GB of storage, configurable to 512GB, 1TB or 2TB. It doesn't have a fan, so you won't even be diverted by occasional whirring sounds. (But you might be distracted by how hot the keyboard gets.)

Toxin-free tech

Apple claims to have made the MacBook Air more environmentally friendly, using lots of recycled metals in the manufacturing process while eschewing arsenic, mercury, PVC, beryllium or brominated flame retardant (BFR). 

The company also claims over 99% of the Air's packaging is made from recycled or responsibly sourced wood fibre. (The days of peeling endless bits of plastic off your new Apple device after unboxing it are long gone.)

A zeitgeist-friendly device

Whether by accident or design, this light and bright device is well calibrated to the needs of environmentally conscious, white-collar types in a post-lockdown, hybrid working, video conferencing world. It's not cheap, but it's certainly more affordable than shelling out for an Apple desktop and a laptop. Or a MacBook Pro.  

It's possible to quibble about some design decisions – surely a laptop this large could accommodate more ports? (There's a MagSafe 3 charging port and 3.5mm  headphone jack, but only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports.) Nonetheless, it's clear why this laptop will likely be a hit with the knowledge workers it's chiefly aimed at.

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.