It’s hard to present the new Apple MacBook Air other than as a simple 15-inch version of the MacBook Air M2 launched last summer. On paper, the brand retains more or less the entire technical sheet of its ultraportable. It just increases the screen from 13 to 15 inches and increases the volume of the battery to compensate for the increase in consumption.
We tested this new MacBook Air M2 for several days. We will focus on the differences with the 13-inch model that we have already tested in length on CssTricks.
|Model||Apple MacBook Air 15 M2 2023|
23.76cm x 34.04cm x 1.15mm
2880 x 1864 pixels
|Graphics chip (GPU)||
8 GB, 16 GB, 24 GB
256 GB, 512 GB, 1024 GB, 2048 GB
|Operating system (OS)||
The MacBook Air M2 used for this test was purchased by the editorial staff.
Design: a neat dress
We will avoid repeating ourselves, but once again, Apple has retained all the design codes inaugurated with the 13-inch model. We therefore have an ultraportable aluminum PC whose care taken in construction immediately reassures about its solidity.
We find the rounded edges and the very homogeneous format where the front is not thicker than the back of the PC. Difficult to do tons on the design as Apple masters with this computer an idea of sobriety and simplicity.
It must be said that the machine is completely devoid of ventilation. This allows you to have the underside of the MacBook without any roughness. The only ventilation is done very discreetly at the hinge.
The transition to a 15-inch format inevitably makes the PC gain weight, but it remains very reasonable. We are far from a PC “ Pro » or a gaming PC and the finesse of the MacBook Air therefore allows it to remain ultra-portable. In a backpack, there is not really a difference with the transport of the 13-inch model.
If we put aside the question of the notch on which we will come back later, we don’t really have much to say about the perfectly mastered design of this 15-inch MacBook Air M2.
Keyboard and touchpad
Apple keeps exactly the same keyboard. It’s also the one the brand uses on its even bigger 16-inch MacBook Pro, so that’s no surprise. The rest of the space is left to the trackpad and the speakers on either side.
We can regret that Apple does not take the opportunity to enlarge the size of certain keys, in particular the arrows. However, it is an excellent quality keyboard that is offered here and the typing comfort is present. The layout of the keys is not that of Windows QWERTY keyboards, but it is possible to make adjustments with the Karabiner Elements software.
The trackpad is naturally larger on this 15-inch MacBook Air. Its glass surface is still as pleasant. No complaints.
Apple has not changed its connectors. So we have two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the left and a 3.5 mm jack port on the right. We regret that the brand still limits the connection to a single external screen on its MacBook M1 and M2. The use of several external screens is done from the Pro chips.
Source: Chloé Pertuis – CssTricks
Source: Chloé Pertuis – CssTricks
The PC also offers a MagSafe port to magnetically charge the machine without cluttering up one of the two USB-C ports. Too bad, however, not to offer any USB port on the right of the machine.
An LCD screen in 2023
She is still there, ready to taunt the user at any time. In 2023, Apple still imposes the unsightly notch above the screen on us. There is absolutely no justification for this choice of design since even the iPhone with Face ID how to abandon it. Here, it is content to hide a simple RGB webcam without biometrics capability. Other PC makers do better, especially at this price.
The 15.3-inch Liquid Retina screen displays a definition of 2880 x 1864 pixels, against 2560 x 1664 pixels for the 13.6-inch version. We therefore keep the same density of pixels on the screen.
The gain in display comfort is immediate and makes it easier for the 15-inch MacBook Air to replace a work machine. This is its main strength, the MacBook Air 15″ gains in comfort of use without sacrificing too much its weight or its compactness. Whether for watching movies, videos or working with text, the format chosen by Apple is pleasant.
However, the competition has made a good start on its transition to Oled and on the quality of the display, is taking a clear lead over Apple. Of course, the Apple brand has chosen an excellent LCD screen, but it’s still an LCD screen.
Under our colorimetric probe with the Calman software, we measured the excellent performance expected from the screen. The panel chosen by Apple fully covers DCI-P3 and sRGB with flawless color accuracy. The average deltaE is measured at 1.14 with a maximum of 2.67, which is good knowing that below 3 the eye no longer makes the difference. The contrasts are at the level of a good LCD with 1256:1. The maximum brightness is 488 cd/m².
webcam and audio
Apple’s 1080p camera is good enough for video calls, but won’t work miracles either. On the other hand, the installed microphone system makes it possible to carry out group meetings where several speakers are in front of the MacBook, without any problem. The ambient noise reduction by the microphones is not as good as an Nvidia Broadcast system, but for an Apple native system with an ARM chip, it is quite successful. Your interlocutors will still hear some of the ambient noise.
The loudspeaker system is the other strong point of this 15-inch model. Apple has integrated no less than six speakers in its machine, four under the screen and two distributed to the left and right of the keyboard. We are still facing a laptop PC of course, but the sound quality is there. We find ourselves watching a movie or listening to music without complaining. Apple really knew how to use the extra volume given by the enlargement to make the speakers vibrate better.
Pending the release of Sonoma and the emphasis on video games, macOS Ventura is offered on this MacBook Air. Three years after the start of the transition to Apple Silicon, there are few software products that are not optimized for the firm’s new chips. The big advantage of macOS is the number of pre-installed applications for a family audience. Between Apple TV, Apple Plan, Apple Music or the office suite, there is enough to manage your entire digital life without leaving the ecosystem.
The Apple ecosystem is the other obvious strong point of this software environment. You automatically find the SMS of your iPhone, you can move the cursor of thetrackpadand take control of an iPad without any configuration. A file or photo transfer is very easy by AirDrop. Even the first setup of the machine is very simple if you are coming from a Mac.
Everything is not yet perfect. We would like, for example, that the MacBook can act as an AirPlay destination to continue watching a video that we started on our iPad or iPhone. Similarly, it is not possible to simultaneously connect several Bluetooth headsets or AirPods to enjoy a video together.
The Apple M2 chip is a marvel in terms of performance. Accompanied by 8 GB of unified memory and a storage of 256 or 512 GB, it can overcome most tasks.
With an Apple M2 chip, you can do web or office work, low-power video games or photo editing. The first limitation will usually be storage size or amount of RAM rather than chip performance. It will show its limits for heavier needs such as video editing, 3D creation or greedy 3D video games.
On Cinebench R23, the M2 scores 1602 points in single-core and 7853 in multi-core. The biggest advantage of the M2 is to operate without any ventilation, and therefore without any noise. The downside is that with the accumulation of heat, it may limit its performance on heavy tasks that take a little time, such as rendering a video montage. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, maintains its level of performance on battery or under load. This is a real strength of Apple machines against the Windows ecosystem.
The 15-inch MacBook Air M2 is Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6 compatible. Apple skips Wi-Fi 6E on this new reference.
Autonomy and load
The battery is 66.5 Wh on this 15-inch MacBook Air M2. It makes it easy to keep a day’s work away from an outlet without asking too many questions. The battery is larger than in the 13-inch model, but the gain only compensates for the increase in screen consumption. LCD obliges, the more imposing backlighting on a 15 inch will consume more.
The good news comes from the charger supplied with the machine. Apple offers the 35W dual-port USB-C charger by default. You can therefore charge your smartphone and your PC with a single electrical outlet. It’s an excellent idea that we have already seen at Microsoft with its Surface and it was time to see manufacturers take inspiration from it. This is particularly useful on a train or at the airport, when you only have one socket available.
Price and availability
The 15-inch MacBook Air M2 is marketed by Apple from 1599 euros, or 300 euros more than the 13-inch model.
Where to buy
Apple MacBook Air 15 M2 2023 at the best price?