Apple’s latest MacBook Air is its first 15in premium laptop in four years. The “impressively big, impossibly thin” notebook is available in four familiar colors.
MacBook Air 15in vs MacBook Air 13in: design
Since 2010, MacBook Air models had been easy to spot thanks to their pronounced tapered, wedge-shaped design. That all changed with the MacBook Air 13in (2022), and now with the all-new model, which has a flat-edged design that makes them look almost like the current 14in and 16in MacBook Pro models. If that bothers you, consider the MacBook Air 13in (2020), which Apple has kept alive in its online store.
The larger display of the 15in doesn’t add a lot of extra weight. The MacBook Air 15in measures 13.40 x 9.35 inches or 340 × 238mm, weighs 3.3 pounds/1.51kg and is 0.4in/11.5mm thick. By contrast, the 13in model is 11.97 x 8.46in or 304 x 215mm, 0.44in/11.5mm thick and weighs 2.7 pounds or 1.24kg.
Both models are available in four colour options: silver, starlight, space grey, and midnight. The colours are stunning, but it’s worth noting that the midnight option is prone to displaying fingerprints and requires frequent cleaning.
MacBook Air 15in vs MacBook Air 13in: familiar specs
Beyond this, both Macs are limited to two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, each offering up to 18 hours of regular use between charges. There are several other similarities between the two devices, such as the 1080p FaceTime HD camera, available storage options (ranging from 256GB to 2TB), and a keyboard with 12 full-height function keys and four arrow keys arranged similarly. Yes, they are are the same size. Both products also feature Touch ID and a 3.5mm headphone jack with advanced support for high-impedance headphones.
The MacBook Air 13in and MacBook Air 15in share a key similarity: they both have the Apple M2 system-on-a-chip (SoC). First launched on the MacBook Air 13in and now available on the Mac mini (2023), the M2 has some impressive internals. First, it boasts an 8-core CPU, up to 24GB of unified memory, and a 16-core Neural Engine. Additionally, the M2 chip provides 100GB/s memory bandwidth, making it a powerful component in these laptops.
What about GPU? The MacBook Air 15in only comes with a 10-core GPU, and the 13in model comes with an 8-core or 10-core GPU, depending on the amount of storage you select.
MacBook Air 15in vs MacBook Air 13in: truly wonderful display
When looking at the differences between the two laptops, let’s start at the most obvious. The size of the displays. The MacBook Air 15in offers a 15.3in Liquid Retina display with 2880 by 1864 pixels (224 PPI). The smaller model features a 13.6in Liquid Retina display with 2560 by 1664 pixels (224 PPI). On either model, you get 500 nits brightness, wide colour (P3), and True Tone technology.
What do all these numbers mean? Both MacBook Air models offer the same PPI and other features. That’s a big deal and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
MacBook Air 15in vs MacBook Air 13in: improved audio
On the audio front, Apple made one key change on the MacBook Air 15in. It features a six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers, compared to the four-speaker sound system found on the smaller model. The change should put the newest MacBook Air more in line with the current MacBook Pro models.
Unfortunately, as noted in our review of the MacBook Air 15in, “despite the similar hardware we prefer the sound from the recent MacBook Pro – it sounds more powerful and well-rounded. From the Air, it still feels like the sound is coming from a laptop.”
MacBook Air 15in vs MacBook Air 13in: same battery guarantees
On the power and battery front, there are also differences. The larger laptop comes with an integrated 66.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery and 35W Dual Port Compact Power Adapter. The MacBook Air 13in comes with an integrated 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery and either a 30W USB-C Power Adapter (8-core GPU) or 35W Dual USB-C Port Compact Power Adapter (10-core GPU). Both computers support fast-charging with a (sold separately) 70W USB-C Power Adapter.
Because both MacBook Air models promise the same battery life between charges, the difference here aren’t really a big deal. They’re simply there to support the MacBook Air 15in’s larger display.
MacBook Air 15in vs MacBook Air 13in: price
Finally, it’s no surprise that a larger display increases the price of the MacBook Air 15in vs its 13in sibling. The larger model starts at $1,299/£1,399, and the smaller, $1,099/£1,149. Interestingly, Apple dropped the price of the MacBook Air 13in by $100 in the States when the larger model was announced.
MacBook Air 15in vs MacBook Air 13in: verdict
The two current MacBook Air models are nearly the same once you get past the display size. If you desire a more compact option, the MacBook Air 13in is the ideal choice, while the larger model is better suited for those needing a bigger solution.
If size isn’t a deciding factor, then the 15in model would be the better choice as it has several advanced features that the smaller model lacks. Moreover, being newer, it’s highly likely that the 13in model will receive an update to M3 in 2024 and the 15in will as well.
Either way, these MacBook Air models would be an excellent choice. Your biggest choice to make may just be deciding on the colour.