Apple 15-inch MacBook Air hands-on at WWDC 2023

Apple's long-rumored 15-inch MacBook Air is finally a reality. As expected, the new laptop is extremely similar to the redesigned 13-inch version that Apple announced at WWDC one year ago — just a bit bigger. This marks the first time Apple has released a laptop with a screen this size that wasn't part of its "pro" lineup of devices, whether we're talking about the MacBook Pro or its predecessor, the PowerBook. As expected, the 15-inch MacBook Air is using the same M2 chip as the smaller model, a processor that was also unveiled about a year ago.

Video Transcript

CHERLYNN LOW: At its Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple introduced a slew of new hardware, which is actually a rare move for this usually software-centric show. In addition to the Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, Apple also introduced a new 15-inch MacBook Air. This is basically the similar version of the MacBook Air we saw last year at WWDC, except it's expanded in size.

So if you've been looking for a larger screen in a MacBook Air model, which means you don't have to spring for the Pro, this might be a compelling option. I was able to check this out here at Apple Park. Let's take a look.


So one of the first things that really struck me about the 15-inch MacBook Air is how small and thin it is. And I know this is a weird thing to say because, duh. But I walked up to a table full of MacBook Airs, and I was like, where's the 15-inch model again? Because I thought that one that I was looking at was not it. It was so small.

I picked it up. It was very light. It was actually 11.5 millimeters thin and 3.3 pounds light. Up front, you've also got a 15.3-inch liquid retina display, as well as a notch that's housing the 1080p webcam, similar to the design style we've seen in last year's model. The screen also gets to up to 500 nits of brightness, so it should be relatively easy to read in outdoor use.

So it's got also a new six-speaker sound system, providing spatial audio. I was able to listen to some music over here at the fairly noisy demo area. There was some nice bass, but I really didn't get the full oomph that I was hoping for. I think in a quieter environment, I might better appreciate that.

There's also a MagSafe charger and up to 18 hours of battery, according to Apple. The 15-inch MacBook Air is powered by the M2 chip, so it should provide really good performance for a lot of things. I saw a demo here. I wasn't allowed to use the laptop myself. I could only pick it up and maybe touch a key of the keyboard. But Apple's representatives here showed me using Photonator to change colors of certain channels and a picture.

And everything really happened impressively quickly. I think if you're used to an M2 or M1 chip performance, you'll know what to expect here. Another thing that the M2 laptops are going to be known for is maybe Apple gaming via Apple Arcade. I was able to check out some light games from Annapurna. It's called "Stray." And basically, I saw the lighting effects, some of the reflection in puddles in the scene. It was very interesting.

And all, again, seems to behave responsibly and quickly. Of course, we'll have to test it out with games of our own choosing in the real world to get a better sense of the performance and the experience there. On the MacBook Air 15-inch, you will also get two Thunderbolt ports in addition to that MagSafe charging socket, as well as a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack.

It'll come in four colors-- midnight, starlight, space gray, and silver. And of course, this is a MacBook. It will run Mac OS. No word yet on whether it's Sonoma. It probably will be the just-announced macOS Sonoma with all the new features that we saw today. And it will start at $1,300. You can order it starting today or you can wait till it hits store shelves on June 13 to pick one up for yourself.

If you're in the market for a 13-inch model, that one just got a price cut and now it starts at $1,099. And you can also buy that starting today. It's nice to see there are now larger screen size options for people who don't want to shell out for necessarily the MacBook Pro model and spend so much more money for a bigger screen.

But to better inform your purchase decision, we will want to get a unit in for review before we can make any recommendations on whether you should spend your money. So for that and for more, make sure you subscribe to Engadget. And until next time, take a walk.