Apple’s macbook lineup has existed in extremes for some time. If you’re someone who needs a powerful machine, you can choose between the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros—two large screen-size options for whatever graphically demanding project you want to throw at them. “Normies,” like me, who use our laptops for answering emails, web browsing, and the like have been forced to settle for a relatively cramped 13-inch display on the MacBook Air. Yes, we can shell out for the larger Pro models, but they start at $2,000.
That’s all changing now with the 15-inch MacBook Air—an all-new size option that single-handedly restores order to the MacBook range. Apple brought all the standout features it introduced in last year’s 13-inch model, like the redesigned chassis, Magsafe charging, and 1080p webcam, but threw in a wonderfully large 15.3-inch screen while still keeping the whole package thin and light.
The base 15-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,299, and Apple has reduced the price of the 13-inch version to $1,099 (the original M1-powered MacBook Air from 2020 is still available for $999). You can max out this model for a whopping $2,499, but that’s if you want the extra RAM and massive amounts of built-in storage, so it’s not necessary for most. At the base price, this 15-inch screen is worth every penny.
The Ideal In-Between
The new MacBook Air has the same boxy frame as its smaller counterpart, which matches the sleek look of the high-end MacBook Pro models for a cohesive design throughout the lineup. Open it up and it looks almost identical to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, with a large trackpad and space on both sides of the keyboard.
Rather than adding speakers in this space, Apple integrated them between the keyboard and display, as it did with last year’s MacBook Air. But since this laptop is larger, it comes equipped with a heftier six-speaker system, instead of a quad-speaker setup, with two tweeters and two sets of force-canceling woofers. Apple claims they deliver “twice the bass depth for fuller sound.” You get the same three-microphone array as before.
The difference in sound quality is noticeable. Last year, I said that the 13-inch Air sounded muffled at times. I cranked it up to full volume whenever I watched a movie. This new MacBook delivers better sound clarity and gets loud enough that I can keep it under the max level (though it still doesn’t get that loud). I would’ve preferred to have the speakers on the sides for a quasi-surround-sound effect. It would at least fill the awkward dead space on the sides of the keyboard.