Why the 15-inch M3 MacBook Air is the best MacBook Air

Estimated read time 5 min read

Our review of Apple’s new MacBook Airs is out, and our esteemed reviewer Devindra Hardawar gave them both equal scores of 90. That’s a very good score! But I think Devindra’s underselling the 15-inch MacBook Air, which is the best laptop I’ve used in years. It deserves at least an extra point or two, in my humble opinion. For me, it’s a Goldilocks laptop, just right, and I think a lot of people would feel the same way if they managed to realize that a 13-inch laptop isn’t the end-all, be-all form factor that Apple has cast it as over the last decade.

For years now, the 13-inch Air has been Apple’s best laptop for most people, with an undoubtedly excellent combo of power and portability. After a total redesign in 2022, though, there’s not much to differentiate this year’s Air. That’s not bad in and of itself, as it’s a sign of a product that has matured over the years to near-perfection; this year’s model has a new chip to keep performance as fresh as possible.

At some point, due in large part to the MacBook Air’s decade-plus dominance, the 13-inch form factor became the de-facto laptop size for most people. Particularly those who wanted a Mac, because in the last ten years the 16-inch Macbook Pro (and the 15-inch model that preceded it) got way too expensive for most. As such, a large screen became a “pro” feature, not something most people could afford.

Fortunately, Apple addressed that last summer with the 15-inch MacBook Air, a computer that retains everything we like about the 13-inch model in a slightly larger and heavier package. In exchange for a little more cash and a slightly bulkier device, I got a bigger screen that I really appreciated when using the Air as my primary computer without a monitor. To me, 15 inches is the ideal laptop size. If you ever felt the same way but got priced out by Apple, you should definitely check out the 15-inch MacBook Air.

The 13-inch model will almost certainly remain the default option for most people — in part because it’s cheaper. And if you travel a lot, you’ll probably be happier with a smaller and lighter machine. But I believe that a lot of people would be much happier with the larger screen, because the 15-inch Air is still extremely thin and light. Devindra disagrees, noting the bigger laptop is a half-pound heavier, “more unwieldy” and a little “annoying to carry.” That’s fair — I didn’t have the same experience because I never used the 15-inch alongside the 13-inch. Instead, I compared it to Apple’s two MacBook Pro models, and the Air is lighter than both. In fact, it’s more than a pound lighter than the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

While I already believe that most people would be just as happy with the 15-inch Air, if not happier, there are a few use cases worth pointing out to hammer home the point. Devindra said the Air did pretty well playing some of the newer games available for it like Lies of P and Death Stranding. If you’re into games, whether they’re titles like those or more casual options from Apple Arcade, there’s little doubt they’re more fun on a larger display.

The 15-inch MacBook Air is also a great option for older users, or people with visual impairments (or, honestly, anyone who prefers bigger elements on their screen). When I use the 15-inch Air, I enjoy having more pixels to show more of whatever apps I’m using. But, you can just as easily scale up screen elements so you have the same canvas as the 13-inch Air, just on a greater scale. Naturally, the screens on the Air series aren’t as pixel-dense and sharp as the MacBook Pros, but they’re still lovely and won’t look overly pixelated if you decide to scale up the UI.

Forget about specific use cases, though. To put it simply, I’m a fan of the 15-inch Air. It just feels right — much more portable than a computer with a 15-inch display has any right to be. I don’t feel like I’m giving up screen size for something that’s easier to carry around; instead, it’s a computer that I can take anywhere and not feel constrained while using it. Maybe I’m overestimating the appeal — you can just plug the 13-inch Air into a monitor at home to get a bigger screen and then have a smaller computer when you’re on the go. But for someone who likes the idea of a single computer that can work in any context, the 15-inch Air fits my bill.