After launching a redesigned MacBook Air with a 13.6-inch display and M2 processor in the summer of 2022, Apple is reportedly working on a new, larger, model. According to numerous reports, Apple is developing a 15-inch MacBook Air for the first time, which could launch in 2023. It’s a project with a very long history: As revealed in documentation used in the Apple and Epic court battle in 2021, Steve Jobs discussed a 15-inch MacBook Air as far back as 2007, prior to the release of the 13-inch MacBook Air in 2008.
Update 05/02/23: It’s a month until WWDC, but with developer logs suggesting that Apple is testing a new model, and production of components ramping up, could Apple be getting ready to launch a new MacBook Air soon?
15-inch MacBook Air: Release date and latest news
Rumors of an unreleased 15-inch Mac laptop have been circulating for some time. Gurman first wrote back in January 2021 that Apple had explored the idea of a 15-inch MacBook Air. Gurman’s sources suggested that Apple wishes to introduce this new model in order to grow its slice of the laptop market with more models and more choice for consumers.
It looks like this new 15-inch MacBook Air could be announced soon. In a Bloomberg report on April 14, 2023, Gurman claimed that “Apple is ramping up testing of fresh Macs with processors on par with the current M2 chip.” Test logs seen by Bloomberg indicate that “Apple is readying a laptop with processor specifications similar to current models, but with a larger, higher-resolution display.” The display resolution suggests that this the rumored 15-inch MacBook Air.
According to that report, this laptop is also being tested running the unreleased macOS 14, which could suggest that it will be unveiled at WWDC and demoed running the new operating system (which will still be in the development stage).
The April Bloomberg report also suggests that Apple is hoping that introducing new Macs will help Apple turn around the sales decline the company has seen since the start of the year. According to International Data Corp, Mac shipments declined 40 percent in the first quarter of this year. In a January 2023 Power On newsletter, Gurman also wrote that the 15-inch MacBook Air will be a “major saving grace for the Mac lineup,” in 2023. Indeed, it may be one of a number of new machines: in a newsletter on April 16 Gurman suggested that the 15-inch MacBook Air may not be the only new MacBook to arrive at WWDC. Apple may also refresh the 13-inch MacBook Pro and 13-inch MacBook Air.
Could we see the 15-inch MacBook Air before WWDC though? On April 10, analyst Ross Young of Display Supply Chain Consultants tweeted (subscription required) that Apple had ramped up production of a 15-inch MacBook Air in the previous two months. Young indicated that the laptop could ship in late April or early May–so an update is feasible before WWDC. This followed a tweet on February 13 where he said the 15.5-inch panel for the new MacBook Air had entered production.
Similarly, in a Power On newsletter on March 5 Gurman indicated that mass production of the displays is underway and the 15-inch MacBook Air could be released in April–an April release didn’t happen, but we still have May…
Gurman initially suggested that the new MacBook Air could see a spring 2023 launch. In March he wrote that the 15-inch MacBook Air with M2 or M2 Pro “could be announced in March (likely with a glossy site update and not a live event), with a release in early April.” It is now looking unlikely that Apple will hold an Apple Spring Event. Apple has announced dates for WWDC, starting on June 5, so this could be the next opportunity for Apple to announce the new product–exactly a year after the M2 MacBook Air was announced.
15-inch MacBook Air: Price
To get an idea of how Apple will price the new 15-inch MacBook Air, we can look at the prices of Apple’s current line up of Mac laptops.
- 13-inch M2 MacBook Air: $1,199/£1,249 or $1,499/£1,549.
- 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro: $1,299/£1,349 or $1,499/£1,549.
- 15-inch M2 MacBook Pro: From $1,749/£1,849 predicted.
- 14-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro: Starts at $1,999/£2,149
- 16-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro: Starts at $2,499/£2,699
Looking at that line up the first challenge is working out where the new 15-inch MacBook would sit. Assuming it’s a 15-inch MacBook Air with M2 chip, we’d expect it to sit between the 13-inch MacBook Pro and 14-inch MacBook Pro, with a higher price than the 13-inch MacBook Pro. There is a big gap between the price of the 13-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro, so a starting price between $1,499/£1,549 and $1,999/£2,149 seems like a reasonable assumption. So, $1,749/£1,849 seems likely.
If it’s more of a higher-end model, with an M2 Pro chip, the price could be even higher–$1,799 was the starting price for the original MacBook Air back in 2008 so there is president for such a high price. However, an 15-inch M2 Pro MacBook Air that costs less than a 14-inch MacBook Pro with the same chip would be confusing for consumers, so it is also possible that Apple will also introduce a higher priced 15-inch MacBook Air that sits between the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
15-inch MacBook Air: Specs
There is a lot of speculation about the processor that will feature in this new 15-inch MacBook.
Respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted back in June 2022 that Apple may offer two CPU options for the 15-inch Air: an M2, like in the 2022 MacBook Air, and a M2 Pro option. The M2 Pro is currently only offered in the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models and Mac mini.
Interestingly, Kuo doesn’t refer to this as a MacBook Air, but rather calls it a MacBook. In fact he states that it “might not be called MacBook Air”.
Other sources seem sure that it is an Air though: In March 2022, DSCC CEO Ross Young had indicated that this new 15-inch model will be a variant of the MacBook Air and won’t replace the current model.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also seems to be confident that it is a 15-inch Air that Apple is planning to launch. Gurman expects that the 15-inch MacBook Air will ship with an M2 chip, but he does allow that it may offer an M2 Pro chip. In a March newsletter he even noted the possibility that the MacBook Air could ship with an M3 chip. As Gurman has stated: “Having the new MacBook Air sport the M3 would also make sense from a timing perspective,” WWDC 2022 having been the launch of the M2 MacBook Air.
In an April 14 report, Gurman indicated that Apple has ramped up testing on “fresh Macs with processors on par with the current M2 chip,” and claimed that test logs seen by Bloomberg indicate that the chip in the new laptop has eight main processing cores and 10 graphics cores and 8GB RAM, like the M2.
Gurman suggests that “A 15-inch MacBook Air with an M2 chip may still excite consumers”. However, it will still be a year old chip if Apple does announce an M2 MacBook Air at WWDC 2023. So is it more likely we will see the M2 Pro inside this new MacBook Air?
An M2 Pro equipped Air would require much better cooling–the current MacBook Air doesn’t even include a fan–so, if Apple was to include an M2 Pro inside substantial changes to the Air’s design would be required (which we will discuss below). Alternatively, it’s possible that, as Kuo stated in the tweet above, the rumored 15-inch Mac laptop is not a MacBook Air.
Including M2 Pro chips to the 15-inch MacBook Air and potentially the 13-inch MacBook Pro model–could also negatively affect sales of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
If Apple was to use the M3 chip inside this new MacBook Air that would avoid the need to redesign the machine, but introducing an M3 at the same time as it announces M2 variants of other products at WWDC (the M2 Ultra Mac Pro for example) could make those products look dated by comparison.
As for other features, we expect this new model to be similar to feature 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM in the entry-level model with 512GB and 1TB, and 16GB and 24GB options. It will also probable have a MagSafe charging port and two Thunderbolt 4 ports as well as a 1080p FaceTime camera. Finally, the new Air will likely ship with Apple’s new dual-port 35W adapter.
15-inch MacBook Air: Design and display
When Apple first announced the MacBook Air in 2008, it was only available in a 13-inch model, though an 11-inch model was added in 2010 and discontinued in 2015. So offering two sizes of the MacBook Air wouldn’t be unprecedented.
Nor will it be the first time Apple has sold a 15-inch laptop. Apple introduced the popular 15-inch PowerBook in 2001 and the 15-inch MacBook Pro in 2006. Apple continued to sell a version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro until it was replaced with the 16-inch MacBook Pro in 2019.
The last model of the 15-inch MacBook Pro had a 15.4-inch screen and dimensions of 13.75 inches (34.93 cm) x 9.48 inches (24.07 cm) x 0.61 inch (1.55 cm). A newer model would have smaller bezels like the M2 MacBook Air, so the screen could be a big bigger. For example, the M2 MacBook Air has a slightly larger 13.6-inch display compared to the 13.3-inch display in the MacBook Pro and M1 MacBook Air, but the dimensions are practically identical.
However, Apple could be going even smaller instead. Analyst Ross Young, who correctly predicted the M2 Air’s 13.6-inch display, suggested in March 2022 that the screen on this new model will measure 15.2 inches. That would be about a quarter-inch smaller than the 15-inch MacBook Pro and much smaller in stature, likely measuring around 12.5 inches x 8.75 inches. Along with smaller bezels, the new 15-inch display will likely feature a notch and have a thin profile of less than half-an-inch. Later reports have said the panel will measure 15.5 inches.
The design of this 15-inch MacBook may also determine whether it runs a M2 or M2 Pro chip. If Apple was to include an M2 Pro inside then the design would need to be adjusted–an M2 Pro equipped Air would require at least one fan for cooling, as with the higher-end Pros. If there was no fan then substantial changes to the Air’s thermal design would be necessary, likely resulting in a thicker case.
While there have been rumors that the MacBook Air would get a mini-LED display in 2022, Apple opted to use a similar LCD panel for the redesigned laptop. So it seems that ProMotion mini-LED tech will be reserved for the higher-end MacBook Pro models so the new 15-inch MacBook Air likely won’t offer either feature. In addition, Apple may be planning an OLED upgrade in 2024, according to analyst Ross Young, so don’t expect this technology until 2024.
We assume the 15-inch MacBook Air will come in colors other than silver and space gray like the 13-inch model. We haven’t heard rumors about specific options, though there were previous rumors about a green version of the M2 MacBook Air that never materialized.