I tested the 15-inch MacBook Air on a hectic trip across two continents and it didn’t disappoint. Read on to know why.
I have a strange love affair with the MacBook Air. It was the first MacBook I owned, marking a milestone in my life in many ways. It was the device I did most of my work on for many years before I handed it down to my son as his school computer during the lockdown years. A couple of months back it packed up after almost nine years of stellar service. It was the two years of stress inflicted by a pre-teen that finally took its toll on the device and not the many falls it took as it served me before my son. And this is exactly the kind of long life and varied use cases aspiring MacBook Air buyers will be looking towards, especially with the 15-size which is making its debut in the range.
The 15-inch MacBook Air is a unique product, primarily because this is a new size for the popular range. While there is a lot more real estate, Apple has also packed in a larger battery and more graphics power to this M2-powered device. But while it was the compact nature of the 13-inch MacBook Air amidst all the thick and heavy laptops of the time that made me buy it many years ago, it might be the larger screen size that appeals to those looking to buy this year’s version. The larger screen size means this one is better for content consumption as well as a lot of work like coding and video editing.
And interestingly, as I discovered in a hectic week of traveling, across two continents, the extra size does not make the MacBook Air unwieldy in any way. In fact, it’s almost unnaturally thin for a 15-inch laptop… thin enough to slip into the magazine pocket of a domestic Indigo flight. No mean achievement.
But then, despite the size, I could still use the tray on the same flight to write a part of this review without much trouble, though I was praying the passenger in front does not recline his seat. I pulled out the MacBook Air for some work, invited by the free wi-fi on the German ICE bullet train while on a short trip from Bonn to Frankfurt too. Thankfully, here there was more space between the seats to check some Google sheets as the green European landscape, sweltering under its newfound summer, whizzed past the extra-large windows.
On an international flight back from Germany I could use the same laptop to clear a lot of mail as it charged with a USB-C cable from a power port under the seat — there is a MagSafe charger too, but that becomes an unnecessary burden when you are traveling with other chargers that work as well to juice up this MacBook Air.
The point I am trying to make is that despite the larger chassis, this MacBook Air is thin enough to come with all the convenience one is used to with other versions that have come before. This is an Air in the true sense, just more Air.
It is, however, only natural for anyone with a larger laptop to expect more power from it. And that is something that this MacBook Air manages more than well, thanks to the M2 Apple silicon. Yes, this is a fanless model, but there is very little you can do on the device that will make you realize the lack of blades to cool down the laptop when needed. In fact, I tried to edit some of the cinematic videos I had shot with the iPhone during an event in Bonn and the iMovie software let me change the AF lock and even stabilize grainy video shot in low light within a second. I could select multiple 4K clips and use the color palette across all of these, again instantaneously.
I might need a MacBook Pro to do this for larger clips, but then most regular users don’t have larger clips that need to be edited. But the MacBook Air seems more equipped to take the needs of the new booming creator economy which in many ways entails all of us. And frankly what other device gives you the freedom to shut the computer on a video edit as the flight you are working on hits some serious turbulence as it runs into monsoon clouds?
I also tried out the Photomator app which uses AI to really tweak your photos, again within seconds. It can change the color of specific subjects in the frame, suggest ML crops of your shots, and use AI to clean up stuff in the background. The app works like a dream even with really large RAW files, the only dampener is that you can’t save the output without a paid subscription.
And it is not just about editing. The MacBook Air thanks to its 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display and six-speaker sound system with Dolby Atmos makes it a great consumption device wherever you are. In fact, the laptop is loud enough for you to not dare go full volume while staying in thin-walled hotels outside India. But this is not just about being loud — watching the Foundation series, I got the sense that a lot of the Dolby Atmos sense of depth was now clearly available here too.
Being a 15-inches, this MacBook Air also offers a well-laid-out keyboard with soft keys that are perfect to type on. They are also almost silent, especially if you are one of those who type with a flow and do not like how to learn to type on the old Remingtons. The trackpad is large and perfect when you are navigating the extra screen space for creative stuff. The right-hand corner key has the TouchID fingerprint scanner which lets you unlock the MacBook Air in a jiffy, one feature I am so used to from my MacBook Pro. The review unit came in space grey which adds to the sexiness of the sleek design. There are two USB-C ports on the left along with the MagSafe charger dock while on the right you have just the 3.5mm audio port. And yes this one comes with a Full HD camera and three microphones so that you are seen and heard well during video calls, a necessary feature now for most of us.