Why Apple Desperately Needs a 15-inch MacBook Air in Its Lineup

It’s absence is starting to get embarrassing

  • Apple could launch a 15-inch MacBook Air as soon as April 2023.
  • Big-screen lovers will no longer have to choose a $2,500 MacBook Pro.
  • A large-screen Air may stop potential Apple customers from buying PC laptops instead.
An Apple MacBook Air sitting on a white surface with a green plant in a white planter nearby.

Goran Ivos / Unsplash

If the stars align correctly, we will see a new 15-inch MacBook Air next month, and it's about time. 

Apple has long offered its product lines in different sizes. The 21- and 27-inch iMacs, the 13-, 14-, and 15-inch MacBooks Pro, the various iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. But the MacBook Air has only ever come in one size. If you want a bigger MacBook, you have to go pro, and that's not cheap. So it's a pretty big deal that Apple is about to fill that 15-inch hole in its lineup. 

"People don't necessarily need the increased computing power of the MacBook Pro 16-inch while still wanting to have a larger screen," Troy Portillo, director of operations at online learning platform Studypool told Lifewire via email. "Perhaps they watch movies on their laptop. Perhaps they need a larger screen to have multiple documents open at once. Perhaps their eyesight isn't what it used to be, and the larger screen eases eye strain. There are plenty of reasons for wanting a bigger screen while not wanting to pay the extra bucks the 16-inch Pro costs."

Why a 15-Inch MacBook Air?

The current M2 MacBook Air costs $1,199, and you can also opt for last year’s model at $999. If you prefer or need a larger screen, then your only option right now is the 16-inch MacBook Pro (the 14-inch MacBook Pro is technically bigger, but at 14.2 inches vs. the M2 Air’s 13.6-inches, not by much), which starts at $2,499, more than double the price of the entry-level M2 Air. 

A 17-inch Apple MacBook Pro - Core 2 Duo 3.06 GHz.

Carl Berkeley / flickr

Of course, you get a lot more than just a bigger screen. The screen itself is better and much brighter, plus you get the pro-level M2 Pro system-on-a-chip and a selection of extra ports—HDMI, 3x Thunderbolt, SD card—that aren’t on the Air.

But if all you need is an Air with a bigger screen, you’ll be paying for a lot of stuff you’ll never need or use. Money that could be put towards upgrading the storage and RAM on the Air instead. 

The report, from supply-chain analyst DigiTimes, says that a new 15-inch MacBook Air will be available as soon as April and will come with an M2 chip (to match the current M2 13-inch Air), and that’s not just good for people who like bigger screens. It’s something Apple needs too. 

MacBook Air Gap

Right now, Apple has a big gap in its lineup. If customers want a 15-inch or bigger laptop, they can spend two and a half grand or go home. Some folks might just pay the money for a computer that's more powerful than they'll ever need just to get that screen (and it really is a beautiful screen). But most will opt for something else. In this case, if screen size is the most important part of the deal, 'something else' will almost certainly be a Windows machine.

The iBook G4 14-inch laptop.

Wikimedia Commons

"Competitors such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo offer a range of laptops with larger screen sizes that are lightweight and portable. By introducing a 15-inch MacBook Air, Apple would be able to compete more effectively in this segment of the market," Kyle MacDonald, VP at mobile device deployment company Mojio, told Lifewire via email.

It's such an obvious hole in Apple's lineup that one wonders why it hasn't been plugged before. And in fact, Apple did once offer a larger, non-pro notebook. In 2002, it introduced a 14.1-inch iBook alongside the then-current 12.1-inch iBook. This dual lineup continued for a few years, but after that, tumbleweeds. There have been smaller non-pro portable Macs (the 11-inch MacBook Air), but the Air range has remained mostly one-size-fits-all.

This is great news for buyers, of course. Plenty of folks might want a larger screen. If ultimate portability isn't your goal, then you can probably benefit from a larger screen, especially if your MacBook is your main computer. Even the 14-inch MacBook Pro is a significantly roomier experience than the 13-inch M1 MacBook Air, so I imagine that a nice, spacious 15-incher would be amazing for working with multiple windows, for watching movies, and for more comfortable work in general.

And as of next month, you won't be financially punished for wanting that bit of extra space.

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