Why Everyone Would Love a 15-Inch MacBook Air

Portability and a big screen? Win-win!

  • Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts a big-screen MacBook Air late next year. 
  • A 15-inch Air should cost at least $1,000 less than the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
  • A bigger screen is perfect for remote workers.
Someone in a crowded room using a laptop balanced on their lap.

Alex Koyliarskyi / Unsplash

Apple is working on a new, larger 15-inch version of the MacBook Air. It'll be the first time in Apple's history that it makes a large-screen, non-pro laptop. 

A report from the seemingly clairvoyant analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that the new MacBook will be ready for sale late in 2023, will use the same power adapter as the current MacBook Air, and may not even be called a "MacBook Air." However this pans out, one thing is certain—a big-screen laptop without the guts (and cost) of Apple's pro models would be very welcome indeed. 

"MacBook Airs have long been the more affordable options in comparison to MacBook Pros," technology writer Kristen Bolig told Lifewire via email. "A 15-in MacBook Air would probably appeal to a lot of people who want high-quality, large-screened laptops but also want to save some money."

MacBook Where?

Apple’s portable lineup has been confusing for a good part of the last decade, right up until the current M1 Apple Silicon models. The MacBook Pros offered very little over the entry-level Air—a few more USB-C ports, more weight, more heat from power-hungry Intel chips inside, and terrible battery life. 

And the MacBook Air itself was initially an upgrade option, an impossibly light and slim version of the MacBook. Apple tried to kill the Air, but people kept buying it—presumably because it became the cheapest MacBook in the lineup while still being great. 

And don’t even start on the low-end M1 MacBook Pro, which is nothing more than a MacBook Air in a thicker shell with a fan inside. 

Now, things are more coherent as Apple slowly rolls out its Apple Silicon range. The MacBook Pros are now clearly more powerful, have amazing screens, more ports, all while staying cool and keeping the long battery life enjoyed by the Air. 

Redesigned MacBook Airs are expected this year, probably something that combines the looks of the colorful and slim 24-inch iMac with the portability of an iPad. And if you imagine a grid of Apple’s laptop lineup, based on pro-ness (that’s a word now) and screen size, there’s a big gap. 

Big Screen

The 14-inch MacBook Pro is amazing, in large part because of its screen, which is the same size as that in the old 15-inch MacBook Pros, with the screen borders reduced to make the whole device smaller. One can imagine many people buying it just for the larger screen, which really does make a difference in comfort (I've tried both, and the 13-inch Air feels cramped in comparison). 

But how many people are willing to pay an extra $1,000—doubling their purchase price—just for a bigger screen? Some, clearly, but not all. A 15-inch Air might be just the ticket. The price difference between the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros is $500. So a 15-inch Air might start at $1,500, or perhaps even less. 

Grayscal photo of someone working on a MacBook computer.

Sergey Zolkin / Unsplash

Who would need a bigger screen? Well, anyone. A big screen is nice wherever you use it because you can fit more on-screen at once. Two work windows side-by-side, more space for movies, and the ability to zoom everything, making it easier to see but without losing anything off the edges. 

For portable use, it's even better. At home, one can easily hook an M1 Mac up to a monitor with a single USB-C or Thunderbolt cable. On the go, users might appreciate a bigger mobile virtual office, only without—presumably—the extra heft of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. 

"I own a MacBook Air," knowledge worker and MacBook Air user Ian Sells told Lifewire via email. "In my home setup, it is attached with a 24-inch monitor. If you are a remote worker, a bigger screen is a must. Everybody, especially those who work outside their home, wants something portable and lightweight."

And if Apple adds a 5G data option to its MacBook Air, as one might expect now that its in-house cellular modem chips are almost ready to roll, then a 15-inch Air will be even more compelling for remote work. 

Whether or not this is called a MacBook Air doesn't really matter. Apple seems to be de-confusing its laptop lineup, and whatever its name, a light, portable, powerful MacBook with a big screen and all-day battery really does sound like an incredible machine.

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