13-Inch vs. 15-Inch MacBook Air Buyer's Guide

The MacBook Air continues to be available in 13- and 15-inch sizes after Apple's latest refresh that added the M3 chip. The 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ offers almost all of the same hardware with a significantly larger display, yet there are still some key differences that are worth considering when purchasing one of the machines.

MacBook Air Multiple Sizes Feature
The 13- and 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ models are almost exactly the same in terms of feature set and design, both sporting high-resolution Liquid Retina displays, Touch ID, two Thunderbolt ports, and much more. Both machines can be configured with the exact same amounts of memory and storage, and they are both available in the same color options. This simplifies purchasing decisions to just a few important aspects.

Key Differences

13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌
13.6-inch Liquid Retina display 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display
M2 or M3 chip M3 chip
Starts with 8-Core GPU 10-Core GPU
Four-speaker sound system Six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers
Integrated 52.6-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery Integrated 66.5-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
30W USB-C Power Adapter (with 8-core GPU chip) or 35W Dual Port Compact Power Adapter 35W Dual Port Compact Power Adapter
Starts at $999 Starts at $1,299

It is important to note that while the 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ has a battery that is 13.9-watt-hours larger than the 13-inch model, both machines have the same 18-hour battery life. This is likely due to the increased power consumption of the larger display.

If you plan to heavily use your laptop's built-in speakers, the 15-inch model offers a worthwhile reason to get the larger model, offering two extra speakers inside the larger chassis. The smaller ‌MacBook Air‌ also misses out on the force-canceling woofers that are present in the 15-inch model, meaning that its audio isn't quite as good.

Since size is the main difference between the two ‌MacBook Air‌ models, prospective customers may wish to drill into the specific dimensions and weight of the machines. The 15-inch model adds 0.6 pounds (0.27 kg) and may be more difficult to get into a bag or backpack due to its larger footprint.

Dimensions

13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌
Height 0.44 inch (1.13 cm) 0.45 inch (1.15 cm)
Width 11.97 inches (30.41 cm) 13.40 inches (34.04 cm)
Depth 8.46 inches (21.5 cm) 9.35 inches (23.76 cm)
Weight 2.7 pounds (1.24 kg) 3.3 pounds (1.51 kg)

While the 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ with the M3 chip starts at $1,099, making it $200 cheaper than the 15-inch model, if you choose the 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ with a 10-core GPU, this price difference shrinks to $100. If you add the 35W Dual Port Compact Power Adapter, the difference shrinks to just $80. With this in mind, most users considering an M3 model should opt for the 15-inch model since it provides much more screen real-estate and better speakers.

You should only buy the M3 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ if you specifically want a lighter, more portable device and are concerned about having to carry a device as large as the 15-inch model around. Likewise, the 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ is a better buy if you are price-conscious and don't need anything more than an 8-core GPU and the 30W USB-C Power Adapter. The $1,099 13-inch model is still quite a bit more affordable than the 15-inch ‌MacBook Air‌, with virtually no compromises in terms of features.

The 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ is also available with the ‌M2‌ chip for $999. This is the ‌MacBook Air‌ Apple introduced in mid-2022 and it now represents an entry-level model. If affordability is your main concern, this 13-inch model is the best choice, coming in at $300 less than the 15-inch M3 model.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

sw1tcher Avatar
11 months ago

MacBook Air is undoubtedly a great computer, however do you remember how proud Steve Jobs was pulling the original one out of that envelope during the presentation? The whole point of Air was to have a very light and portable computer to carry around. So to me it feels kind of sad to see Air getting bigger and heavier.
2008 13" MacBook Air specs

Height: 0.16 inches to 0.76 inches
Width: 12.8 inches
Depth: 8.94 inches
Weight: 3.0 lbs (1.36 kg)

2023 13" MacBook Air specs

Height: 0.44 inch (1.13 cm)
Width: 11.97 inches (30.41 cm)
Depth: 8.46 inches (21.5 cm)
Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.24 kg)


The current 13-inch MacBook Air has less width, depth and weight than original MacBook Air. The original MacBook Air might have been thinner (0.16 inch) in some areas, but it also was thicker (0.76 inch) in others compared to the all-around thickness of 0.44 inch now.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Falhófnir Avatar
11 months ago
Think the 15" is now more or less the best default MacBook for most casual users. 13" if portability is really, really important to you, or a 14/16" Pro if you need the most power, but the 15" occupies a really sweet spot in the lineup in terms of form factor, features and pricing.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ccsicecoke Avatar
11 months ago
No new tech on 15 MBA.
Missing tons of features/ports.
MSRP should be below $1000
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sw1tcher Avatar
11 months ago

I was talking about an 11” model, which was super easy to carry about.
You said "do you remember how proud Steve Jobs was pulling the original one out of that envelope during the presentation?"

Steve Jobs pulled out from a manila envelope a 13.3-inch MacBook Air, not an 11.6-inch MacBook Air. The 11.6-inch Air didn't come out until 2 years later.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HobeSoundDarryl Avatar
11 months ago
Very impressive and I'm shocked Apple Inc didn't seek to jack this price as I expected before the reveal. It seems to be THE Apple laptop for anyone, even up to modest "power users." I've never purchased less than a MBpro before, but I have to say I'm tempted to save money and shift any "heavier lifting" to the desktop Mac.

I thought my next laptop purchase would be M3 MBpro, but that is pretty shaken by this model.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KPOM Avatar
11 months ago
Most users won't notice the difference between the 8- and 10-core GPUs, but it is nice that Apple is including the higher specs in the base 15" model.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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