Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Bigger, bolder, faster, better

It's all about the speed and the space

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW
Best in Class
(Image: © Future / Lance Ulanoff)

TechRadar Verdict

The Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) is thin, light (for its size), and offers almost unbeatable performance in its class. It's a big-screen companion that's ready for work, entertainment, play, and AI, and will easily remain atop our best 15-inch laptop buying guide.


  • +

    Big screen

  • +

    Midnight finish

  • +

    Excellent performance

  • +



  • -

    Other than size, it's the same as the 13-inch model

  • -

    Essentially the same weight as a MacBook Pro

  • -

    It should have better battery life than the 13-inch system

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Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3): Two-minute review

Sometimes I struggle to explain why someone might choose a larger, heavier MacBook Air 15-inch over the super-light and thin 13-inch version. It's an especially difficult conversation because, aside from size, there are no functional differences between the new Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) and equally-new 13-inch M3 model – and while you're here you'll also want to check out our in-depth Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M3) review.

Aesthetically, they have the same design. MacBook Air left the wedge look behind a couple of years ago (and officially canceled it this year with the removal of the M1 MacBook Air) and now sports a flat and still pleasing slab look. Both MacBook Airs are made of recycled aluminum and an anodized midnight black finish that does a decent if imperfect job of repelling fingerprints (space black on the MacBook Pro hides the prints a little better).

The Magic Keyboards and trackpads are essentially the same, including the quite useful Touch ID/power/sleep button. 

They have similar, spatial-audio-capable sound systems that I like (though I tend to use AirPod Pros with them so as not to disturb my office mates). Due to the larger size of the MacBook Air 15-inch, however, you get two extra speakers (six rather than four), and the 15-inch model's speakers include force-canceling woofers that offers decent bass without causing distracting vibrations. 

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Ultimately, it all comes down to size. The MacBook Air 15-inch offers significantly larger palm rests, which makes my typing experience that much better. The screen, though no sharper than the MacBook Pro 13-inch's 224ppi Liquid Retina display, adds hundreds of pixels to make it the most expansive MacBook Air experience available.

And that's what it comes down to – more space. Is that worth an extra $200? Perhaps. I've been using the MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) for the better part of a week and already am a little spoiled by the extra screen real estate and roomy keyboard base.

It still bothers me that, despite the larger, thicker, and heavier chassis, the 15-inch MacBook Air offers no more battery life than its substantially smaller sibling. Still, having a powerful M3 chip inside makes this a big-screen workhorse that might turn a few heads from the pricier MacBook Pro 14-inch that can also be configured to feature an M3 chip. Sure, you give up an SD card slot, an HDMI port, a little bit of battery life, and that higher-resolution screen, but you get a larger screen, a slightly lighter system, and save $300.

Overall, I think for those who demand more screen real estate (without connecting it to up to two external displays – but while keeping the laptop closed), the 15-inch MacBook Air is the right choice.

Compared to the 15-inch laptop market, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will maintain its leadership position atop our best 15-inch Laptop buying guide. It's better looking, faster, and either comparable or more affordable than many of the top-tier models available from Dell, HP, and Razer (I'm not talking about heavy, bargain basement 15-inch models, by the way).

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Price and availability

  • Announced on March 4, 2024
  • Shipping March 8
  • Base model is $1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,199

The Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 (2024) begins shipping out globally to customers on March 8, 2024. Our guide on where to buy the MacBook Air M3 features all the latest offers and availability.

The base model starts at $1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,199 and ships with an M3 CPU (8-core CPU and 10-core GPU ), 8 GB of unified memory, and a 256GD SSD. The system is configurable to up to 24GB of memory, and 2TB SSD. My test unit arrived with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD, a configuration that would run you $1,499.

While it can be hard to directly compare Intel Core i7 systems with those running Apple silicon, the price of the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 base model still compares favorably to Core i7 systems like the Dell XPS 15.

  • Price score: 4.5/5

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Specs

The Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 (2024) is available in three configurations that essentially add memory and storage but otherwise leave the base system unchanged.

You get your money's worth, but I do think it's time for the base model of all MacBook Airs to start with at least 512GB of storage.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
The specs of our Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review unit are in the center column
MacBook Air 15-inch M3 (2024) 256GBMacBook Air 15-inch M3 (2024) 512GBMacBook Air 15-inch M3 (2024)
Price:$1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,199$1,499 / £1,599 / AU$2,499$1,699 / £1,699 / AU$2,799
CPU:Apple M3 (8-core)Apple M3 (8-core)Apple M3 (8-core)
Graphics:Integrated 10-core GPUIntegrated 10-core GPUIntegrated 10-core GPU
RAM:8GB unified memory8GB unified memory16GB unified memory
Screen:15.3-inch, 2880 x 1864 Liquid Retina display, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut15.3-inch, 2880 x 1864 Liquid Retina display, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut15.3-inch, 2880 x 1864 Liquid Retina display, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut
Storage:256GB SSD512GB SDD512GB SDD
Ports:2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 32x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 32x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 3
Wireless:Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3
Camera:1080p FaceTime HD webcam1080p FaceTime HD webcam1080p FaceTime HD webcam
Weight:3.3 lbs (1.51kg)3.3 lbs (1.51kg)3.3 lbs (1.51kg)
Dimensions:13.40 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches (340 x 212 x 15.6mm)13.40 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches (340 x 212 x 15.6mm)13.40 x 9.35 x 0.45 inches (340 x 212 x 15.6mm)

Each of these options can be configured to add more memory (up to 24GB), and add storage up to 2TB. 

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Design

  • Larger 15-inch screen
  • Design unchanged from M2 MacBook Air 15-inch
  • The Midnight finish rebuffs fingerprints

I know some people still mourn the loss of the MacBook Air's original wedge shape and like to imagine what that would look like on a 15-inch model, but the slab look of the new MacBook Airs (now on their second generation) has grown on me. The recycled aluminum chassis is all clean lines and buffed corners.

The dimensions of this M3-sporting MacBook Air match those of the last 15-inch model. It's still 0.45 (11.5mm) inches thick (a hair thicker than the 13-inch model, which is 11.3mm thick), 13.40 inches wide, and 9.35 inches deep. The portable weighs 3.3 lbs, which is a little more than half a pound heavier than the 13-inch model. That's still pretty lightweight for a 15-inch model. However, as much as I like this big screen, I still prefer carrying the lightest possible laptop and would probably choose the 2.7 lb. MacBook Air 13-inch over this one. 

Apple offers the MacBook Air in a variety of colors (silver, starlight, space gray, and midnight)  but my preference is for the new midnight, which like space black (available on the MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max I reviewed last year) is anodized to cut down on fingerprints. Because midnight is not as dark as the black, it's not quite as successful at hiding all of my fingerprints. I hope that future MacBook Airs get the  awesome space black option.

The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 design is, in some ways, cleaner than that of the MacBook Pro. Where the latter has fine speaker grills on either side of the keyboard, the MacBook Air 15 – which has room for speakers – is all smooth metal. I like the look of it.

Apple's Magic Keyboard remains one of my favorite ultraportable typing experiences. There's a pleasing amount of travel and response and, of course, lots of room to work. Similarly, the force touch trackpad is huge and responsive. I still wish Apple would offer an update where you could draw on the touchpad using an Apple Pencil (a guy can dream, can't he?).

As you might expect the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is not packed with every port you can imagine or need. There is, however, a pair of Thunderbolt ports capable of driving up to two external displays (but only with the laptop closed). I used my test system with it connected to a Targus 7-port universal USB-C adapter, which was then connected to a 24-inch HD display. The ports are also useful for data and power. They both sit on one side of the laptop, next to the MagSafe charge port. On the other side is that vestigial 3.5mm headphone jack that audiophiles will appreciate. Apple should add one more USB-C port on this side of the laptop. Maybe they will the next time they redesign the MacBook Air.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

One of the big (get it?) selling points of the 15-inch MacBook Air is the expansive Liquid Retina display. It's still 224ppi but where the 13-inch MacBook Air's 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display offers a resolution of 2560 x 1664 pixels, my 15-inch MacBook Air's 15.3-inch display offers a 2880 x 1864 resolution, which means hundreds more pixels and a lot more screen real estate

There is a lot to love about this display. It supports 1 billion colors and and the P3 wide color gamut. This means that everything from the depressing Netflix movie Spaceman to games like Death Stranding Directors Cut looks excellent. 500 nits is not necessarily the brightest screen, but I found the display viable in all manner of light situations.

I have grown used to the rather larger notch at the top of the screen, which accommodates the Facetime camera. That 1080p camera is also excellent for Google Meets, and Zoom conferences. One person told me I looked "crystal clear" during our one-on-one video meeting, while another, who was part of a more bandwidth-constrained group meeting, told me I looked a bit cartoonish.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Performance

  • Powered by M3 chip
  • It does it all
  • All the power and intelligence you need for local AI tasks

Here’s how the MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Geekbench 6.2.2 Single-Core: 3,102; Multi-Core: 12,052 Battery Life (Web Surfing test): 15 hours and 3 minutes

In Apple silicon's short history, there has yet to be a shred of disappointment. Every iteration builds on the last in spectacular fashion. I've tested every Apple silicon update from the initial M1 to this new class of M3 chips and, without exception, each one is as blindingly fast and as efficient as an SoC (System on Chip) can be. 

Without Apple silicon, the MacBook Air 15-inch would be a relatively lightweight, big-screen laptop bursting with Apple's signature style but perhaps weighed down a bit by Intel's still underperforming desktop-class silicon.

With the M3, my MacBook Air 15-inch is fast, flexible, and ready for just about anything. Its Geekbench 6 numbers are noticeably higher than those of the previous-class M2 MacBook Air 15-inch. 

In real-world use, the ultrabook is as effective an everyday browsing and information-gathering system as it is a platform for intense image editing and a wide array of onboard and in-the-cloud AI operations.

In Adobe Photoshop, I asked the Firefly Generative AI platform to create a whole picture based on a thumbnail of a house in the hills. The result came instantly and looked real but also dreamy. 

When I asked the local AI engine Freechat for a presentation on horology, it quickly spit out an outline for all my slides. It would not, however, create the slide images. And when I asked Microsoft's Copilot for images, the cloud-based app took a bit longer but I eventually got a bunch of pictures of "A middle-aged bald guy with glasses using a laptop in the middle of a magical park".

I tried the same prompt with the local AI tool DiffusionBee (it lets you download the image models to the MacBook) and while it was a bit faster, the results were not nearly as good.

If you're wondering why I'm suddenly talking about generative AI in the context of a MacBook Air, blame Apple. The company's been doing AI forever and has built every Apple Silicon SoC with an onboard Neural Egninge but only recently started touting its AI bona fides because, well, everyone else is doing it.

To be fair, it's clear to me that whatever generative AI skills Apple introduces at WWDC 2024 in June, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 will be ready for it.

The MacBook Air 15-inch M3 is also an able gaming system. I played Death Stranding: Directors Cut and Asphalt 8 (with a connected PlayStation Controller). The M3 is well-equipped to handle HD-level gameplay on both games. I tried cranking the resolution up to the max on DeathStranding, but the frame rate sputters to well below 30fps. If you want to play AAA games on this laptop at a smooth 60fps, you'll want to keep the resolution at an HD level (1920x1080). In that setting, I could still see the texture of Léa Seydoux's skin.

On the connectivity front, Apple upgraded the WiFi from Wifi 6 to WiFi 6E. Bluetooth is the same as it was on the last model: 5.3.

Part of the reason you want this (or really and MacBook) is because of the platform. MacOS is not only a mature operating system. it's one that manages to feel unencumbered by its years of existence. Apple's managed to marry its fast and efficient Apple silicon with a desktop-class OS without any noticeable compromises.

This is a system that works, is flexible, and never crashes. Better yet, all your favorite apps already work on it. Perhaps even more exciting is that macOS and Apple Silicon are slowly but surely becoming a viable platform for gaming. AAA titles like Lies of Pi feel perfectly at home and, I can tell you, they are a joy to play on the large 15.3-inch display.

  • Performance score: 4.5/5

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Battery life

  • Lasts almost 18 hours
  • Still charges quickly

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch M3 REVIEW

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

If you want to know why I love the current generation of MacBooks, it's not just because of their good looks and blazing performance: It's the battery life. I absolutely love a laptop that can deliver a full day of work without being plugged in.

Apple promises 15 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video streaming. In our Future Labs tests and my anecdotal ones, the MacBook Air 15-inch M3 lives up to those promises. We got over 15 hours of continuous web browsing. I spent the better part of a day unplugged and only truly taxed the battery when I played Death Stranding, a game that can zap a full battery in a matter of a few hours (I had a similar experience when gaming on the MacBook Pro 14 M3 Max).

My only criticism is that I wish the larger MacBook Air 15-inch provided more battery life than the smaller MacBook Air 13-inch. 

  • Battery score: 4.5/5

Should you buy the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3)?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3)
PriceA good value for this level of design, performance, and portability4.5/5
DesignThin, clean looks, fantastic keyboard and display,high-quality build, excellent color4.5/5
PerformanceThe M3 is a powerful and efficient, a perfect match for an ultrabook4.5/5
Battery lifeThis laptop is ready to work all day and beyond4.5/5

Buy it if...

You're looking to marry thin and light with a big screen
You won't get more battery life but all that screen real estate is enticing.

You want Apple Silicon without the price or heft
This 15-inch laptop is a great alternative to the pricier entry-level MacBook Pro.

You want the best-looking 15-inch laptop
No one makes laptops like Apple and macOS is one of the most reliable platforms on the planet.

Don't buy it if...

You value portability above all else
This is a MacBook Air that comes perilously close to blowing the "air" part of the name. It's light for 15 inches but also over 3 lbs. 

You want more battery life for the size and money
Apple still can't figure out how to make a 15-inch MacBook Air that gets more battery life than its much smaller MacBook Air 13-inch sibling.

Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) review: Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
MacBook Air 13-inch (M2)Dell XPS 13 Plus
Price:$999 / £999 / AU$1,599$1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,339
CPU:Apple M2 (8-core)Intel Core i7-1280P (14-core)
Graphics:Integrated 10-core GPUIntel Iris Xe
RAM:8GB unified memory16GB LPDDR5
Screen:13.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,664 Liquid Retina display (backlit LED, IPS, 500 nits brightness, wide color P3 gamut)13.4-inch, 3,456 x 2,160, 60Hz, OLED, Touch, Anti-Reflect, 400 nit
Storage:256GB SSD512GB
Ports:2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), 3.5mm headphone jack, MagSafe 32 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C)
Wireless:Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera:1080p FaceTime HD webcam720p, 30 FPS HD
Weight:2.7 pounds (1.24kg)2.77 pounds (1.26kg)
Dimensions:11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches (30.41 x 21.5 x 1.13cm)11.63 x 7.84 x 0.60 inches (29.54 x 19.91 x 1.52 cm)

If our MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) review has you considering other options, here are two laptops to consider...  


Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, M2, 2022)
The follow-up to one of the best laptops ever released, the 2022 MacBook Air is svelte and sleek. It comes with the same M2 CPU as found in the 15-inch model, so if you want the same performance but with a smaller, more portable, design, this is the one to get.

Check out our <a href="" data-link-merchant=""">Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review 


Dell XPS 13 Plus
Its sleek and slim design, combined with a gorgeous OLED screen, great sound quality, and lattice-free keyboard embodies the luxury inherit of an Ultrabook. However, it’s also prone to overheating, and the touch bar is annoyingly inaccessible.

Read more: <a href="" data-link-merchant=""">Dell XPS 13 Plus review

How I tested the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3)

  • I used the MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) for most of the week
  • I used it as my day-to-day work laptop
  • I ran a number of cloud and local Generative AI operations on it

I received the Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M3) at the start of the week and, after quickly unboxing it, adopted the laptop as my work system. 

I used it to produce stories, edit photos, play games, watch movies, read content, and generate AI-based images and text. 

I've been testing laptops and technology for over 30 years.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2024

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.