The Apple MacBook Air 15-inch gets a teardown - and I’m not impressed

MacBook Air 15-inch (2023)in hand
(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple’s shiny new MacBook Air 15-inch is an odd duck; its larger size runs counter-intuitive to the Air’s original mantra of compact portability, and it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, being equipped with last year’s M2 chip - previously seen in the 2022 13-inch MacBook Air.

We already knew that the internal hardware specs essentially matched those of the 13-inch model, but now we’ve got a proper look inside the MacBook Air 15-inch, courtesy of the hardware repair gurus over at iFixit. And the results are distinctly underwhelming.

As you can see in iFixit’s teardown video below, the 15-inch model comes with the same processor and memory as the smaller model, but very little else has been adjusted. Specifically: there's a redesigned six-speaker array (compared to the 13-inch version’s four) and a larger battery - but don’t expect a longer battery life, since it has to power a larger, higher-resolution display.

Tear it all down

Unsurprisingly, iFixit’s teardown ninjas also noted that the MacBook Air 15-inch’s internals are far from repair-friendly - in fact, having watched the video, I might go so far as to describe it as repair-hostile.

The same was true of the 13-inch variant, but though one might expect a larger chassis to provide a bit more breathing room for wannabe laptop-fixers, it seems that’s not the case. Although Apple expanded its self-repair scheme to Europe last year, it’s still a challenging process - a far cry from the excellent Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition, which I recently reviewed, and other models in that series.

Even putting aside the repairability issues (iFixit scored it 3/10 for ease of repair), it also thoroughly drives home the point that this simply isn’t a very exciting hardware release from Apple. 

The MacBook Air 15-inch was basically the only mainstream consumer product revealed at Apple’s WWDC 2023 event - the Vision Pro AR headset and Mac Studio boast hefty price tags that place them beyond the reach of the average Apple user - so it’s a bit disappointing that the latest MacBook is basically just ‘the same, but a bit bigger’. Hell, I was more stoked to see a price cut on the 13-inch Air.

It’s possible (likely, even) that Apple had hoped to dazzle us with M3 MacBooks at WWDC, but it seems chip shortages mean that we won’t be seeing the M3 chip until next year. This new 15-inch Air already felt like a stop-gap measure to me - and iFixit’s teardown only affirmed that feeling. Oh well - there’s always next year, Apple.

Christian Guyton
Editor, Computing

Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.