The MacBook Air 15-inch is a missed opportunity – it's too boring

woman shrugging next to 15 inch macbook air
(Image credit: Future)

The MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) has been the subject of rumors for months before finally making its official debut during Apple’s WWDC 2023 event. It was a reveal that should have turned heads, a shakeup of the normally smaller MacBook Air and a design choice that would put it squarely in the company of some of the best 15-inch laptops on the market.

Except that if you look up what’s been trending since the conference’s keynote address on June 5, you’ll find that barely anyone’s talking about this new addition to the MacBook Air lineup. Instead, all the attention has been on the Apple Vision Pro, the tech giant’s long-anticipated and apparently quite expensive entry into the VR market.

Of course, it’s huge a huge deal as well, and it’s to be expected that plenty of press coverage and consumer talks circle around it. However, there should still be tons of publicity surrounding a new entry into one of the best-selling laptop series ever. 

So what happened?

It’s honestly kind of mid

In order to figure out why there seems to be such an attention black hole when it comes to this refresh, it’s important to look at what this new product is offering compared to other products in the MacBook Air line. When looking at the specs of this new MacBook Air 15-inch versus the MacBook Air 13-inch from 2022, it becomes clear that Apple has barely changed anything.

Nearly everything, from the port selection to the chassis to even the components themselves, is almost identical to the 13-inch version. There’s really only a difference in the display resolution, screen size, and getting the upgrade to Thunderbolt 4. Apart from that, the chassis is exactly the same, which just proves how out of touch Apple is with design trends, a fall from grace from the once trend-setting tech giant.

The most obvious way Apple could have upgraded the 15-inch model would have been to use an M2 Pro chip, which would actually make it a proper rival to the Dell XPS 15 (2022), which is easily one of the best Windows laptops and the best laptop in general. Instead, it gets the standard M2 chip, a solid chip in its own right but not enough to make the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) compelling. 

This decision to keep the same chip the 13-inch MacBook Air is using makes it completely pointless to even change the display size since its performance would be close or on par with the smaller and cheaper 13-inch version. 

The Apple Vision Pro didn’t help

Ignoring the honestly very average specs and design of the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023), there’s another major player that has managed to steal the spotlight from its reveal. The Apple Vision Pro had also been subject to a long period of rumors and reports, even right up to its reveal during the keynote. And with good reason, as it’s an exciting piece of technology that’s sure to shake up the VR industry.

Of course, what ended up really trending about the VR headset after the keynote was its absolutely ridiculous price point of $3,499 (around £2,800 / AU$5,300) and how dystopian the description and demonstration of the product felt. But whether the publicity is positive or negative, it’s still a huge conversation starter with plenty of think pieces among tech industry professionals to boot. So in that regard, it was certainly successful in its goal of being an attention grabber.

Unfortunately, this also leaves the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) in the proverbial dust, with barely a compliment or criticism to be found beyond standard news pieces highlighting the most important features of the laptop. At least, as we've often seen, it's better to have bad publicity than no publicity at all. If people care about a product, it's easier to influence their opinions on it versus if it doesn't even exist in their minds in the first place.

What could have been

If Apple had invested more in this product, then the MacBook Air 15-inch (2023) could have stood a chance of generating a lot of public interest. There are plenty of ways that the tech giant could have gone about this. 

That includes using the M2 Pro silicon instead of the vanilla M2 chip, upgrading the other specs to increase performance, improving the display (maybe even to an OLED) and camera, and increasing its port selection, to name several. And for the love of all good things, Apple could have done something more unique with the design. It’s embarrassing to see Windows machines that originally emulated the classic MacBook aesthetic completely surpass it now.

Who knows how the 15-inch MacBook Air will actually sell? It could end up being a supremely popular laptop and all this was for nothing. But if sales turn out to be disappointing, and I believe that they will be, then Apple has a lot to consider about all these pointless product releases that add nothing to its lineup and could only be damaging its brand.

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.