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The Case for a 15-Inch MacBook Air

Commentary: Apple doesn't currently offer a 15-inch laptop, and hasn't had a different MacBook Air size since 2016.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
3 min read
M2 MacBook Air on a table
Dan Ackerman/CNET

Apple's iconic MacBook Air laptop is only available with a 13-inch screen, for now. 

A steady stream of rumors points to a new 15-inch MacBook Air debuting at Apple's upcoming WWDC conference keynote on June 5. The latest not-quite-confirmation comes from Bloomberg's noted Apple prognosticator, Mark Gurman, who previously said the new 15-inch Air will join WatchOS 10, iOS 17, MacOS 15 and Apple's long-awaited mixed-reality headset, and more recently tweeted that he expects "several new Macs" at the event. 

In addition to the rumored 15-inch Air, that could mean an updated Mac Studio desktop, updates to the current 13-inch Air and Pro models, or even the long-promised Mac Pro desktop, which is Apple's only remaining Intel-powered computer. 

This would not be the first time Apple has offered a MacBook Air in a different screen size. From 2010 to 2016, the company offered an 11-inch MacBook Air, which we reviewed several times during its six-year lifespan

Apple MacBook Air (11-inch, 2013)

The 11-inch MacBook Air. 

Read more: Best MacBook for 2023

Following that, Apple released the 12-inch MacBook (minus the "Air"). That small system ended up being one of my favorite laptops of all time, but it has sadly also been discontinued. 

Further, Apple's long-standing 15-inch MacBook Pro vanished in 2019, replaced by new 14-inch and 16-inch versions, leaving Apple without a 15-inch laptop, which is still one of the most common screen sizes for Windows laptops.  

Apple Macbook 12-inch 2017

The 12-inch MacBook.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Throughout all this, the 13-inch Air has remained a standard, although the exact screen dimensions shifted a bit between the 16:10 aspect ratio of the M1 Air and the slightly larger 3:2 aspect ratio of the newer M2 MacBook Air. 

But there's an excellent case to be made for a 15-inch version of the MacBook Air. The 13-inch MacBook Air remains my default choice as the single most universally useful laptop for most people. But a 13-inch screen, no matter how good, isn't necessarily big enough to be your all-day, everyday laptop. Especially if, like me, you have a set of aging eyes, bigger screens are becoming more important.  

The problem is that the least-expensive 14-inch MacBook Pro is $1,999. The least-expensive 16-inch MacBook Pro is $2,499. That's a big jump from the $1,199 13-inch MacBook Air. 


A 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2018. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The idea of jumping into a larger 15-inch screen for a MacBook Air, using the same M2 chip as the 13-inch Air is an appealing one, especially if it adds only a modest premium to the price. Personally, I'd say around $1,300 to $1,400 would be a reasonable starting price, if you assume it would have specs similar to those of the 13-inch M2 Air. 

Watch this: Why Apple Needs a 15-inch MacBook Air

This is far from the first time we've talked about this. A quick Google search revealed that I wrote about the potential appeal of a 15-inch MacBook Air way back in 2012. According to a poll we ran in 2012, a 15-inch Air was the winner among CNET readers for the most-anticipated laptop of 2012.

We were clearly jumping the gun back then, but a mere decade later, it may finally be time to give the MacBook Air a supersized option.