Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


MacBook Air (15-inch) vs MacBook Air (13-inch): Which model should you buy?

Apple's latest MacBook Air has a lot in common with its predecessor, but there are also some major differences. Here's the breakdown.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Getty/Bloomberg and Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Apple has announced the latest Mac to join its laptop range at its WWDC developer conference: the 15-inch MacBook Air

Also: All the Mac news from WWDC 2023: Mac Pro, Mac Studio, and M2 Ultra

The MacBook Air is more petite and less powerful than its bigger sibling, the MacBook Pro. But just because the MacBook Air is small doesn't mean it's not mighty. And this year's MacBook Air is larger and beefed up when compared to its 2022 predecessor -- which ended up taking the top spot for ZDNET's Product of the Year

There are a few significant differences between last year's Air and this year's, so let's break them down.

MacBook Air (13-inch, 2022)

MacBook Air (15-inch, 2023)


13.6-inch (2560 x1664) Liquid Retina display, 500 nits brightness

15.3-inch (2880 x 1864) Liquid Retina display, 500 nits brightness


Apple M2 chip, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core GPU

Apple M2 chip, 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU

Battery and Power

30W, up to 18 hours of battery life

30W, up to 18 hours of battery life


MagSafe 3 charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 Thunderbolt ports/ USB 4 ports

MagSafe 3 charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 Thunderbolt ports/USB 4 ports


8GB unified memory, configurable up to 24GB

8GB unified memory, configurable up to 24GB


256GB SSD or 512GB SSD, configurable up to 2TB

256GB SSD or 512GB SSD, configurable up to 2TB


Four-speaker sound system, Spatial Audio support, three-mic array

Six-speaker sound system, Spatial Audio support, three-mic array


11.97in x .44in x 8.46in, 2.7 lbs

13.4in x .45in x 9.35in, 3.3 lbs


Starts at $1,099, up to $1,399

Starts at $1,299, up to $1,499

You should buy the 13-inch MacBook Air if...

1. Want a more affordable option

The base model of the 13-inch MacBook Air is now $200 cheaper than the 15-inch MacBook Air, while still offering most of the same functions and capabilities. Both laptops run on Apple's M2 chip and have almost identical specs. If you've been eyeing the 13-inch MacBook Air with the M2 chip, and don't mind the smaller size, now may be the best time to pull the trigger.

Review: Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022): Sleeker, faster

The 13-inch Air offers just as desirable specs, such as MagSafe charging, seamless connectivity to other Apple devices, and Spatial Audio support. Just stay away from purchasing this laptop in the color Midnight. You'll never rid it of fingerprint residue, trust me.

2. You want the most portable MacBook

The MacBook Air is a great option for students and users who are always on the go. The 13-inch Air, at 2.7 pounds, is thinner, lighter, and smaller than the 15-inch Air (3.3 lbs), making it perfectly sized to fit in a backpack that's crammed with textbooks and binders.

3. Don't require as much computing power

The 15-inch MacBook Air, on paper, offers greater GPU performance than the 13-inch Air, but if you don't heavily game or run video-editing software, we've found the latter to be more than competent. For streaming YouTube, casually surfing the web, making FaceTime calls, and answering emails, the 13-inch Air is more than enough.

You should buy the 15-inch MacBook Air if you...

MacBook Air 15-inch at WWDC
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

1. Need a major (and larger) upgrade to your laptop

If you currently own a Macbook Air (or Pro) that's several years old, then the 15-inch Air may be worth the leap. That's especially true if you're willing to spend an extra $200 for a larger screen and better speakers.

Also: Apple just announced a ton of software features at WWDC. Here's everything new

With enhanced graphics and better interoperability with your other Apple devices, a MacBook Air that runs Apple's M2 chip offers a streamlined and highly integrated experience within your personal Apple ecosystem.

2. Value a large screen that's surprisingly portable

If the 13-inch Air is a tad too small, the extra two inches on the 2023 MacBook should make a difference for you. The 15-inch MacBook Air offers a larger display but stays true to the Air's sleek and lightweight design, giving a surprisingly lightweight impression for the size. 

Also: How to preorder Apple's new MacBook Air, Mac Studio, and Mac Pro

And if you frequently find yourself needing more space for browsing, tab management, or consuming content, then the 15-inch display offers a greater viewing experience and listening experience (thanks to the six speakers instead of four).

It's also important to note that while this year's MacBook Air has a larger display, increased pixel resolution, and a little more computing power, Apple has still omitted an internal fan in order to keep the form factor thin and lightweight. We'll have to see how it fares with controlling its temperature in the full review.

Alternatives to consider

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon
Editorial standards