It’s looking increasingly likely that Apple will unveil a 15-inch MacBook Air at WWDC 2023 on June 5 – and if it does, I’m looking forward to being proved wrong.
Rumors that Apple will release a larger version of the Air have been around for months, with the likes of Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claiming that a 15-inch Air will be one of several new MacBooks launched at WWDC.
Thus far, I’ve dismissed these claims as unlikely. After all, why would Apple make a large version of the MacBook Air, a laptop whose main selling point is that it’s thin, light and portable?
However, according to Macworld (opens in new tab), referencing a report from DigiTimes, stock of the 15-inch MacBook Air is already making its way into stores – despite the fact that the laptop hasn’t even been announced yet.
The fact that this rumor comes from a source familiar with supply chains, and that it isn’t about the laptop merely existing – but rather, about it actually being delivered – has led me to reconsider my stance. Yes, I’m increasingly convinced that there will be a new 15-inch MacBook Air, and that it will be announced imminently at WWDC.
Prove me wrong, Apple
While I’m happy to admit that I may be wrong about the existence of a 15-inch MacBook Air, what I really want is to be proved wrong about the wisdom of releasing such a laptop.
As Macworld reports, the 15-inch MacBook Air will supposedly come with the same M2 chip as that inside last year’s MacBook Air (M2, 2022). So, performance will likely be almost identical to the smaller MacBook Air, though there may be a bigger battery thanks to the larger body.
However, the only major difference will be screen size, with the 15-inch MacBook Air set to offer a much larger display compared to the 13.6-inch panel on last year’s model.
I imagine, as with the MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch models, the larger screen will also feature a higher resolution, which means pixel density, and therefore image quality and sharpness, will remain the same on both MacBook Airs. Otherwise, the 15-inch screen may look slightly worse.
Assuming that both models of the MacBook Air will come with similar pixel density, the benefits of the new MacBook will likely be confined to the larger screen size. If you like the idea of a larger screen, but want the slimline design of the MacBook Air, then this will appeal. However, it’s likely that the 15-inch MacBook Air will be considerably more expensive than the 13-inch model.
Given that last year’s MacBook Air was already much more expensive than the M1 model that came before it, that’s quite worrying. Earlier MacBook Airs were sold as as an affordable way to get a MacBook, as well as being thinner and lighter – but if this one nudges into MacBook Pro territory, that’s another selling point gone.
So, I’d love Apple to surprise me by launching the 15-inch MacBook Air at a compellingly affordable price. Or better still, it could sell it at the same $1,199 (£1,249 / AU$1,899) price as the current 13-inch model, but drop the price of the smaller version. Not a very Apple move, maybe, but a welcome one.
Apple needs to convince me with the design, too. I loved the new look of the 2022 MacBook Air, and I assume the 15-inch model will follow its lead visually. But if it is just a larger, less portable, version of the 13-inch MacBook Air, then I’m not too sure what the point of it will be. The 13-inch model will remain the best laptop for most people, with the new 15-inch version being a much more niche proposition.
Of course, I’m not the only person Apple needs to convince – its MacBook and Mac sales are down, so this is the perfect time to release a new device that impresses the public. That means Apple needs to show something special at WWDC and prove us doubters wrong. If any company can do it, though, it’s Apple.