The usual tech outlets, as well as Laptop Mag, rolled out their in-depth reviews of the brand spankin' new 15-inch M2 MacBook Air, including Digital Trends, MacRumors, Engadget, Ars Technica, The Verge — you name it.
Even GQ, a men's lifestyle magazine, reviewed the new MacBook Air 15. I was far from surprised when the site said the laptop has a "big screen with a small package." Clever.
Overall, the critical reception of the new MacBook Air is mostly positive with almost every reviewer praising the laptop for three things: long battery life, a damn good keyboard and trackpad, and its spacious, eye-catching 15.3-inch display. In our in-house testing, the MacBook Air 15 lasted just one minute short of 15 hours!
However, it isn't all rainbows and butterflies with the MacBook Air 15. I noticed some recurring cons of Apple's latest MacBook offering. Here are the top three most mentioned disadvantages of the new-gen laptop.
1. Where are all the ports?
The common thread among most reviews is that the 15-inch M2 MacBook Air is stingy with its port offerings, which has always been the Air's modus operandi. When the first-generation MacBook Air debuted in 2008, it ruffled reviewers' feathers that it packed just one USB 2.0 Type-A port, an audio jack, and a micro-DVI port. Plus, it lacked an optical drive. (I mean, if this laptop is going to famously fit inside a manila folder, the CD drive and extraneous ports had to go.)
Now, it's 2023 and the MacBook Air still has a similar design language: a slim chassis and limited ports. Unfortunately for Apple, reviewers still haven't gotten over its ports-sparse design, which is understandable. For those who need more I/O options, they'll be stuck in dongle hell.
The new MacBook Air 15 only comes with a pair of Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports and an audio jack. (You're lucky Apple even gave you the latter because it has a highly rated portfolio of wireless headphones it could have forced you to use, including the AirPods Pro 2 and the Apple AirPods Max.)
However, given its extra size boost from the 13.6-inch MacBook Air, sites like CNET and The Verge were disappointed that Apple couldn't squeeze in more ports. "Why not more ports?" CNET's Scott Stein wondered. "I'd expect at least one more on a 15-inch laptop, and it feels awfully ridiculous to have so few. At least offer a port upgrade option."
2. The M2 chip doesn't offer much of a performance boost
Rumor has it that Apple planned on outfitting the 15-inch MacBook Air with a powerful new M3 chip, however, something threw a wrench in its plans, so the newer, bigger MacBook Air still has the same M2 chip, which is a year old at this point.
The issue with this is that another rumor — a solid one that comes from well-respected Apple leaker Mark Gurman — claims that Apple is currently working on an M3-packed MacBook Air 15. With a faster, more powerful 15-inch MacBook Air reportedly hurtling our way next year, why on earth would I invest at least $1,300 on a laptop with a passé processor?
The M2 chip still has a lot of oomph to it, particularly its 10-core GPU (a step up from the 8-core GPU offered in the entry-level 13.6-inch MacBook Air.) However, it isn't au courant, so the 8-core CPU had difficulty staving off other laptop competitors with 13th Gen Intel processors in our review.
3. The notch doesn't have many fans
Many reviewers commented negatively about the 15-inch MacBook Air's notch, wondering why it's conspicuously jutting out of the top bezel — and it doesn't even have FaceID.
"I wish the notch weren't quite so big as it is, especially since, unlike the iPhone Pros, there's no Face ID camera, but so be it," Stein said.
Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham concurred: "The one thing I still don't like about this era of MacBook design is the notch at the top of the screen, ostensibly added to make room for a 1080p webcam without adding the need for a bump or protrusion."
PCMag's review called it "a little distracting," however, most reviewers said that it's not a deal breaker, and with time, users may grow accustomed to it.
Although these three cons were the most commonly pointed out disadvantages, keep in mind that the M2-packed MacBook Air 15 earned rave reviews across the board. One thing I didn't mention at the outset is how many reviewers were impressed with the new laptop's speakers.
"I was so stunned when I first turned on a bass-heavy song that I thought it must’ve been coming from a Bluetooth speaker somewhere else," The Verge's Monica Chin said. After all, the MacBook Air 15 has a new six-speaker setup, an upgrade from the M2 MacBook Air 13's quad-speaker array. PCMag's Brian Westover also praised the MacBook Air 15's audio, adding that it delivers "surprisingly big sound."
The MacBook Air 15 starts at $1,299 via Apple's official website and comes with the M2 chip, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. If you want more storage, you'll have to shell out an extra $200 for the configuration with 512GB of storage.
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Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!