A new report yesterday said that Apple is working on a new 15-inch MacBook Air, for potential release in 2023.

There are no further details at this stage, but to me such a machine makes a huge amount of sense, and could be the perfect MacBook model for many users …

Apple has traditionally conflated screen size with power. The MacBook Air offered small screen sizes (as small as 11 inches) and modest power. The MacBook Pro offered larger screen sizes (up to 17 inches) and higher specs.

Looked at from one side of the equation, that made sense. If you want a powerful machine suitable for running professional audiovisual apps, you likely want a decent-sized screen. So pro specs should mean a large screen.

But Apple seemingly forgot to look at the other side. People may want a large screen without needing beefy processing power. Those people were then forced to pay the substantial premium for a MacBook Pro when they had no need for the higher specs.

There are many reasons people might want a large-screened MacBook Air. Being able to work with two windows side by side is an obvious one. You don’t have to be using pro apps to benefit from this. A student might have a website open as they write a paper. A keen cook might have a recipe open as they compile a shopping list. A writer may have their notes open as they write (if they haven’t yet heard of Scrivener!). There are countless possibilities.

Another reason might be older users with degraded eye-sight wanting a larger screen for usability reasons.

Yet another is the immersiveness of a larger screen when watching movies.

Indeed, people have been calling for larger-screened MacBook Airs for many years. Zac Hall, for example, in 2016:

My hope has been for a MacBook that prioritizes “thinness” over power to deliver a larger display in a lightweight casing. Bigger MacBooks are heavier MacBooks and 11-, 12-, and 13-inch screens just aren’t ideal for me full-time […]

My favorite MacBook that currently exists is the 12-inch MacBook with Retina display. I was fond of the new machine last year during my initial review, and the second-gen improves on the power and battery life. It’s fine for writing and lightweight photo and video editing. I sold my MacBook earlier this year, however, as I ultimately found the screen real estate just too limiting for comfortable daily use. 

Right through to Chance Miller, writing just a month ago:

In my eyes, this larger MacBook Air would be identical to the 13-inch model in every way, but with a larger display. It would put an emphasis on the thin-and-light form factor, taking the 13-inch thin-and-light design and scaling it to 16-inches. It wouldn’t need to be any more powerful. Just give me the MacBook Air with a 16-inch display and a larger battery to offset the impact of that larger display.

This would be the ultimate portable MacBook for me, and probably many other people. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a great machine, but weighing in at 4.8 pounds means it’s noticeable in your backpack. If you need the power that the 16-inch MacBook Pro brings, then it’s a great option. My situation, however, means that I don’t need that power, but I would like the 16-inches of screen real estate.

And readers in the comments on yesterday’s report:

“I love the sound of this! Totally hope this becomes a reality.”

“I would have bought a 16 in MacBook air if they made one. I instead bought a 16 in pro because I needed a bigger screen.”

“I have been waiting for this forever.”

“Sounds great. Finally people can get a bigger laptop screen without paying a leg and an arm for performance they don’t want or need.”

“A 15″ Air would be perfect.”

“Please, I hope this comes true. I love the form and weight of my MBA but I much prefer to work on the 16″ screen of my heavier MBP.”

“Yep, we need a 15 inch MB Air! Definitely. Non pro users also want/need a bigger screen. A no brainer!”

“100% agree. I have no need for additional ports, promotion display or any of that nonsense. Give me a basic air with 15″ and I will be super happy.”

Non-techy friends often ask me which laptop they should buy, and after asking about their usage, I’ve generally pointed them in one of three directions:

  • If budget is tight, and they don’t have an iPhone, a Chromebook
  • If they don’t need to multi-task, an iPad with keyboard case
  • Otherwise a MacBook Air – unless they are doing photo or video editing

But there are definitely those who want a larger screen without needing more power, and I’ve had to deliver the bad news that you can’t have one without the other – with the price premium that entails.

Of course, Apple would be running the risk of cannibalizing some MacBook Pro sales, but the company has always said that it’s not afraid of doing so. Indeed, Apple has for some years now pitched the iPad as a MacBook substitute for many.

I really hope this report is true: It’s going to make a lot of people very happy.

Concept image: Devan

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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