Around a year ago, I ditched my fancy Linux rig for a beefed-up 16" MacBook Pro and ever since, it’s been my primary machine for both personal and work stuff. I love how this machine strikes a decent balance between power and portability. However, I often joke that this chonky boy is just a pound shy of being an ENIAC1. It’s a beast of a machine when you need all that power, but certainly isn’t the most convenient contraption to lug around while flying. I work fully remote, but can’t get any work done while traveling and rarely ever need to tap into the full power this thing offers.
So I wanted to find an excuse to have separate machines for work and when I’m out and about. Sure, I could’ve gone for a 14" Pro to make it more portable and all, but here’s the deal: I absolutely detest working on anything that has a screen smaller than 15". So when Apple dropped the new 15" Air, I just knew I had to get my hands on that. Plus, I’m gonna stick with my 16" machine for work anyway, so I’m totally cool with grabbing a less powerful device that still sports a larger screen and doesn’t weigh 5 pounds.
But here’s the thing, if you’re not down with the base model and don’t mind rolling with a 14" screen, the 14" Pro is actually a better deal. It’s got better I/O, a slightly better screen, and definitely better speakers. Personally, I already have all those perks with my 16" machine, so my sights were strictly set on the aesthetics and portabitly aspects of the device. And boy, it didn’t disappoint. I went for the 16/256 config and snagged it for around 1500 USD.
This isn’t a product review, and I honestly don’t know a squat about reviewing things. It’s simply a brief piece sharing my thoughts on a product I purchased with my own money. You won’t find any affiliated links here—just my genius opinions. Also, this comes from the perspective of a person who won’t be using this as their main work machine.
I was worried that I’d have a hard time adjusting to the smaller 15" screen and wouldn’t find the keyboard as spacious. However, the good thing is that the differences were barely noticeable, and the Air still rocks a larger-than-life trackpad. The screen gets a bit less bright than its big brother, but that isn’t a problem since I mostly work indoors. For the price, the screen is terrific, and I don’t have any complaints about it. Oddly enough, I found the lack of external speaker grills aesthetically pleasing, and it still gets plenty loud; noticeably so than the 13" Air.
In terms of appearance, hands down, the Air looks much better than the Pros because of its significantly slimmer body. The 15" Air is barely half as thick and weighs half as much as the Pros. Did I mention it weighs half as much as the bigger Pro machine? Now, since there’s no fan and the whole SoC is passively cooled, the performance does take a hit when compared with an actively cooled machine. My workflow on this device includes writing stuff on VSCode, running 3-10 Docker containers, developing web applications, and the usual lightweight browsing. Turns out, the passively cooled 8-core M2 can handle all of those like a champ and some more. Also, the 16 GB memory gives me enough leeway to do serious development work every now and then should I need to.
So far, performance hasn’t been a bottleneck at all, and I can always resort to the 16" apparatus if I need to. However, for the work that I usually do, the device is holding up surprisingly well, and I knew exactly what I’d be getting when I picked the Air over the 14" Pro. One big caveat is that the I/O situation is less than ideal as it only has two USB-C ports, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a MagSafe power port—that’s it. Also, it only supports a single monitor, but that’s rarely an issue because where would I even get a monitor in an Airbnb?
Finally, I won’t even talk about the insanely good battery life, as the Airs have been the reigning champion in that department for years. The 16" MBP already has great battery life, and the Air matches that with a smaller battery due to having less powerful but more efficient internals. Overall, even considering my recency bias2, this is certainly one of—if not the most—prudent tech purchases that I made this year!