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Daily driving the 15 inch Macbook Air M2 for 2 months: a review

My experience with the 15” Macbook Air M2.
Sid Metcalfe

Cartesian Mathematics Foundation


August 8, 2023


As I depend heavily on my laptop, I am always on the lookout for the perfect blend of power and portability. When Apple announced the 15 inch MacBook Air M2, I was intrigued by its promise of a larger screen coupled with the Air’s legendary thinness. After two months of using it as my primary machine, below are some of my insights.



Click on photos to enlarge them:

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First Impressions and Design Aesthetics

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From the moment I unboxed the 15” MacBook Air M2, I was struck by its sleek, minimalist design. It has that quintessential Apple flair—a perfect balance between elegance and functionality. As someone who appreciates both aesthetics and practicality, I found the MacBook Air’s silver finish to be both timeless and versatile. It seamlessly melds into any environment, from a coffee shop table to a professional workspace, without feeling out of place or overly flashy.

Holding the device in my hands, there’s a palpable sense of refinement. It’s reassuringly solid, yet surprisingly light for its size. The thinness of the laptop is particularly noteworthy—Apple has continually pushed the boundaries of slimness, and this iteration is no exception. The 15” model retains the svelte profile that the Air lineup is known for, despite housing a considerably larger display.

Speaking of the display, the screen real estate is a dream come true. There’s a stark difference in the amount of content you can have on the screen without feeling cramped. The clarity and the color fidelity are impressive, providing vivid and sharp imagery that enhances both work and leisure activities. Whether I’m editing a document, watching a video, or reviewing design work, the visuals are engaging and immersive.

As someone who often spends hours at a stretch typing, the keyboard on the MacBook Air M2 impresses me with its comfortable layout and tactile feedback. There seems to be just the right amount of travel to each keypress, a far cry from the Butterfly mechanism era, which many users found to be less than ideal. It’s these thoughtful touches that make the MacBook Air feel tailored to everyday needs.

The inclusion of Touch ID also enhances the user experience, adding convenience and a layer of security with a simple touch. It’s fast, reliable, and something I’ve quickly grown to rely on multiple times throughout the day—be it for unlocking the MacBook or authorizing downloads and purchases.

For those concerned about the potential awkwardness brought on by the notch, I find it to be a non-issue in day-to-day use. Its presence is almost forgotten, blending into the UI of macOS where it smartly houses the webcam while allowing for a more expansive screen area. Contrary to initial skepticism, the notch doesn’t interfere with content or workflow, which is a testament to Apple’s design consideration.

Another point worth mentioning is the MagSafe charging connector. It’s a delightful return to a beloved charging solution, offering a quick magnetic attachment and enhancing peace of mind—no more worrying about accidently tripping over the cable and sending the laptop flying. However, I do share the sentiment that integrating Ethernet into the MagSafe, much like the iMac’s power adapter, would have been a clever addition for those seeking a hardwired network connection.

Connectivity on the MacBook Air is straightforward with its USB4/Thunderbolt 3 ports. For my workflow, this suffices greatly, though the absence of an SD card slot is noted. Given the MacBook Air’s positioning as a portable workstation for creatives and professionals alike, I can’t help but feel that the SD card slot would have hearkened back to the original MacBook Air’s ethos of being ready for anything at a moment’s notice.

In conclusion, the 15” MacBook Air M2 is not merely a larger version of its predecessors—it’s an evolved device that marries substantial screen size with portability. It’s a testament to Apple’s commitment to pushing the envelope, providing a laptop that’s equally at home in a professional studio as it is on a casual sofa. Each design choice appears to have been made with deliberateness, making the MacBook Air a genuine pleasure to use daily.

Performance and Daily Use

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When it comes to day-to-day tasks, the 15” MacBook Air M2 has become an extension of my workspace that I didn’t realize I needed. I’ve been particularly impressed with the seamless way it manages everything from browsing multiple tabs, managing my workflow on Trello, to editing documents in Google Docs. The 8GB of RAM on my base model might seem paltry on paper, but in practice, it’s proven to be more than enough for the multitasking demands of my daily routine.

Switching between applications is a breeze, with macOS handling the operations without any discernible lag. I often have Safari, Mail, Slack, and a lightweight IDE open at the same time, and I’ve yet to experience any stutter or slowdown. The integration with iCloud, furthermore, keeps all my files in sync across devices, which is fantastic for when I need to switch to my iPhone or iPad. For more detailed insights, check out Lifelong Windows user: My thoughts on switching to MacOS (2023).

I must admit, I was a little skeptical about the no-fan architecture, but even after hours of usage, the performance hasn’t taken a hit, and the device is noticeably cooler compared to previous generations I’ve owned. This points to the efficiency of the M2 chip, which Apple has engineered remarkably well.

Battery life, a crucial aspect for any portable device, is another area where this laptop doesn’t just meet but exceeds expectations. Even with a mix of tasks that include streaming music and light photo editing, I can get through a full workday without reaching for the charger. The AlDente app, while a fantastic tool, has become somewhat redundant as macOS already effectively manages battery longevity.

Content consumption on the 15” MacBook Air has been nothing short of a joy. The display, while lacking 120Hz ProMotion, is still incredibly sharp, rendering text crisply and making reading e-books and PDFs a comfortable experience. The color accuracy and brightness levels are perfect for casual photo editing, which I venture into from time to time using Adobe Lightroom.

As a writer, I often rely on writing applications like Ulysses; the M2 MacBook Air handles these apps with finesse, showing no signs of struggle even when I have multiple documents and research notes open simultaneously. The keyboard is responsive, comfortable for long typing sessions, and hasn’t given me any trouble — a significant improvement from the butterfly keyboards of yesteryears.

The absence of an SD card slot is a notable omission for some, but I’ve adapted using external readers and largely depend on cloud storage solutions like Dropbox for transferring and backing up files. The available Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports offer high-speed data transfer and are sufficiently versatile for connecting peripherals and displays when needed.

For a device that’s pegged as Apple’s entry-level notebook, the 15” MacBook Air M2 feels nothing like it. It handles my professional and personal workload admirably, and I haven’t once felt like I’m working on a ‘budget’ device. The MacBook Air with M2 proves that you don’t need the Pro-level horsepower for an incredibly solid, quiet, and pleasant computing experience. This is, without a doubt, the most satisfying MacBook I’ve owned to date.

Comparisons and Upgradability Considerations

As someone deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, I’ve experienced my share of MacBook upgrades and shifts in preferences - each with its promises and trade-offs. Initially, the leap from the 13” MacBook Pro line to the 15” MacBook Air M2 might raise questions about portability and power. However, my journey and corresponding considerations have led me to conclude that not only is the new MacBook Air a delightful middle ground, but it’s also a testament to Apple’s nuanced understanding of its user base.

I took notice that Apple strategically positioned the 15” MacBook Air as a bridge between the ultra-portable and the powerhouse Pro models. In doing so, it piqued my interest - could this be the Goldilocks solution for my needs? Allowing for a large enough screen to stave off the squinting yet light enough not to dread the thought of a day away from my desk?

Upon unboxing, the merit of the extra screen real estate became apparent. For context, my workflow typically includes a medley of writing code, managing spreadsheets, and jumping into design tools like Sketch. With the 15-inch display, the improved split-screen functionality allowed for a level of multitasking that felt more at home, almost akin to a desktop experience. I didn’t anticipate such a significant difference from the 13” model, but it has indeed improved my productivity, reducing the constant switching between full-screen apps that I had begrudgingly become accustomed to.

Now, on upgradability - I invested in a 24GB RAM configuration. Some might argue it’s overzealous for an ‘Air’ model, especially at this price point. But anyone who’s weathered the rapid evolution of software and user demands knows that headroom is a valuable commodity. Opting for a higher RAM spec was less about addressing current needs and more about future-proofing. Not needing another upgrade for a decent span is a form of convenience that merely seemed prudent, especially considering Apple’s closed hardware ecosystem where upgradability after purchase isn’t an option. By contrast, my previous 13” models often felt the pinch of memory constraints sooner than I would have liked.

Price is always a sensitive topic with Apple products. An M2 MacBook Air, especially at higher configurations, can brush uncomfortably close to MacBook Pro territory in cost. But Apple isn’t just selling components - they’re selling an experience, and on that front, the 15” MacBook Air M2 doesn’t disappoint. The perceptive balance of portability with a non-compromised larger display justifies the price in my opinion, especially for those who yearn for space but dread bulk.

Portability remains a key concern, and it’s true the 15” Air doesn’t match its smaller sibling’s almost ethereal presence in a bag. Still, carrying it around hasn’t been the gym workout scenario I envisioned - it’s manageable and entirely justifiable for the screen size payoff.

The integration of the M2 chip offers ample power while sipping battery life with grace, leaving me to simply enjoy the device rather than manage its survival throughout the day. The fact that it achieves this level of performance without fans - again, elevates this laptop to something special.

In closing - albeit informally - my experience with the 15” MacBook Air M2 has been exceedingly positive. Apple’s careful attention to balance, user experience, and design shines through with this offering. While it’s not the right choice for everyone, for users like me who value screen space, a comfortable keyboard, exceptional battery life, and portable form factor – it’s a formidable option that reignites excitement for what a laptop can be.

Final Thoughts and Longevity Expectations

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Having spent a considerable amount of time with the 15” MacBook Air M2, I find myself reflecting on its place within my daily life and the longevity I expect from such a device. It’s become clear that this Air isn’t merely an upscaled version of its predecessors but rather a new beast in its own right, striking a fine balance between performance and portability.

The larger screen is a revelation for productivity. It’s like having the expansive workspace of a desktop monitor without actually being tethered to a desk. For someone who values efficient multitasking and the ability to have multiple windows open side by side, the extra screen real estate is a game-changer. It allows for less clutter and more clarity when I’m working, whether it’s browsing through research papers or juggling multiple coding projects on GitHub.

I was initially concerned about the potential trade-off in portability when transitioning to a larger screen. However, my fears were unfounded. The thinness and lightweight design have meant that sliding the Air into my bag and taking it to a café or library feels as seamless as ever. It’s a testament to Apple’s design philosophy where they manage to pack more into less without compromising the aesthetics or build quality.

My expectations for this laptop’s longevity are high. History has shown us that Apple’s hardware optimization for macOS tends to ensure a longer shelf life for their machines. Coupled with software updates that frequently bring new features and performance enhancements, I’m confident that this MacBook Air will serve me well into the late 2020s.

Battery life remains an area where I think Apple has set the bar. Even with demanding tasks, it’s impressive how I’m able to get through most of my day on a single charge. When I do need to plug in, the MagSafe connector offers an easy and secure power connection, though I share the sentiment that an integrated Ethernet in the MagSafe, similar to the iMac solution, would have been a welcome addition for those yearning for a hardwired internet connection.

On the topic of fingerprint resistance, I’ll provide a word of advice to prospective buyers: go for lighter colors like the silver or starlight. They mitigate the visibility of smudges, which is a real consideration for maintaining that pristine out-of-the-box look without relentless wiping.

The absence of a fan, while retaining remarkable performance, ensures a silent working environment that can sometimes feel almost surreal. To power through tasks without the interruption of whirring fans has made both work and leisure all the more enjoyable.

In summary, the 15” MacBook Air is an exceptional laptop that caters to both power users and everyday consumers. It’s capable enough to handle professional workloads while maintaining the simplicity that attracts casual users. I anticipate it will age gracefully, both in terms of physical endurance and relevance in software capability, making it a sound investment. The day it finally outlives its usefulness will likely be a day far in the future and will mark the end of what I consider to be a golden era for the MacBook Air lineup.