A 15-inch MacBook Air would miss the point entirely — and be 4 inches too big

M2 Macbook Air Open
(Image credit: Future)

So here's the deal. Apple is once again rumored to be working on a 15-inch version of the MacBook Air. If the said device actually launches, Apple will be missing the point of the MacBook Air entirely.

And releasing a model at least four inches too big in the process. Yes, I want an 11-inch MacBook Air, and you should too.

Size matters

First, let's dive into the report. Display analyst Ross Young says that Apple is working on a 15.5-inch MacBook Air — that's even bigger! Based on his timelines, it could launch in the first half of next year.

Young says that he expects display makers to start producing the 15.5-inch panel in the first quarter of 2023, and this isn't the first time we've heard this kind of report. For example, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman had previously said that a 15-inch MacBook Air was in the works and that it would essentially be a larger version of the M2 MacBook Air that you can buy today.

For reference, the current MacBook Air has a 13.6-inch display and notch. The MacBook Pro ships in 14 and 16-inch sizes, too. A 15.5-inch MacBook Air would sit in the middle but towards the larger end of that scale.

And, for me, that's precisely the wrong place for a MacBook Air to play. It's supposed to be Apple's thinnest and lightest machine and to do that, it needs to go down in terms of screen size. Not up.

The MacBook Air once came in an 11-inch screen size, and I have one in a drawer somewhere. It was adorable and sorely missed, but the 12-inch MacBook at least replaced it. Some called it the MacBook Adorable, and with good reason. Sure, it was compromised in terms of performance because it had Intel inside and didn't have a fan. But we have Apple silicon today and no such concerns.

In short, it's time.

It's time that Apple gave us the 11-inch MacBook Air we deserve. Ship it in some funky colors and find a way to sell it for a semi-reasonable price — but an M1 in it if you like — and watch that little guy fly off the shelves.

But instead, we'll get what? A watered-down MacBook Pro that's too big to call itself a MacBook Air will surely cost a small fortune. The 13.6-inch MacBook Air is already a costly bit of kit, and regardless of whether you think that's justified, we can imagine just how expensive the bigger version will turn out to be.

Apple already knows the M2 MacBook Air is too costly; that's why the M1 version is still in the lineup after all. But put that chip into something around the size of the smallest iPad Pro, and it'll sell like crazy, I promise.

Or just put macOS on the 11-inch iPad Pro instead!

That's unlikely to happen, of course. If it were going to, it would have happened by now, and Apple would have worked so hard to make features like Stage Manager work if it was just going to slap macOS and old-fashioned windowed apps on there.

No. What we need is a small Mac. One running macOS and with a proper keyboard and trackpad. You've done it before, Apple. And without the wonder, that is Apple silicon. Just imagine what you could do with it today!

I'll take one in Space Gray, please and thank you.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.