M3 MacBook Air (2024): Release date, features, specs, and more

M3 MacBook Air Everything you need to know
(Image credit: Future / Apple)

After wowing us with the M3 chip in 2023 and souping up the MacBook Pro lineup with its latest silicon, Apple has finally brought us a more affordable, more portable alternative with the new M3 MacBook Air. 

Unveiled March 4 with a March 8 release date, the new M3 MacBook Air is available in two sizes, 13 and 15 inches. Aside from its new chip, changes over the old models are scant, as this is very much a new processor upgrade that will not be teasing M2 owners to upgrade. That being said, both still promise to be potent machines with great all-day battery life and a beloved form factor first introduced in 2022. Unlike the previous generation, Apple has unveiled both the 15-inch and 13-inch models simultaneously. Last year, the 15-inch model was unveiled a full year after the 13-inch model. 

So what's new and what is there to know about the new M3 MacBook Air?

Apple M3 MacBook Air: The headlines

  • What is it? An updated version of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air with M3 chips
  • Release date: March 8
  • New features: M3 Apple silicon chip, Wi-Fi 6E, improved audio quality for voice calls

M3 MacBook Air: Release date

M3 MacBook Air

(Image credit: Apple)

Announced without much fanfare by way of a press release on March 4, the M3 MacBook Air's release date is March 8. 

M3 MacBook Air: Processor

M3 MacBook Air

(Image credit: Apple)

As noted, the biggest change to the MacBook Air for 2024 is the new M3 processor, first unveiled by Apple in 2023. The M3 Apple silicon chip is built on the 3-nanometer process, the first Apple chip to feature the new architecture. In short, this means the chips are much denser, packing in more transistors into a smaller space. This means that they are faster at the same power draw as M2, but also much more efficient at the same speeds as the old ones. 

Like M2, the M3 chip has an architecture made up of performance and efficiency cores. Apple says the M3's efficiency cores are 30 percent faster than M2's, while its performance cores are 15 percent faster. The earliest M3 MacBook Air benchmarks indicate an overall performance boost of around 20%. Notable improvements in the M3 chip include a Neural Engine that is 60 percent faster than the M1 version, rendering that's 2.5 times faster, and 5 billion more transistors than M2. 

The M3 chip also supports hardware-accelerated ray-tracing for the first time on Apple silicon, delivering excellent graphics performance with more dynamic and realistic lighting, shadows, and reflections. 

The aforementioned Neural Engine powers machine learning on macOS Sonoma, but this time around Apple was keen to highlight that the MacBook Air is the "world's best consumer laptop for AI." This is a deliberate, intentional change in language to signify Apple's pivot towards some of the broader trends emerging in computing, notably LLMs like ChatGPT and beyond. While we aren't expecting any of Apple's own AI efforts to emerge before WWDC 2024 and macOS 15, the company did highlight some of the great third-party apps already making use of AI and machine learning on macOS, notably Pixelmator Pro, Microsoft 365, Canva, and Adobe Firefly. 

M3 MacBook Air: Size and weight

The M3 MacBook Air is the same size and weight as the M2 model it replaces. That means the 13-inch and 15-inch models weigh 2.7 and 3.3 pounds respectively. The former is 0.44 inches high, 11.97 inches wide, and 8.46 inches deep. Meanwhile the 15-inch model is ever-so-slightly thicker at 0.45 inches, 13.40 inches wide, and 9.35 inches deep. 

M3 MacBook Air: Display

M3 MacBook Air Everything you need to know

(Image credit: Apple)

The M3 MacBook Air has a Liquid Retina LED display with IPS. It supports 500 nits of brightness, 1 billion colors, wide color (P3), and True Tone technology. The smaller model is a 13.6-inch display with 2560-by-1664 native resolution at 224 pixels per inch while the larger one is a 15.3-inch display with 2880-by-1864 native resolution at 224 pixels per inch. 

M3 MacBook Air: Memory

The M3 MacBook Air comes with 8GB of Unified Memory as standard, which can be upgraded to either 16GB or 24GB respectively. As a rule, each step in the configuration is $200, so 16GB of RAM is a $200 option, while 25GB is a $400 option. 

M3 MacBook Air: Storage

Along with 8GB of Unified Memory, the M3 MacBook Air comes with 256GB of SSD storage as standard. You can get 512GB for $200, 1TB for $400, or 2TB for $800. 

M3 MacBook Air: Audio and camera

The M3 MacBook Air has the same 1080p FaceTime HD camera as the previous model, as well as the same four-speaker sound system in the 13-inch model. Apple has dropped support for "wide stereo sound" offered in the M2 model, but both the 13 and 15-inch models support Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos through the built-in speakers. The 15-inch model has a six-speaker sound system with force-cancelling woofers. 

The M3 MacBook Air also retains the headphone jack, but adds new Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum microphone modes for improved voice quality in audio and video calls.  

M3 MacBook Air: Ports and Connectivity

M3 MacBook Air Everything you need to know

(Image credit: Apple)

Just like the last model, the M3 MacBook Air has a headphone jack, MagSafe 3 charging port, and two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports supporting data transfers of up to 40GB/s. While there's no change in the physical ports here, the new M3 MacBook Air supports two external monitors (with the lid closed) compared to the M2 MacBook Air's one external monitor capability. Apple is also going to bring this to the M3 MacBook Pro. The M3 MacBook Air supports one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz, including the Pro Display XDR. Close the lid, and you can add a second external display with up to 5K resolution at 60Hz, such as the Apple Studio Display. 

The M3 MacBook Air has Bluetooth 5.3 support for connecting all your favorite peripherals, and Wi-Fi 6E. Compared to the M2 model's Wi-Fi 6, this will mean much faster and more reliable Wi-Fi speeds, as well as lower latency if you have a compatible router. 

M3 MacBook Air: Price

M3 MacBook Air

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's M3 MacBook range has a pricing structure to match the previous M2 model. That means the 13-inch version starts at $1,099, while the 15-inch model is $1,299. 

The 13-inch base model features 8GB of Unified Memory and 256GB of SSD storage, as well as the 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU version of the M3 chip. For $1,299 you can add more storage (512GB) and get a beefier 10-core GPU. The 16GB memory model starts at $1,499. 

The $1,299 15-inch model ships as standard with the aforementioned 10-core GPU version of the M3 chip, 8GB of Unified Memory, and 256GB of SSD storage. The 512GB model is $1,499 and the 16GB memory version starts at $1,699. 

M3 MacBook Air: Colors

M3 MacBook Air

(Image credit: Apple)

M3 MacBook Airs match previous years colors, with the following options available from launch:

  • Midnight
  • Starlight
  • Space Gray
  • Silver

Much like the Space Black M3 MacBook Pro, Apple says the midnight version of its MacBook Air "features a breakthrough anodization seal to reduce fingerprints." 

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

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