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15″ MacBook Air vs 13″ MacBook Pro: Which One Wins?

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15″ MacBook Air vs 13″ MacBook Pro: Which One Wins?

Key Points

  • The 15″ MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pro have more similarities than differences, but the Air comes out ahead with a larger and better display, stronger connectivity, and more color options.
  • The 15″ MacBook Air features a 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display, an M2 chip that is 12 times faster than previous models, and a six-speaker sound system.
  • The 13″ MacBook Pro, powered by the same M2 chip, excels at intense tasks with up to 24GB of unified memory and faster processing speeds, making it great for content creators and gamers.

It’s the greatest debate in MacBook history: Air or Pro? Which one are you going with? As Apple laptops become increasingly advanced with each new release, this debate only grows more difficult to navigate. Take the latest releases, for instance: the 15″ MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pro. Which laptop type should you choose? Because of all the similarities between the two, the answer is a lot more complicated than simply choosing the cheaper one or the one with the newer chipset. We’re going to have to dig deep into the finer details in order to find the winner.

15” MacBook Air vs 13” MacBook Pro: Side-by-Side Comparison

Aspect15” MacBook Air13” MacBook Pro
Latest Model ReleasedJune 2023June 2022
Apple ChipM2M2
Display Size15.3 inches13.3 inches
Display TypeLiquid Retina displayLED-backlit Retina display with IPS technology
CPU/GPU8-core/10-core8-core/10-core
Unified Memory24 GB (Max)24 GB (Max)
Storage2 TB (Max)2 TB (Max)
Battery Life18 hours20 hours
Touch FeaturesTouch IDTouch Bar, Touch ID
Weight3.3 pounds3 pounds
Camera Quality1080p HD720p HD
BluetoothBluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.0
PortsThunderbolt (2)
USB (4)
Thunderbolt (2)
USB (4)
ColorsStarlight, Midnight, Space Gray, SilverSpace Gray, Silver
Starting Price$1,299$1,299
MacBook screen being closed.
Two new Apple MacBook models go head-to-head in six key areas including display and battery.

15” MacBook Air vs 13” MacBook Pro: What’s the Difference?

As you can see from the chart above, the 15″ MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pro have far more similarities than differences. CPU and GPU cores, Apple chipset, unified memory and storage, number of ports… even the price is the same. Yet, these are obviously not the same two products. One’s an Air, the other’s a Pro. But what truly sets them apart beyond names and release dates? Let’s take a look at six key differences between the two below. Examined up close, we should begin to notice a winner.

Display

First and foremost, there’s a difference of a couple of inches between these MacBook Air and MacBook Pro screens. The former is 15.3 inches, while the latter is 13.3 inches (when measured diagonally). Beyond physical size, the displays also have different technologies behind the screen. The Air uses Liquid Retina display technology, while the Pro uses LED-backlit Retina display with IPS technology. That makes the Air’s screen both bigger and better than the Pro’s screen.

Size and Weight

Second, let’s examine the size and weight of the 15” MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro. The Air is less than half an inch high, just shy of 13.5 inches wide, and over nine inches long. It weighs 3.3 pounds. Comparatively, the Pro measures over half an inch high, almost 12 inches wide, and around 8.5 inches long. It weighs just three pounds. Because the Air has the larger screen of the two, it actually manages to be bigger and heavier than the Pro. This is somewhat abnormal, as the Air is typically lighter than the Pro.

Battery Life

Now, how does the battery life compare in the 15” MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro? The Air offers up to 18 hours of battery life in all, with true times varying depending on what you’re using the laptop for. Simple tasks might give you more time, while complex ones might give you less. On the other hand, the Pro delivers up to 20 hours of battery life. Because it’s the “professional” model, the Pro may know how to optimize its battery better than the Air. With that being said, professional tasks may drain the Pro faster than everyday use of the Air.

USB-C charger being plugged into a laptop
The 15″ MacBook Air vs 13″ MacBook Pro debate includes a slight difference in battery life.

FaceTime Camera

The quality of the FaceTime camera might not be the sole reason you choose one MacBook over the other, but it’s nevertheless a key difference that exists between the two models. The 15″ MacBook Air gives you a 1080p HD camera at the center of the top of the screen. In contrast, the 13″ MacBook Pro has a 720p HD camera in the same place. This improved quality makes sense, as the Air is the newer release of the two. It’s surprising to see Apple continuing to use a 720p HD camera in the 2020s, as most have moved on to 1080p quality or above.

Connectivity

Next, let’s consider the kind of connectivity offered by the 15” MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro. Both MacBook models come with two Thunderbolt ports and four USB ports. Beyond this, though, the Air is equipped with Bluetooth 5.3 while the Pro is stuck with Bluetooth 5.0. Thankfully, though, both the Air and the Pro come with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and USB-C charging. It seems the advantage lies in the Air’s superior Bluetooth. This 5.3 connectivity means more reliable connections at greater ranges compared to Bluetooth 5.0.

Special Features

Lastly, what about special features? What kind of special bells and whistles are included in the 15” MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro? The Air comes in four colors and has a Six-speaker sound system with force-canceling woofers. Alternatively, the Pro comes in just two colors and includes the controversial Touch Bar at the top of the keyboard. It also includes a studio-quality three-microphone setup with a higher signal-to-noise ratio than the Air. Unless you care a lot about aesthetics, the Pro looks like the winner in this particular regard.

15” MacBook Air vs 13” MacBook Pro: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Both the 15” MacBook Air and the 13” MacBook Pro are equipped with Apple’s new M2 chip, offering enhanced performance and capabilities over previous Air and Pro laptop models.
  • The M2 chip is part of the second generation of Apple’s M-series chips and builds upon the features of the M1 chip. It boasts an 8-core CPU, an advanced 10-core GPU, 100GB/s unified memory bandwidth, and supports up to 24GB of fast unified memory. It also includes a next-gen media engine for improved video workflows.
  • The new MacBook Air has a thinner design, a larger 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display with thin borders, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, and a six-speaker sound system. It offers up to 18 hours of battery life and is available in four different colors.
  • The new Pro is similarly thinner, boasting a 13.3 Retina display, up to 20 hours of battery life, a Touch Bar, and the ever-powerful M2 chip. Its smaller screen size than the 15” Air actually makes it lighter and more compact than the rival model mentioned.
  • Both the new Air and Pro models prioritize environmental sustainability, using recycled materials and striving for carbon neutrality. They utilize recycled rare earth elements and aluminum, both part of Apple’s goal for a net-zero climate impact by 2030 across its operations and products.
A close up of the keyboard and touchpad of two silver laptop computers.
The 13″ MacBook Pro has a Touch Bar, while the 15″ MacBook Air does not.

15” MacBook Air Features

Apple unveiled the 15” MacBook Air in June 2023. Its press release calls it the world’s best laptop of its size. While this is surely a sales-minded exaggeration to some degree, Apple’s not too far off from the bullseye here: It really is a powerful product. This new MacBook Air boasts a 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display with more vibrant colors and sharper contrast than any Apple laptop had seen before. Plus, it’s powered by the M2 chip — an ultra-capable chip that’s a dozen times faster than previous MacBook Airs. 

The M2 chip delivers smooth multitasking and improved graphics with an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine. Its battery life is similarly exceptional, offering up to 18 hours of usage on a single charge. According to Apple, that’s 50% more than comparable PCs on the market. Even with its 15” display, the new Air remains incredibly thin. It measures less than half an inch thick and weighs just over three pounds. Plus, its fanless design only adds to its sleekness (not to mention silence).

As far as bonus features go, the 15” Air features a six-speaker sound system capable of delivering immersive audio experiences and supporting Dolby Atmos. Its 1080p HD camera provides users with clear videos and photos. Its MagSafe charging system and macOS Ventura are added bonuses as well. You can also have some fun with its four color options: Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, and Silver. Its high starting price reflects the supercharged nature of this new Air. But how does all this compare to the 13” MacBook Pro?

Latest Model
Apple 2023 MacBook Air Laptop with M2 chip
$1,129.25
  • 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display
  • 8GB of unified memory
  • 512GB SSD
  • 1080p HD webcam
  • Touch ID
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/03/2024 05:40 am GMT

13” MacBook Pro Features

Last summer, Apple released the other component of the 15” MacBook Air vs 13” MacBook Pro debate. This new MacBook Pro is powered by the same M2 chip at the heart of the 15” Air. However, the Pro was lucky enough to be the debut product for the chip. Because this M2 chip was designed to bring more power and performance to Apple laptops, the Pro is quite capable of intense tasks. It includes the same CPU and GPU specs as the Air, delivering similarly speedy processing and graphics capabilities over models with the M1 chip.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro also comes with up to 24GB of fast unified memory, allowing for smoother multitasking and handling of larger workloads. The ProRes acceleration feature enhances video workflows, enabling hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding of ProRes videos. This means the laptop can handle playing back more streams of 4K and 8K videos than before — making it great for content creators and content streamers alike. This goes to show much better the Pro is at handling more intense tasks than the Air.

Major endeavors — like editing complex timelines in Final Cut Pro — are nearly 40% faster compared to the previous generation of Pros. Working with RAW images can be up to 3.4x faster over non-Apple silicon Pros, too. Even graphics-heavy tasks like gaming are nearly 40% faster. Through all this, the Pro delivers up to 20 hours of battery life. Weighing in at just three pounds and priced at $1,299 to start, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more capable laptop for its size and price. Its only real rival? That 15″ MacBook Air we’ve been talking so much about.

High-Performance
Apple 2022 MacBook Pro Laptop with M2
$1,136.58
  • Up to 24 GB of RAM
  • 13-inch retina display
  • Active cooling
  • Can drive displays up to 8K resolution
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/03/2024 08:47 am GMT

15” MacBook Air vs 13” MacBook Pro: Pros and Cons

Pros of 15” MacBook AirCons of 15” MacBook Air
Equipped with Apple M2 chipCosts more than $1,000
1080p HD FaceTime cameraShorter battery life than rival Pro
Larger screen than the Pro being discussedNo M2 Pro or M2 Max chipset
Touch ID for added securityHeavier than the Pro mentioned
Pros of 13” MacBook ProCons of 13” MacBook Pro
Debut of the Apple M2 chipSmaller screen than the rival Air
20 hours of battery lifeOnly has a 720p HD FaceTime camera
Includes both Touch ID and Touch BarPriced at over $1,000
Better suited for intense tasksMore lightweight than the Air mentioned

15” MacBook Air vs 13” MacBook Pro: Which Is Best?

In this wide-ranging debate between the 15” MacBook Air vs 13” MacBook Pro, our scales lean toward the Air. Though both laptops have a lot of overlap with one another, there are a few key areas where the Air comes out ahead of the Pro. It has a larger display, a better camera, stronger connectivity, and more colors to choose from. However, the Pro is still an incredible laptop in its own right (with longer battery life and a lighter weight to boot). But, in the end, we’re crowning the 15” MacBook Air victorious.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which MacBook is better for everyday tasks?

Of the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, the Air is better for daily tasks like web browsing, email, word processing, and multimedia consumption. Its reliable performance and superior portability make it more suitable for carting around over the traditionally larger, heavier Pro. If you only plan to use your Apple laptop for casual tasks, you probably won’t need a Pro.

What is battery life like on a MacBook?

The total battery life on a MacBook depends on whether you have an Air or a Pro. While both product lines offer exceptional battery life compared to rival brands, the Air offers around 18 hours while the Pro delivers around 20. However, these are just averages. True performance times will come down to what kind of tasks you’re running, how bright your screen and keyboard are, and so on.

Can you play computer games on a MacBook?

In the past, neither the MacBook Air nor MacBook Pro could handle newer video games. However, with the advent of the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, it’s looking more and more likely that the MacBook Pro can handle online gaming. With that being said, be sure to check your laptop’s specs before buying any games. Hardcore gamers may be better suited to another laptop from a rival brand.

How is the MacBook Pro different from the MacBook Air?

Generally speaking, the MacBook Pro offers more power and performance compared to the MacBook Air. This makes it better suited for demanding tasks done by professionals (hence the name). The Pro also includes additional features such as the Touch Bar and better cooling technology to keep the laptop from overheating.

What happened to the base model MacBook?

As of this writing, Apple only offers the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. The company has re-introduced and discontinued the MacBook base model several times throughout its history, as it never performs as well as the high-end or lightweight versions of the laptop. Currently, it is discontinued. However, this could always change in the future.

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