15″ MacBook Air Teardown: Bigger and Better? Maybe Not.

Further blurring the Mac notebook lineup the 15″ M2 MacBook Air is part Pro, part Air, and part disappointment.

When I think “Air” I think of the tiny, envelope sized delicacy of the first edition, but I also think of the most replaceable battery of its time. When the Retina was taking the MacBook world by storm, and stubbornly gluing down its batteries, the Air’s simple battery replacement procedure was a breath of fresh… well, you get it. Today’s standard Air is a bit more complicated, and with the advent of the larger “semi-pro” 15″ Air that trend not only continues, but deepens.

To Pro or Not to Pro

This bulked up beauty is a mere .2 mm thicker than the 13″, but weighs a nearly Pro-sized 22% more. With no active cooling this machine is clearly not intended to compete with the Pro line, but at that weight, “Air” seems more misnomer than anything.

Repair Nightmare

The Air takes more after a parfait than the Airs of yore. Components are layered on top of each other, leaving the best for the very last. Unfortunately for the 15″ Air, the battery is one of the very last components to come out. The rear case, speakers, heat shield, and logic board must all come out before you can get to it. That’s not even mentioning the dozens of screws, brackets and easy-to-damage connectors along the way.

Li-ion batteries will always wear out, no matter if they’re 66.5 W and 25% bigger than their predecessors, that’s just chemistry. Not even the additional cells—probably to enable faster charging—can prevent eventual degradation. That means batteries should be the most accessible and easily replaced component in any battery-powered tech.

Air Power—Not the Failed One

To be honest, stretch-release adhesive after a full disassembly almost feels like an insult.

The 15″ Air has a 26% more pixels compared to the 13″ Air, and gains an equivalent amount of battery power. Screens are hungry, but are they that hungry? Our guess is that the increase in battery size more than covers for the bigger screen, but marketing wants the specs to line up with its Airy siblings, and not compete too much with the Pro lineup.

Speaking Loud and Clear

It’s not all hot air in here, the new 6-speaker system is actually very clever. As a point of fact there are only two speaker units, one for each side, but each has three internal drivers. Two of the drivers are opposed, composing the force-canceling woofer, which maximizes volume while minimizing unwanted vibrations. The third is actually 90º off axis, driving sound straight through the Air’s grilles, very cute stuff.

Putting the “Air” in Repair?

3 out of 10 on the repairability scale

All in all the 15″ MacBook Air earns a mediocre 3/10 on our repairability scale. It’s worth noting that much of that is due to the lack of potential failure points like the fan—if that strategy pays off in the long run will be a story worth following. It’s also worth noting that Apple could earn two full points on the Air’s score if they release parts and repair manuals. They have yet to commit to a regular release schedule—last year’s 13″ M2 Air is still unsupported for example—so we’re not excited about advancing them the points.