Why the MacBook Air is still stuck on the M2

Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air is placed on a desk.
Luke Larson/

Apple just did something amazing. At its “Scary Fast” launch event, Apple announced a new chip, the M3.

But instead of introducing it in the MacBook Air as it did with the M1 and M2, this event was all about the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air was inexplicably missing.

This is made even stranger considering that the M2 MacBook Air was announced a year ago at WWDC 2022. While it’s still a great laptop, it may take a full two years for it to catch up to the M3. I won’t pretend to know what Apple plans to do next with the MacBook Air, but it’s certainly interesting to see where Apple has gone this time.

But there’s an important reason for Apple’s M3 13-inch MacBook Air to be delayed: The company brought out another MacBook Air this June. 15 inch macbook air. This larger MacBook Air also had an M2 and has only been out for a few months so far. It’s too early for Apple to update the 15-inch MacBook Air already.

It would also be strange for Apple to bring the more powerful M3 chip to the 13-inch MacBook Air and leave the 15-inch model on the M2. So yes, it’s not hard to see that Apple might want to update both of these laptops at the same time in the future, in the same way it does the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro. This will make sense in the future, but right now it means the M3 chip is only for “Pro” devices.

Saving the M3 for the MacBook Pro also helps Apple differentiate its Pro line from the Air. The company also announced a new 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 only (to replace the older 13-inch MacBook Pro). And as we’ve seen before, the M3’s performance isn’t significant between the MacBook Air and Pro. But now you’ll have to wait at least several months before the MacBook Air gets competition from the M3, the easier sell between the two brands in Apple’s Mac lineup.

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