Home Tech Apple MacBook Air M3 review: the laptop to beat

Apple MacBook Air M3 review: the laptop to beat

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Apple MacBook Air M3 review: the laptop to beat

Apple’s latest MacBook Air adds more power to an already powerful package, while maintaining very long battery life and coming at a lower price than its predecessor.

The 2024 model comes with Apple’s latest M3 chip, first seen in the MacBook Pro, bringing increased performance to the company’s thinnest and lightest machine. On the outside, the laptop is identical to the 2022 model.

It now starts at £1,099 (€1,299 / $1,099 / A$1,799), a welcome price drop of £150 in the UK, although still firmly in the premium category. It sits above the M2 MacBook Air, which is still on sale for £999.

The super slim profile of the 13 inch Air makes it easy to slip into a bag and feels very well made. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Apple hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel, eschewing the often fancy foldable shapes of rivals, instead focusing on perfecting the standard laptop shape. The sleek aluminum frame, 13.6-inch LCD screen, excellent keyboard and large trackpad are all top notch. The four speakers hidden in the deck rival most, while the 1080p webcam and great microphones make video chats a breeze.

Thanks to the M3 chip, it has much more power and a much longer battery life than most compact laptops. The M3 chip is about 18% faster than the M2 and significantly faster than Intel-based Macs or PC laptops from a few years ago.

Please note that the base model only has 8 GB of memory. While it’s certainly snappy now and macOS 14 does a good job of dealing with memory limitations, 8GB will probably get a bit meager as the years go by. Doubling up to 16GB costs an extra £200 (€230/$200/A$300).

The large glass trackpad is silky smooth and precise, while the keyboard is sturdy and feels nice to type on. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Battery life regularly exceeds 16 hours between charges, including several hours of photo editing in Affinity Photo, plenty of browsing and web apps in Chrome, plus Evernote and a variety of smaller tools.

It took over two hours to fully charge the Air with the included 30W charger and MagSafe cable, reaching 50% in about an hour, but it can be quickly charged to 50% in about 30 minutes with a adapter of 70 W or higher if you have one.


  • Screen: 13.6 inch LCD screen (2560 x 1600; 224 ppi) True Tone

  • Processor: Apple M3 with eight- or ten-core GPU

  • RAM: 8, 16 or 24 GB

  • Storage: 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB SSD

  • Operating system: macOS 14 Sonoma

  • Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

  • Connectivity: WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, 2x USB 4, headphones

  • Dimensions: 215 x 304.1 x 11.3mm

  • Weight: 1.24kg


The almost retro-inspired design introduced in 2022 still looks great two years later. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The MacBook Air is made with 50% recycled materials, including aluminum, cobalt, copper, glass, gold, steel, tin, rare earths and plastic. Apple analyzes the impact of computers on the environment his report.

The computer is generally repairable and the battery can be replaced by Apple for £159. Repair specialist iFixit gave the machine five out of 10 for repairability. Apple offers trade-in and free recycling programs, including for non-Apple products.


The Apple 13 inch MacBook Air starts at £1,099 (€1,299/$1,099/A$1,799) with an 8-core GPU, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. 15in versions start at £1,299 (€1,599/$1,299/A$2,199).

By comparison, the M2 13-inch MacBook Air costs £999M3 MacBook Pro starts at £1,699the Framework Laptop 13 starts at £1,049Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 starts at £999and the Dell XPS starts at £1,198.99.


The MacBook Air remains the thin and light notebook to beat, now with more power thanks to the M3 chip.

The keyboard, trackpad and case are still best in class, with a great screen, good speakers and a solid webcam. Apple has everything you interact with every day, which makes the Air feel truly premium.

The laptop silently carries out everyday tasks and handles heavier workloads with aplomb, although it’s worth considering doubling the base memory of 8GB.

It’s the class-leading battery life that really sets the Air apart, essentially doubling the usable run time of most rivals. You simply don’t need to have a charger with you.

If you’re looking for a premium laptop for everyday use and don’t need Windows, the MacBook Air in 13-inch or 15-inch versions should be on your list.

Pros: super fast M3 chip, quiet and cool operation, extremely long battery life, great 13.6-inch screen, great keyboard, best-in-class trackpad, MagSafe, good speakers, good microphones and webcam, lots of recycled materials, Touch ID.

Cons: only two USB-C ports and no USB-A or SD card slot, no Center Stage camera or Face ID, little starting memory and expensive upgrades.

The smooth, recycled aluminum lid and body feel much more premium than some similarly priced rivals. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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