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MacBook Air M3 13-inch vs MacBook Air M2 13-inch: Worth upgrading?

The latest version of the iconic MacBook Air has arrived. We’ve thoroughly tested and fully reviewed the new 13-inch MacBook Air M3 and 13-inch MacBook Air M2. Here’s how they compare.

Apple dropped the new M3 chip towards the end of last year and a new Air wasn’t part of that pack, so we’ve had to wait a little longer. Now, it’s been out a little while and we’ve spent time putting it through its paces. 

A key point of comparison is, of course, the previous iteration. So is this new MacBook Air M3 13-inch worth a buy over the existing MacBook Air M2 13-inch? We’ve listed all of the key differences we’ve learned from our reviews below so you can make up your mind. 

Price and Availablity

The first thing to take note is that the new 13-inch MacBook Air is more expensive than its predecessor. The MacBook Air M3 13-inch has a starting price of £1099/$1099.

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This is the same price point that the M2-powered MacBook Air originally launched with, but Apple has since slashed its price down to a more affordable £999/$999. 


There’s little to report on the design front when comparing the new M3 Air and the older M2 Air. Next to nothing has changed. The 13-inch Air still weighs 1.24kg, and that still provides a pleasing premium heft while still being super portable.

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The four colours are still Silver, Space Grey, Starlight and Midnight. The latter is where the slight change comes in. Midnight was criticised for its uber-fingerprint magnet characteristics. Now, Apple says there is a new coating to help with this issue.

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Apple reckons the new model is better for the environment though, despite the design seeming identical on the outside. It says the 13-inch MacBook Air M3 is the very first device from the company to be made with 50% recycled materials. This is made up of 100% recycled aluminium in the enclosure, 100% recycled rare earth elements in all the magnets and (for the first time) 100% recycled copper in the main logic board.

Screen and Sound

As with the design, the MacBook Air M3 13-inch display and audio setup remains the same as the M2 model. You still get a bright LCD with a strong 2560 x 1664 resolution, all in a 13.6-inch size.

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While sound remains top-notch, stunningly full, loud and accurate for audio from such a trim machine. It’s a little disappointing there wasn’t an upgrade here but things like ProMotion and Mini LED are reserved for the MacBook Pro.


Again, nothing has changed when it comes to the wider specifications on offer with the MacBook Air M3 compared with the M2. You can spec it up with the same amounts of unified memory and SSD storage. 

The biggest change is the new Apple M3 chip itself but, even that, still offers the same 8-core CPU option and up to 10-core GPU option as the previous device.

However, in our testing, you can see above that the change does have an impact on performance. Geekbench 6 results show just under a 20 percent increase across single and multi-core workloads. In the Cinebench R213 rendering test, we saw just under a 15% increase in the multi core result.

The MacBook Air M3 remains a stunningly strong machine for photo editing, light video editing and general daily tasks, just as the M2 was. Both doing this without a fan is hugely impressive too. The uplift in performance is enough to be attractive but, with few new features enabled because of it, the difference between this machines isn’t stark.

Battery Life

For the battery life, Apple touts the same up to 18 hours of battery life specification across the new M3 Air and the older M2 Air. Broken down, Apple says that is 15 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video playback.

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Despite this, the M3 actually performed stronger in our own test, looping a video using the Apple TV app and running the battery down. We managed 18 hours in that test, which is up 2 hours from what we experienced with the MacBook Air M2 13-inch.

Final Verdict

The Apple MacBook Air M3 13-inch is another stunning laptop that’ll be a tremendous buy for those looking to do some light creative work or intensive productivity tasking. It brings the same style and portability as the previous model too.

The performance boost is a nice bump up but isn’t significant enough to warrant an upgrade from the M2 Air if you already have it. Further, if you don’t have either, then the M2 Air is extremely attractive at its newly reduced price, especially if you can find offers at third party retailers. However, there’s always the argument of buying the latest and greatest for longevity’s sake, if you can afford it.

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