Tech reviews

Apple MacBook Air M3 review

Apple has added to all the confusion around AI PCs by pitching the new M3 MacBook Air as the “World’s Best Consumer Laptop for AI.” Yep, another computer with “AI” sprinkled on top of the messaging. But the truth is, the full picture will be revealed only when the company reveals its Gen AI strategy later this year, as CEO Tim Cook has already indicated. That means this notebook is now more of an AI-ready computer that may not give you exactly the true scale at which Apple sees how generative artificial intelligence will be embedded across its operating system or services.

So, should you get the new M3 MacBook Air just on the premise of it being a computer almost ready for the prime-time AI era, or do you want to upgrade to a Mac as a replacement for an old notebook that seems outdated both in tech and performance? I know, it won’t be an easy choice to make, but I hope my review will simplify your buying decision and help you choose the right Mac notebook for your needs. Here’s my take on the new M3 MacBook Air, which I have had for a week.

Apple M3 MacBook Air price in India: Rs 114,990 onwards.

How I use my MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air M3 Over the week I’ve had this Mac, I’ve written articles, edited copies, done some photo editing, and streamed some videos; pretty much my standard Mac usage. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

On an average day, I use my MacBook Air more than my iPhone. It’s the one device I use for everything from banking, creative work, entertainment, to online shopping. I have made a clear distinction between the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. And because of the MacBook Air’s design and smaller footprint, I use the device more often than I should be using a laptop on a regular day. During a workday that starts early in the morning, I find and distribute copies for my team members, and then I open my mail and respond to pending emails. Once I have breakfast, I open the Notes app on the Mac and write down the tasks I need to achieve. With copies from team members in my mail, I open Google Docs and edit them. I also use the Calendar app on the Mac to look for my appointments of the day. From there, my day actually starts, which involves a lot of writing and attending calls. Before I go to bed, I always listen to one or two podcasts or watch a documentary. At home, I use other devices a lot, like my iPhone for accessing WhatsApp or LinkedIn.

However, my Mac remains a central part of my digital life. In fact, at weekends, I test new apps or play games on the Mac. This has become a regular thing in the past few months.

My travel companion

Apple MacBook Air The MacBook Air M3 is silent and cool. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Its size was the biggest draw for me, and I’m sure it’s the same for most people. I travel a lot – it’s the demand of my job, which makes it even more critical that I choose the lightest notebook possible that also meets my needs. Coming from a 16-inch MacBook Pro M3 Max (review) (which I still use and have no plans to give up anytime soon), the MacBook Air felt like a much different device. Just walking and travelling with the MacBook Air made so much difference. It is damned light, and you forget it’s there in your bag. With the MacBook Pro, which is not only heavier but also has a larger footprint overall, I struggle a lot with working on it on the plane. However, the MacBook Air allows me to write and edit copies on the plane or watch a movie while waiting to catch a flight in the airport lounge.

Festive offer

So just think about it. I can now take the MacBook Air on extended trips and still have the power of macOS and processing chops while also carrying my Nintendo Switch and Boom 3 portable speaker in the backpack. It’s a reminder that the reduced weight and smaller footprint of a laptop make a huge change in the life of a journalist like mine who is always on the go. More than the weight, I’d say the fact that I can grab the MacBook Air and work anywhere, in a cafe, take it to launch events, or in a park and write a piece with utmost silence gives a fresh perspective on using a computer. I am not a desk person, and now you know why I like the MacBook Air so much.

The invisible laptop

The MacBook Air is a gorgeous laptop, and I’m pretty sure people will notice it. A lot of my colleagues asked me about the new MBA when I brought it to the office. This notebook has a character of its own. Gone is the wedge-like design that made the MacBook Air a lot thicker toward the hinge of the screen. Instead, the M3 MacBook Air (as also seen on the M2 MacBook Air) has a wedgeless design. The M3 version has more rounded edges when the screen lid is closed. The design language is introduced to give continuity across all new Apple products. On my lap, on the couch, or on the desk, the device feels right.

The starlight colour variant, the one I got for review, is not only visually appealing but is also less of a fingerprint magnet. I had zero issues with the MacBook Air. The design, fit and finish, and build quality are impressive. I am glad that Apple maintains the same design ethos across all of its products, no matter if the device commands an extremely high price or falls into the entry-level category.

The M3 MacBook Air has two Thunderbolt Ports and MagSafe on the left, and a headphone jack on the laptop’s right side. The port situation is perfect for new-age average consumers who use cloud-based services like Google Drive to save their data. I know a lot of people don’t use SD cards or HDMI ports, and Apple was right about eliminating all of the extra ports and making room for a notebook that looks and feels lightweight. However, those who regularly use a USB-A port (in fact, people still use pen drives a lot in India) may be disappointed to find no USB-A port on the MacBook Air.

Small things count

Apple MacBook Air M3 Let me warn you that you can’t upgrade this computer, as the memory and storage are directly soldered onto the M3 chip. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The M3 MacBook Air finally supports two external displays with the laptop closed. Previously, M1 and M2 Airs could only use one, and the lid had to be open. So, this may seem like a small change, but I feel it’s a significant boost, and users will appreciate the add-on, especially those who work in a hybrid setup.

Despite a compact footprint, the M3 MacBook Air still has the same Magic Keyboard, Touch ID and a set of full-height function keys as the 16-inch MacBook Pro M3 Max. The keyboard is so much joy to type on; the keys are responsive, allowing for smooth and accurate typing.

The 1080p webcam is way better than that on older MacBooks and matches the quality of the MacBook Pro. Additionally, the 13.6-inch display is an ideal size for daily writing, reading the e-paper of the Indian Express, watching movies, and even playing games. I feel the 13.6-inch display is the right size for tasks I’d like to do on a laptop, such as taking notes or spending hours on Pinterest. For those who want a bigger display, I think the 15-inch MacBook Air may be a better option. However, if you are a pro-consumer, I think the 14-inch MacBook Pro is something you should check out as it comes with a brighter MiniLED panel and 120Hz ProMotion display.

Ideally, the M3 MacBook Air will be fine for most consumers; its display is bright and vibrant and comes with 500 nits of brightness and improved P3 colour over the Intel MacBook Airs. Even the speaker quality on the MacBook Air is fantastic, given how thin this laptop is. Sure, they are not at the same level as my 16-inch MacBook Pro, which has six built-in speakers. Of course, the MacBook Pro speakers are loud and expensive as if the sound is coming from a HomePod mini. But for the size, the MacBook Air has excellent sound quality. Anyway, I use my AirPods most of the time when I am working or chilling.

Power of M3 chip

Apple MacBook Air M3 The M13Air’s premium build, blazing-fast performance, and 1080p webcam make it the obvious choice for most people.(Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

I had been testing the top-end version of the 13.6-inch M3 MacBook Air for a week. It comes with an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 512GB of SSD, and 16GB of RAM. One of the things that pleasantly surprised me about the M3 MacBook Air is the speed improvement. The 16GB of RAM, instead of 8GB, makes a difference. However, I would like to add that the change will be most visible if you are coming from an Intel-powered MacBook Air or M1 MBA. While 8GB RAM will be sufficient for most tasks people do on a computer, I personally opt for the 16GB RAM, given I need a machine that lasts for at least 5 years at a minimum. Anyway, the M3 is an excellent upgrade over the M1 and previous Intel versions, but the performance jump from M2 isn’t drastic except for a few changes. My M3 MacBook Air handled heavy tasks like multitasking with multiple tabs open or performing light video editing.

In my day-to-day use, I never felt the laptop was taxed. But again, it all depends on the tasks you perform on a computer. If you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud user, get an M3 MacBook Air. The apps run like a dream on a MacBook Air M3. Frankly, if you are someone who is an independent writer but also records and edits podcasts, I would easily recommend getting the M3 MacBook Air. This is a laptop for people who are in creative fields. Period.

Because of the excellent CPU performance, including graphical upgrades, the M3 MacBook Air supports hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing, which offers more accurate lighting, reflections, and shadows in video games. Games optimised for the Mac, such as Death Stranding: Director’s Cut, which I played, ran flawlessly on the M3 MacBook Air, though the 16-inch MacBook Pro M3 Max is better equipped to handle AAA games. I couldn’t believe I played a AAA game on a Mac, which I previously couldn’t. It’s still early days as far as gaming on Mac is concerned, but I am glad that Apple has finally acknowledged the gaming potential on a Mac after years of silence.

All charged up

Perhaps for me, a make-or-break moment for any laptop is the battery life. I am okay to settle for one less USB-C port but can’t compromise on the battery life. Thankfully, the MacBook Air M3 has the best battery life I’ve tested on a lightweight laptop in years. Although Apple claims the MacBook Air M3 laptop can last up to 18 hours, I got 15 hours and 12 minutes of juice. The only laptop that lasts even longer is my 16-inch MacBook Pro M3 Max, but that laptop is way heavier.

The ‘AI’ laptop

When Apple pitches its M3 MacBook Air as an AI laptop, one needs to take it seriously. AI is everywhere in your phone, apps, and now laptop. I still don’t fully understand what is meant by “AI” in a notebook, especially when Apple has been using AI and machine learning in its devices for many years. I think AI could define the Mac in the months to come and become a meaningful part of the experience. As of now, the aspect of AI that truly redefines the Mac is not there. I am sure Apple wants to run Generative AI right on the Mac rather than on servers, which is how ChatGPT, Gemini, and Copilot get all the power. I tried FreeChat, a Mac-based chatbot which shows the potential of On-device Gen AI but the question lingers on how well Apple optimises Gen AI and morphs it into the core Mac experience.

The verdict

Apple MacBook Air M3 Its battery life is long enough to last a full day of work. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

I have fallen in love with the M3 MacBook Air, not only because of the promise of future AI but due to its sheer portability. Its fanless design, excellent performance, long battery life, and sexy design all complete the pieces of the puzzle for a complete notebook. And Apple delivers on that front, even if one has to pay a price for it. But no one can take credit away from Apple for making the experience smooth. By experience, I don’t just mean macOS, the software that powers the Mac, but also little things like the Apple migration assistant that seamlessly transfers apps and settings from an older Mac to a new Mac.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.