Apple Reveals Its Powerful New M3 MacBook Airs Without Any Fanfare

Apple Reveals Its Powerful New M3 MacBook Airs Without Any Fanfare

Apple has just revealed the all-new MacBook Air M3 series, including a 15-inch and 13-inch model (the smaller 12-inch model will likely come at a later date), with a claim that its new Airs are the ‘best consumer laptop for AI’.

It was tipped earlier this week that Apple wouldn’t be holding a ‘Spring’ (for us Aussies, Autumn) event for its new products, and that’s why the new MacBooks feel a little out of the blue. We were expecting an announcement alongside some new iPad and a range of USB-C support Magic Keyboards and Pencils, but Apple is probably holding back on these so that its new laptops get some…. Air time.

As for the laptops in question, the new MacBook Airs boast the powerful new M3 chip, which first debuted last year in the company’s new MacBook Pros. The chip coming to the Airs will be the least powerful of the three-model M3 series, which includes the standard M3, the M3 Pro, and the M3 Max.

Image: Apple

M3 MacBook Air specs and performance

On paper, the new M3 chip, compared to the M2 chip that shipped in 2023’s 15-inch MacBook Air, the on-paper specs are all the same. An 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU 8-core on the cheapest 13-inch variant), up to 24GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of storage (both those last ones can be tailored up and down depending on your needs and budget).

As far as performance goes, Apple claims that the new Airs run videogame No Man’s Sky up to 60 per cent faster than on the M1 chip. Using AI features with Photomator’s Super Resolution tool is supposedly 40 per cent faster than on a device with the M1 chip, and working with Excel is apparently 35 per cent faster.

“Compared to a PC laptop with an Intel Core i7 processor, MacBook Air delivers up to 2x faster performance, up to 50 per cent faster web browsing, and up to 40 per cent longer battery life,” Apple claims.

Apple’s claimed (up to) 18 hours of battery life (tested in Apple TV streaming, with 15 hours of wireless web use) is unchanged for these models, though Apple claims the M3 Macbook Airs are capable of hardware-accelerated ray tracing. The new models also come with “enhanced voice clarity in audio and video calls”, along with voice isolation and wide spectrum microphone modes. There’s also WiFi 6E onboard, a slight upgrade from WiFi 6 on the previous MacBook Air.

Image: Apple

The side ports are unchanged, too – two Thunderbolt ports on the side and a MagSafe charging port, with a 35W USB-C power adapter in the box, and fast charging capability with a 70W charger.

M3 MacBook Air AI features

Apple claims that it’s made the “world’s best consumer laptop for AI” with the new M3 MacBook Airs. From Apple’s press release:

“With the transition to Apple silicon, every Mac is a great platform for AI. M3 includes a faster and more efficient 16-core Neural Engine, along with accelerators in the CPU and GPU to boost on-device machine learning, making MacBook Air the world’s best consumer laptop for AI. Leveraging this incredible AI performance, macOS delivers intelligent features that enhance productivity and creativity, so users can enable powerful camera features, real-time speech to text, translation, text predictions, visual understanding, accessibility features, and much more.”

Apple has been pretty slow on the AI hype train as of late, and the way this reads, it looks like the company is finally beginning to warm up to the trend. There’s nothing as AI laser-focused as, say, Microsoft’s AI key on Windows keyboards, or Microsoft’s Copilot built into Windows 11, but it does look like Apple’s taking it slow and steady.

M3 MacBook Air pricing and availability

The 15-inch M3 MacBook Air starts at $2,199, though can cost as much as $3,999 with 24GB RAM and 2TB SSD storage. Meanwhile, the new 13-inch M3 MacBook Air starts at $1,799, but can cost as much as $3,599 with 24GB and 2TB SSD storage. Both laptops are available in ‘Midnight’, ‘Starlight’, ‘Space Grey’, and ‘Silver’, and will be available from March 8. You can preorder online now.

Image: Apple

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