15-inch MacBook Air teardown reveals few changes from 13-inch model

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited June 2023

Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air is similar to its 13-inch counterpart in more than name, with a teardown showing there to be relatively few internal differences between the models.

A disassembled 13-inch MacBook Air and a 15-inch MacBook Air [iFixit/YouTube]
A disassembled 13-inch MacBook Air and a 15-inch MacBook Air [iFixit/YouTube]



The 15-inch MacBook Air is best described as an upscaled 13-inch MacBook Air, with it adding a few minor tweaks to the preexisting design. A look inside the chassis of the new model demonstrates that the similarities go beyond the surface, with the insides being pretty similar as well.

The teardown by iFixit published to YouTube on Friday took apart the 15-inch MacBook Air, and revealed it is taken apart the same way as the 13-inch model, using identical screws and clips. After taking off the initial layer, the hardware is visibly similar to the 13-inch, except the 15-inch has a slightly different speaker setup, since the larger model has more.

Disassembly is a "miserable" experience, with the components assembled and overlapping each other in a "maze" that makes battery removal and taking out the logic board a tough challenge. That logic board also has "pretty much the same stuff" as the 13-inch version.

As part of the teardown, Apple's continued reliance of adhesive strips to hold the battery in place is thought to be unnecessary, given the sheer amount of components that have to be removed beforehand that also holds the cells in place.



That battery is a 66.5Wh construction using a large cell section flanked by four smaller cells. It is believed this arrangement is used to allow the fast-charging function to work at full capacity, since multiple cells are charged simultaneously.

The 15-inch MacBook Air scores a 3 out of 10 on iFixit's "repairability" scale. Apple can earn another two points for parts and manual supply, but due to its "unreliable release schedule," the points are being withheld from the score for the moment.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 1,025member
    Relatively few internal differences between the 13" and 15" models?  We were told that developing the 15" model involved all sorts of major engineering challenges.  
    nubuswilliamlondongrandact73
  • Reply 2 of 11
    This is definitely going to be my next laptop. I have an m2 Mac mini for my heavy duty work mainly Logic Pro and boring stuff like MS Office so the 15” MacBook Air is perfect for my remote work. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 11
    XedXed Posts: 2,471member
    williamh said:
    Relatively few internal differences between the 13" and 15" models?  We were told that developing the 15" model involved all sorts of major engineering challenges.  
    There are certainly challenges, but to what are you referring?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 11
    nubusnubus Posts: 304member
    Xed said:
    williamh said:
    Relatively few internal differences between the 13" and 15" models?  We were told that developing the 15" model involved all sorts of major engineering challenges.  
    There are certainly challenges, but to what are you referring?
    Apple did explain in an interview about the creation of MBA 15" (https://www.tomsguide.com/news/macbook-air-15-inch-exclusive-how-apple-made-the-worlds-thinnest-15-inch-laptop): 2 extra speakers and new adhesive behind the display took 12 months extra...
  • Reply 5 of 11
    XedXed Posts: 2,471member
    nubus said:
    Xed said:
    williamh said:
    Relatively few internal differences between the 13" and 15" models?  We were told that developing the 15" model involved all sorts of major engineering challenges.  
    There are certainly challenges, but to what are you referring?
    Apple did explain in an interview about the creation of MBA 15" (https://www.tomsguide.com/news/macbook-air-15-inch-exclusive-how-apple-made-the-worlds-thinnest-15-inch-laptop): 2 extra speakers and new adhesive behind the display took 12 months extra...
    Despite your snark and an article that doesn't cover any real detail, they did state that,"It's a lot more difficult of an engineering challenge than most people might appreciate. Picking up this system by the corner and just holding the product, we make sure that it's stiff and durable and really presents that level of Apple quality that everybody comes to expect from us." You may not appreciate that, but I do. There's a reason why it's thicker, just as why the 17" PowerBook was such a different beast compared to its 13" and 15" brethren. It's not just slapping some bigger versions of components together.
    williamlondonStrangeDayspscooter63Alex1N
  • Reply 6 of 11
    nubusnubus Posts: 304member
    Xed said:
    nubus said:
    Apple did explain in an interview about the creation of MBA 15" (https://www.tomsguide.com/news/macbook-air-15-inch-exclusive-how-apple-made-the-worlds-thinnest-15-inch-laptop): 2 extra speakers and new adhesive behind the display took 12 months extra...
    Despite your snark and an article that doesn't cover any real detail, they did state that,"It's a lot more difficult of an engineering challenge than most people might appreciate. Picking up this system by the corner and just holding the product, we make sure that it's stiff and durable and really presents that level of Apple quality that everybody comes to expect from us." You may not appreciate that, 
    I certainly do appreciate that. Don't want another butterfly keyboard. But... the 15" metal TiBook happened 22 years ago and there have been plenty of 15" unibody etc. models with metal after that from Apple and other vendors. If Apple had prepared for a 15" it would have been delivered at the same time as the 13". I see the late arrival of MBA 15" M2 simply as the response from Apple to a product mix that didn't match market expectations as indicated by Mac sales.

    Letting the marketing department send the hardware VP on a tour to explain that adhesives caused 1 year extra development for a company like Apple... I don't need any of that. The late arrival of MBA 15 is not an Apple Maps moment. Let us celebrate that we have a great new Mac priced to sell from a more reasonable Apple. Next stop is to fix the iPad Air pricing.
    williamhomasouAlex1N
  • Reply 7 of 11
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 765member
    Oh geez… what  would a new Mac model release be without another crank post from the IFixit cult. Will they ever give it a friggin’ rest? Look, I get that you’re a bunch of sad old dudes who will always remember your high school A/V Club as the highlight of your lives, but nobody wants a highly repairable, build-it-yourself Tandy computer anymore. 
    StrangeDaysomasoupscooter63williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 11
    XedXed Posts: 2,471member
    charlesn said:
    Oh geez… what  would a new Mac model release be without another crank post from the IFixit cult. Will they ever give it a friggin’ rest? Look, I get that you’re a bunch of sad old dudes who will always remember your high school A/V Club as the highlight of your lives, but nobody wants a highly repairable, build-it-yourself Tandy computer anymore. 
    If that was the case then they wouldn't be in business but since they still sell parts and tools.

    I've purchased many components and tools from them over the years. I'm very happy with their excellent, step-by-step repair guides that they create for free, and knowing what kind of repairability score each repair has gives me an idea of the time and difficulty I'll be facing. Why you're offended by that is odd to me.

    I have a Mac mini that will soon be getting more RAM. Without step-by-step instructions I wouldn't have had the confidence to go in blindly due to much needs to be taken apart. So why should iFixit give it a rest with their guides? Oh yeah, "nobody wants" to repair or upgrade devices themselves any longer because you don't.
    edited June 2023 ITGUYINSDmuthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 9 of 11
    ITGUYINSDITGUYINSD Posts: 509member
    charlesn said:
    Oh geez… what  would a new Mac model release be without another crank post from the IFixit cult. Will they ever give it a friggin’ rest? Look, I get that you’re a bunch of sad old dudes who will always remember your high school A/V Club as the highlight of your lives, but nobody wants a highly repairable, build-it-yourself Tandy computer anymore. 
    Curious...did you take a scientific poll to come to that conclusion or are you projecting your own opinions on everyone else?
    muthuk_vanalingamgrandact73Alex1N
  • Reply 10 of 11
    omasouomasou Posts: 541member
    Xed said:
    nubus said:
    Xed said:
    williamh said:
    Relatively few internal differences between the 13" and 15" models?  We were told that developing the 15" model involved all sorts of major engineering challenges.  
    There are certainly challenges, but to what are you referring?
    Apple did explain in an interview about the creation of MBA 15" (https://www.tomsguide.com/news/macbook-air-15-inch-exclusive-how-apple-made-the-worlds-thinnest-15-inch-laptop): 2 extra speakers and new adhesive behind the display took 12 months extra...
    Despite your snark and an article that doesn't cover any real detail, they did state that,"It's a lot more difficult of an engineering challenge than most people might appreciate. Picking up this system by the corner and just holding the product, we make sure that it's stiff and durable and really presents that level of Apple quality that everybody comes to expect from us." You may not appreciate that, but I do. There's a reason why it's thicker, just as why the 17" PowerBook was such a different beast compared to its 13" and 15" brethren. It's not just slapping some bigger versions of components together.

    Yes, there is some challenge to designing a "thinner" 15" laptop case but the rest of it is from the parts bins. The logic board in the 13", 15", Mac Mini and iMac are or should be near identical. Leaving only the addition of a larger battery.

    Let's not make it sound like more than it is.
    edited June 2023 williamhwilliamlondonpscooter63
  • Reply 11 of 11
    XedXed Posts: 2,471member
    omasou said:
    Xed said:
    nubus said:
    Xed said:
    williamh said:
    Relatively few internal differences between the 13" and 15" models?  We were told that developing the 15" model involved all sorts of major engineering challenges.  
    There are certainly challenges, but to what are you referring?
    Apple did explain in an interview about the creation of MBA 15" (https://www.tomsguide.com/news/macbook-air-15-inch-exclusive-how-apple-made-the-worlds-thinnest-15-inch-laptop): 2 extra speakers and new adhesive behind the display took 12 months extra...
    Despite your snark and an article that doesn't cover any real detail, they did state that,"It's a lot more difficult of an engineering challenge than most people might appreciate. Picking up this system by the corner and just holding the product, we make sure that it's stiff and durable and really presents that level of Apple quality that everybody comes to expect from us." You may not appreciate that, but I do. There's a reason why it's thicker, just as why the 17" PowerBook was such a different beast compared to its 13" and 15" brethren. It's not just slapping some bigger versions of components together.
    Yes, there is some challenge to designing a "thinner" 15" laptop case but the rest of it is from the parts bins. The logic board in the 13", 15", Mac Mini and iMac are or should be near identical. Leaving only the addition of a larger battery.

    Let's not make it sound like more than it is.
    They aren't identical machines. From the casing, to the battery, to logic board, to trackpad, and so on... these are unique parts for this machine, no matter how much yuo want to claim they simply pulled the 13" MBA logic board and trackpad from a bin and slapped it into the 15" MBA.

    You also have no idea how many engineers Apple had working on all these components to make the 15" MBA. I know in the past Apple has pulled people off other teams to focus on secret projects so perhaps that's a variable you should consider now that we know Apple Vision Pro has been announced. 

    Personally, I'm glad that Apple put in the extra effort to make the 15" as close to the 13" in the design language and didn't end up going with the easier path of simply building a one-off design that conformed to the larger size and weight like with the aforementioned 17" PowerBook.

    Let's not make it sound like you could've done better.
    edited June 2023 williamlondonAlex1N
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