Apple’s long-awaited 15-inch MacBook Air is reportedly set for a debut at WWDC next month. Ahead of that release, I’ve been pondering how this big-screen MacBook Air might fit in Apple’s current Mac lineup, and I realized there’s one potential (if not likely) limitation that could be a dealbreaker for many buyers…
That one limitation is: the ability to use multiple external displays. That is, the ability to dock your MacBook Air and use it to power two external displays at your desk. This is a known limitation of the current 13-inch MacBook Air, and it’s a limitation that frustrates many of those users.
As a refresher, the current M2 MacBook Air supports one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60hHz. This, of course, is in addition to the built-in display. There are some workarounds out there to enable multi-display support, but those workarounds aren’t nearly as reliable as Apple’s native support would be.
This is actually one of the few regressions from the last Intel-powered MacBook Air that was released in 2018. That version of the MacBook Air supported up to two external displays with 4K resolution.
Will the 15-inch MacBook Air solve this problem?
Whether or not Apple aims to fix this limitation when it releases the 15-inch MacBook Air could depend on which Apple Silicon chip it uses. Rumors here are conflicted, with some sources suggesting it will be powered by the same M2 chip that the current-generation MacBook Air uses. On the other hand, 9to5Mac has heard from a previously-reliable source that the 15-inch MacBook Air will use the M3 chip, but more recent reporting has said Apple was forced to scrap this plan.
If the 15-inch MacBook Air happens to be powered by the M3 chip, support for two external displays would ideally be something toward the top of Apple’s to-do list. As of right now, however, we haven’t heard anything about that just yet. It’s also looking more likely every day that the 15-inch MacBook Pro will use the M2 chip, with Apple not planning on M3 Macs until later this year.
If the 15-inch MacBook Air is powered by an M2 chip and is able to support two external displays, current M2 MacBook Air owners might feel slighted. This outcome, however, seems unlikely if it’s a legitimate technical limitation of the M2 chip that prevents Apple from supporting two external displays.
And of course, there’s also the possibility that Apple will indefinitely limit the MacBook Air to supporting just one external display, regardless of the chip inside. After all, this does create an additional reason for users to spring for the more expensive MacBook Pro. There are already questions about how the 15-inch MacBook Air may eat into some 16-inch MacBook Air sales.
Even if you don’t use two external displays with your Mac, it’s a setup that’s more common than you might think. It’s especially common in enterprise environments, where employers will oftentimes provide employees with two lower-resolution displays rather than one high-resolution display.
The 15-inch MacBook Air is expected to be released at WWDC in June, so we’re less than a month away from the official announcement. Are you planning to buy it? Let us know in the comments.
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