MacBooks may ditch terrible ‘butterfly’ keyboards starting later this year
Many words have been spilled about the controversial keyboards in Apple’s MacBooks. Most people find the keyboards which use a “butterfly” mechanism to achieve their razor-thin profiles to be too flat, too noisy, and too unreliable.
With Chief Design Officer Jony Ive heading towards the exit, it appears Apple’s going to do a u-turn by returning back to the “scissor” mechanism keyboards with better key travel.
In his latest note to investors (via MacRumors), top Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple will introduce a new keyboard with scissor mechanism in a new 16-inch MacBook Pro slated for launch in the fourth quarter of this year.
Additionally, Kuo says he believes all of Apple’s MacBooks in 2020 will switch to the new keyboards as well. “The refresh versions of other MacBook models in 2020 will change to adopt the scissor mechanism keyboard, too,” Kuo said.
Kuo previously said the new keyboard wouldn’t debut in a new MacBook Pro until 2020, but it would appear they’re charging forward to quickly put the disappointing keyboards behind them.
Despite iterating on it year after year, Apple has repeatedly failed to ensure its butterfly keyboards are reliable long term.
Apple first added a rubber membrane under each key to improve travel, reduce clackiness, and potentially prevent debris from getting lodged in the butterfly mechanism, which lead keys to fail.
But after a class action lawsuit was filed last year and users continued to report busted keyboards, Apple said it changed the material on its latest MacBook keyboards — like the one in the 2019 MacBook Air — to improve reliability.
Apple also started a keyboard service program for which every MacBook with a butterfly keyboard is automatically enrolled in to receive free repair should it break.
Dumping its butterfly keyboards for the scissor-style keyboards could potentially restore the MacBook’s reputation, which has taken a beating since Apple introduced the flat keyboard in 2015 on the now-discontinued 12-inch MacBook.
Scissor-style keyboards will likely also require a compromise in thinness. Since they’re thicker than butterfly keys, future MacBooks could be a little thicker. I think I speak for almost everyone when I say I’ll gladly trade a probably-imperceptible few millimeters of extra thickness for not having to worry about the keyboard breaking down.