MacBook Pro teardown confirms the new keyboard is basically just the old, good keyboard

Photo: iFixit

One of the main promises Apple is making with its new 16-inch MacBook Pro is that the keyboard — after years of easily broken butterfly-switch mechanisms — is finally switching back to the more reliable scissor-style switches it’s used in the past. And iFixit’s teardown of the new laptop confirms that promise, with Apple using scissor switches that appear to be virtually identical the ones it uses in its Magic Keyboards, first introduced in 2015.

The switches on the 16-inch MacBook Pro are so similar to the standalone keyboard, in fact, that iFixit’s report says that keys are interchangeable between the two products. The change comes after a long, multiyear debate between Apple and customers over the butterfly switches, causing Apple to revamp the mechanism multiple times to block debris and add extra strength. Apple was also forced to acknowledge that the keyboards were problematic, and offered an extended warranty program for those laptops.

Per iFixit, the new keys also have more travel when you press them (about 0.5 mm more), and the keycaps themselves are about 0.2 mm thicker compared to the much-maligned butterfly switches. The teardown also notes that the clips that attach the keycaps to the switches appear to be more reinforced to make it easier to remove or replace them down the line.

All of this is good news that confirms what many have thought since Apple first introduced the butterfly switches in 2015: there was nothing wrong with the old scissor switches in the first place. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Comments

What a world we live in, that scissor switches are the relatively reliable ones!

i do like how apple sometimes tries to push boundaries, but if it dont work, why would you use it? Its nice to see the macbook pros actually be usable again. Finally, a macbook that doesn’t break when you sneeze at it.

finally, maybe ill upgrade from my 2009 macbook, lol.

Agreed. One of two things happened here:
1. Apple knew the butterfly keyboard was bad, and refused to fix it out of hubris
2. Apple sincerely thought they could fix the butterfly keyboard and make it more reliable and better liked

Honestly, I have to believe the first – it’s been so clear that at the least, the design was polarizing (unlike the previous design) and unreliable to an unacceptable degree.

And I can’t believe that they wanted to fix it but it took 2-3 years to build and ship a new keyboard, because it is VERY similar to their old one.

Ridiculous behavior on their part.

I blame Ive, too stubborn to admit a design mistake.

This was an engineering mistake, the design team might be less to blame than this comment suggests

And you know the first part of your assertion how?

Yes, but at Apple, the design team have more clout than the engineers. Otherwise Apple would not have engineered a laptop that can’t sustain its Turbo Boost speed for more than 15 minutes before tapping out.

The design mistake was to try to make it as thin as possible at all costs (keyboard, cooling, ports, keycaps touching the screen).

I promise you any industrial designer worth their weight would not prefer the butterfly keyboard as it’s just objectively a shittier use experience.. This must have to do with cutting cost or cutting space, something Apple as a company just really like ideologically.

And not only unrealiable but also a proper non-premium feel to it. My 2012 MBP (home) just feels way better than my 2017 (work) in terms of product design build quality.

Reverting to the scissor mechanism was the right call but I’m surprised they went back to the inverted T.

Was anyone not able to adjust to the new arrow key layout? I prefer the look of it and it has never been a problem for me.

Inverted-T layout is crucial if you want to feel the arrow keys, especially with your right pinkie. It was impossible or at least super error-prone with the butterfly keyboard layout.

I absolutely hate the new arrow key (or is it the old now?). Never warmed up to them. So glad Apple went back to the inverted T.

Not happy they switched the arrow keys back. Prefer have four full size keys, but two is okay. Four miniature ones is not fun imo.

Other people hate the 2 full sized ones because it is not in a inverted T formation so it is awkward to use by touch.

The thing is, any modern laptop could have four full-sized keys in an inverted T, but someone decided that the lack of a single straight line across the bottom of the keyboard is hideous and must be eliminated. This was probably the same person who thought it was okay to combine the arrow keys with the Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys.

ThinkPads are the only laptops I can think of that still put function over form when it comes to keyboards.

There’s so much room for more keys! Why is the trackpad so huge? I still have a 2016 and I’ve never seen the benefit of the huge trackpad over the one on my 2012 MBP that it replaced.

The thinkpad keyboard is also plagued with form problems. They’re just from a completely different asthetic.

And it only took Cook years to go back to what worked years ago.

I’m sad there were so many problems with the butterfly mechanism. I like how those keyboards feel.

You’re in the "I like them" half that unfortunately doesn’t include pros.
If pro’s really liked the new keys, you would have heard requests for the next Magic Keyboard (the one that ships with iMacs) to have them.

I am a developer and use an apple keyboard everyday….

…and I’m a developer with a wired Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad at home, and the wireless Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad at the office.

Fact remains, there’s no consensus of professionals who wish for butterfly keyboards in the "pro" iMacs and especially "pro" MacBooks. TeamYoutube i.e. Rene Ritchie genuinely think they are professionals but are separated from the real world where we actually explore options outside of the fruit. Apple made this keyboard design decision to please consumers who don’t fit professional use cases, or work in those impressively minimal visually appealing workspaces. Yet another case of "thinner and lighter" marketing aimed at gullible Joe and Jill Soap.

Each to his own though, but still, the masses have spoken.

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