New MacBook Air and Base 13-Inch MacBook Pro Have Same Keyboard as Higher-End 2019 MacBook Pros

Good news: both the new MacBook Air and the new entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro models introduced today have the same third-generation butterfly keyboard design with an updated material as the higher-end 2019 MacBook Pro models introduced in May, we've confirmed directly.

2019 MacBook Pro keyboard teardown via iFixit

Apple previously said the new material should substantially reduce issues that some users have experienced with its butterfly keyboards in recent MacBooks, according to The Loop. Apple apologized for the issues in March, but it continues to insist that a "small percentage" of customers are affected.

Apple has not elaborated on the new material, but the repair experts at iFixit completed a teardown of the 2019 MacBook Pro and discovered a "subtle change" made to the silicone membrane covering the keyboard switches.

Whereas the membrane in the 2018 MacBook Pro is "semi-opaque" and "feels like silicone," iFixit said the cover in the 2019 model is "clearer and smooth to the touch." Based on infrared analysis, it appears the 2018 membrane was made with polyacetylene, while the 2019 covers uses polyamide, aka nylon.

Despite the new material, Apple has added all 2019 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models, including today's refreshed entry-level configuration, to its keyboard service program — hopefully out of an abundance of caution.

This means any 2019 MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, or any Mac with a butterfly keyboard that experiences keyboard issues such as sticky or inconsistently responding keys qualify for free repairs from Apple for up to four years after the original purchase date worldwide, regardless of warranty status.

With the 12-inch MacBook having been discontinued today, this means every notebook that Apple sells today features this new material for improved reliability. Whether the new material actually cuts down on the issues or not remains to be seen, as the sticky or repeating keys often take time to manifest.

Looking forward, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple plans to adopt a new scissor keyboard in future MacBooks, including a new MacBook Air later in 2019 and a new MacBook Pro in 2020. While the MacBook Air was updated today, the only change was a True Tone display, so a processor refresh could still follow this fall along with the new keyboard if Apple finally plans to ditch the butterfly mechanism.

To initiate a keyboard repair, visit the Get Support page on Apple's website to book a Genius Bar or Apple Authorized Service Provider appointment.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

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Kuo: Apple to Use New Scissor Switch Keyboard in Future MacBooks, Starting With 2019 MacBook Air Refresh

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will do away with its controversial butterfly mechanism keyboard in future MacBooks, beginning with a refreshed MacBook Air later this year.


In a report obtained by MacRumors, Kuo says Apple will instead use a new keyboard design based on scissor switches, which should provide better key travel and durability than the more failure-prone butterfly keyboard.
There have been successful developments in the new scissor keyboard. The new keyboard could improve the typing experience by offering longer key travel and durability by adopting glass fiber to reinforce the keys' structure.
Kuo believes a new scissor switch keyboard will also be used in the MacBook Pro, but not until 2020. Perhaps tellingly, Kuo made no mention of the 16-inch MacBook Pro he has previously suggested Apple will launch later this year.
We believe the partially refreshed MacBook Pro models will also adopt a new scissor keyboard in 2020; shipments of MacBook models equipped with a new scissor keyboard will grow 500–700% YoY in 2020. Though the butterfly keyboard is still thinner than the new scissor keyboard, we think most users can't tell the difference. Furthermore, the new scissor keyboard could offer a better user experience and benefit Apple's profits; therefore, we predict that the butterfly keyboard may finally disappear in the long term.
Apple's butterfly keyboards are highly controversial and have been called out as one of the company's worst design decisions due to their penchant for failure due to small particulates like crumbs or heat issues.

Following years of anecdotal complaints from customers, and a few class action lawsuits, Apple initiated a worldwide service program, offering free repairs of 2015-and-later MacBook and 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro keyboards, which are equipped with low-profile butterfly switch mechanisms.

Apple in 2018 debuted MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models that use an updated third-generation butterfly keyboard. The third-generation keyboard has a thin silicone barrier behind each key, which was put in place as an ingress-proofing measure to prevent dust from getting in the keys.

Clearly the hope was that the updated keyboard would cut down on failures, but the 2018 MacBook Pro is still prone to keyboard issues, and Apple acknowledged as much in March.

Kuo says the new replacement keyboard will be supplied solely by specialist laptop keyboard maker Sunrex rather than Wistron, which currently makes the butterfly keyboards for Apple. The analyst expects the new Sunrex keyboard will go to mass production in 2020 and will make the Taiwan-based firm Apple's most important keyboard supplier.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

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Apple Debuts New 8-Core MacBook Pro With Updated Keyboard

Apple today announced the surprise launch of new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models, which are the fastest Mac notebooks ever at the top of the line. The updated machines feature Intel's 8th and 9th-generation processors, with high-end models featuring eight cores for the first time.


According to Apple, the new MacBook Pro offers two times faster performance than a quad-core MacBook Pro and 40 percent more performance than a 6-core MacBook Pro.

Aside from new processors, the updated MacBook Pro models continue to feature the same design, despite rumors that Apple would introduce a 16 to 16.5-inch MacBook Pro in 2019. There are some internal updates, though.

Though not mentioned in the press release, The Loop confirms that the new machine has an updated keyboard. The new keyboard uses a new material that Apple says will cut down on the failure problems that users have seen.
Another change in the newest MacBook Pro computers is with the keyboard. While Apple says the vast majority of its customers are happy with the keyboard, they do take customer complaints seriously, and work to fix any issues.

To address the problem, Apple said they changed the material in the keyboard's butterfly mechanism that should substantially reduce problems that some users have seen.
The MacBook Pro continues to feature "the best Mac notebook display ever" with 500 nits of brightness, P3 wide color gamut, and True Tone technology. It is equipped with Apple's T2 security chip, Thunderbolt 3 ports, and immersive stereo speakers like prior machines.
"Whether it's college students mastering a course of study, developers building world-class apps or video editors creating feature films, we're constantly amazed at what our customers do with their MacBook Pro," said Tom Boger, Apple's senior director of Mac Product Marketing. "Now with 8-core processors for an incredible performance boost, along with its stunning Retina display, fast storage, all-day battery life and running macOS, MacBook Pro continues to be the world's best pro notebook and we can't wait to get it into our customer's hands to see what they do next."
The new MacBook Pro models are priced starting at $1,799 and $2,399, respectively, for the 13 and 15-inch models. The new machines are available today through Apple's online store and will be coming to Apple retail stores later this week. Apple has not updated the non-Touch Bar 13-inch MacBook Pro machines.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

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2018 and Newer MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Now Eligible for Apple’s Keyboard Service Program

Apple today extended its Keyboard Service Program to all MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models equipped with any generation of its butterfly mechanism keyboard, not long after apologizing over the issues.


This means 2018 MacBook Air, 2018 MacBook Pro, or just-announced 2019 MacBook Pro models that experience keyboard issues such as sticky or inconsistently responding keys now qualify for free repairs up to four years after the original purchase date worldwide, regardless of warranty status.

To address the underlying issues, Apple said it has changed the material in the 2019 MacBook Pro keyboard's butterfly mechanism to "substantially reduce problems that some users have seen," according to The Loop.

The new keyboard design on the 2019 MacBook Pro is still classified as "third generation" like the 2018 MacBook Pro and 2018 MacBook Air. Owners of the 2018 MacBook Pro and 2018 MacBook Air can have their keyboards replaced with ones that have the new materials during repair, according to The Verge.

To initiate a keyboard repair, visit the Get Support page on Apple's website to book a Genius Bar or Apple Authorized Service Provider appointment.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

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Apple Now Prioritizing MacBook Keyboard Repairs With Quoted Next-Day Turnaround Time

Apple has indicated that most MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboard repairs will be required to be completed at Apple Stores until further notice, rather than being shipped to an off-site Apple repair center, according to an internal memo shared with Apple Store employees last week and obtained by MacRumors.


Apple's memo, titled "How to support Mac customers with keyboard-related repairs in store," advises Genius Bar technicians that these keyboard repairs should be "prioritized to provide next-day turnaround time":
Most keyboard-related repairs will be required to be completed in store until further notice. Additional service parts have been shipped to stores to support the increased volume.

These repairs should be prioritized to provide next-day turnaround time. When completing the repair, have the appropriate service guide open and carefully follow all repair steps.
Apple did not provide a reason for the in-store shift for most keyboard repairs, but the company is highly regarded for its customer satisfaction, so it could be trying to speed up the process a bit to alleviate frustration.

The turnaround time for MacBook and MacBook Pro repairs shipped to Apple's off-site facilities has typically ranged between three to five business days, and sometimes longer, so next-day turnaround would be much more convenient for customers if Genius Bars can actually fulfill that ambitious timeframe.

Shortly after the 2015 MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro were released with lower-profile butterfly mechanism keyboards, complaints began to emerge about "sticky" keys causing repeating letters and other inconsistent behavior during routine use. In more severe cases, keys pop out of position or stop working altogether.


Following a few years of anecdotal complaints, and no less than three lawsuits, Apple finally initiated a worldwide service program offering free repairs of 12-inch MacBook models released between 2015 and 2017 and MacBook Pro models released in 2016 and 2017 for customers with expired warranty coverage.

That program remains in effect, but Apple has yet to extend free repairs to the still-under-warranty 2018 MacBook Pro or 2018 MacBook Air, which are still prone to keyboard issues to a lesser extent – despite both having third-generation butterfly keyboards with a silicone membrane designed to mitigate the issues.

2018 MacBook Pro keyboard with silicone membrane via iFixit

The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern recently brought some attention to the continued keyboard issues, prompting Apple to apologize:
We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry. The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.
Affected customers should visit Apple's Get Support page to book an appointment with a Genius Bar or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, who are also authorized to complete free repairs under Apple's service program.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, MacBook

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