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.

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Apple Launches New Backlight Service Program for 2016 13-Inch MacBook Pro Display to Address ‘Flexgate’ Issues

Alongside the launch of new MacBook Pro models, Apple today introduced a new Backlight Service Program for the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

According to Apple, a "very small percentage" of 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro displays can exhibit vertical bright areas along the bottom of the screen or a backlight that malfunctions entirely.


Apple will repair affected devices, which includes machines sold between October 2016 and February 2018, for free. Eligible models are listed below:

  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)


No other MacBook Pro models are included in the repair program at this time.

There have been ongoing complaints from MacBook Pro owners about uneven backlighting, though reports have covered machines beyond the 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro. There has been speculation that the problem is caused by a delicate and easy-to-break flex cable.

Apple says that those with affected machines should find an Apple Authorized Service Provider, make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store, or contact Apple Support to arrange a mail-in repair.

The Backlight Service Program will be available to MacBook Pro owners for four years after the first retail sale of the unit, or two years from May 21, 2019, whichever is longer. According to internal Apple repair documents, displays with a confirmed backlight issue are eligible for LCD replacement at no charge, including displays that have accidental damage.

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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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Apple to Adopt Mini LED Display Tech in Future Macs and iPads, Starting With 31.6-inch iMac to Launch Later This Year

Apple will switch to mini LED backlighting for a raft of hardware coming over the next three years including a 31.6-inch iMac to be launched in the second or third quarter of 2019, reports DigiTimes this morning.

Apple will adopt mini LED backlighting for a 31.6-inch iMac to be launched in the second or third quarter of 2019, a 10- to 12-inch iPad to be unveiled in fourth-quarter 2020 or first-quarter 2021, and a 15- to 17-inch MacBook to be introduced in first-half 2021, according to a analyst Kuo Ming-chi at TF International Securities.
Today's DigiTimes report cites comments made by well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo to local media, a machine translation of which we covered on Monday. That report, which carried a warning of possible mistranslation, referred to a 31.6-inch 6K standalone display, but DigiTimes refers multiple times to an iMac with the same dimensions.

The report goes on to note that Apple is settling on mini LED technology for its wide color gamut, high contrast ratio, high dynamic range and local dimming.
The backlight unit (BLU) to be used in the 31.6-inch iMac will be made of about 500 LED chips of 600 microns in size, with Japan-based Nichia to supply the LEDs, Kuo said.

Strictly speaking, this is a quasi-mini LED BLU because the chip size is much larger than those of standard mini LEDs, according to industry sources. However, the use of such a BLU will give opportunities for the supply chain to improve mini LED production in cost and yield rate, the sources noted.
More than 10,000 mini LEDs will be needed for the "10- to 12-inch iPad," according to the report, and these LEDs will be made by Epistar. Meanwhile, LCD panels will come from LG Display and BLUs by Radiant Opto-Electronics, and all three companies will form parts of the supply chain for the mini LED-backlit MacBook.

Related Roundups: iMac, MacBook Pro

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Kuo Revises New 15-17″ MacBook Pro Launch to First Half of 2021, 31″ 6K Display Still Expected in Mid 2019

A few months ago, well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlined his expectations for new Apple products in 2019, including a 16 to 16.5-inch MacBook Pro, 31.6-inch 6K standalone display, and a 10.2-inch iPad. In a follow-up research note, however, Kuo has revised some of his details and timing.


Kuo now predicts that Apple will release a new 15- to 17-inch MacBook Pro in the first half of 2021 and a new 10- to 12-inch iPad between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. He still expects the 31.6-inch 6K display to launch in either the second or third quarter of this year.

Economic Daily News chart based on Kuo note

Kuo's latest research note was first covered in Chinese by the Economic Daily News and MoneyDJ, so we're relying on a machine translation, and it is possible some details have been mistranslated. We'll update this article if necessary once we receive a first-hand copy of the note in English.

Kuo's original research note said the new MacBook Pro will feature an "all-new design." He also said Apple may add a 32GB RAM option to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. As for the 6K display, Kuo said it will have "outstanding picture quality thanks to its adoption of a Mini LED-like backlight design."

Kuo's original research note also called for several other new Apple products in 2019, including a trio of new iPhones with larger batteries and two-way charging, a new iPod touch, a new iPad mini, new AirPods, and the AirPower. Some of those products launched last month, while the AirPower was canceled.

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Apple Apologizes Over ‘Small Number’ of Users Who Continue to Have Issues With Third-Generation MacBook Keyboards

Last year, Apple introduced new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with a redesigned third-generation butterfly keyboard that was meant to address issues with sticking and non-responsive keys. However, as noted by The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern, some customers are continuing to experience these issues.

Third-generation butterfly keyboard on 2018 MacBook Pro via iFixit

In a statement, an Apple spokesperson acknowledged the issues and apologized:
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.
Apple added that affected customers should contact the company for support.

Unfortunately, while Apple initiated a service program offering free repairs of affected 2015-2017 MacBook and 2016-2017 MacBook Pro keyboards, the 2018 MacBook Pro and 2018 MacBook Air do not qualify at this time.

Stern wrote her column without using the letters E or R as a clever way of illustrating the problem — there are toggle switches to turn each letter back on. Humorously, there are also toggle switches to read the article with double E's or double T's, as repeating letters are one symptom of the sticky keys.


In an internal document obtained by MacRumors last year, Apple said the third-generation keyboard has a silicone membrane under the keycaps to "prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism." However, the membrane has only reduced the keyboard issues instead of eliminating them entirely.

Apple has not admitted this reasoning publicly, instead saying that the third-generation keyboard delivers a "quieter" typing experience.

Stern concludes with a plea to Apple to "stop prioritizing thinness over usability."

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Apple Lowers Price of MacBook Pro’s High-End SSD Upgrade Options

Alongside a refresh of the iMac and new Radeon Pro Vega graphics options for the iMac Pro, Apple today quietly lowered the price of some of the storage upgrade options for the MacBook Pro.

2TB and 4TB SSD upgrade options for 13 and 15-inch machines are now more affordable, with Apple dropping prices as much as $400.


Upgrading to 2TB of storage on the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models is now $200 cheaper, while upgrading to 4TB on the 15-inch MacBook Pro is $400 cheaper.

SSD upgrade pricing for the MacBook Pro models is below:

Entry level 15-inch MacBook Pro:

  • 512GB SSD - +$200 (No change)

  • 1TB SSD - +$600 (No change)

  • 2TB SSD - +$1,200 ($200 off)

  • 4TB SSD - +$3,000 ($400 off)


Higher-end 15-inch MacBook Pro:

  • 1TB SSD - +$400 (No change)

  • 2TB SSD - +$1,000 ($200 off)

  • 4TB SSD - +$2,800 ($400 off)


Entry level 13-inch MacBook Pro:

  • 512GB SSD - +$200 (No change)

  • 1TB SSD - +$600 (No change)

  • 2TB SSD - +$1,200 ($200 off)


Higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro:

  • 1TB SSD - +$400 (No change)

  • 2TB SSD - +$1,000 ($200 off)


It's not unusual for Apple to adjust storage prices for its products, especially at the higher end, as prices fluctuate and come down over time after a machine has been released. Apple has changed storage prices for various Macs multiple times over the years.

Apple's MacBook Pro models are not designed to have the SSD upgraded after purchase as the storage is soldered to the motherboard, so the price drop is nice to see for those who want to purchase more storage to futureproof their machines.

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Apple Adds 15-Inch MacBook Pro Models With Radeon Pro Vega Graphics to Refurbished Store

Apple's online refurbished store is now offering discounted versions of the 15-inch MacBook Pro models with Radeon Pro Vega graphics, allowing the higher-end machines to be purchased at a discount.

Apple announced plans to add AMD's Radeon Pro Vega graphics to its MacBook Pro lineup in October when the new MacBook Air models were announced. MacBook Pro models with the new options were able to be purchased in November.


Only the higher-end 15-inch MacBook Pro can be upgraded with the Radeon Pro Vega 16 (+$250) or Radeon Pro Vega 20 (+$350), so purchased new, machines with the new graphics options are priced starting at $3,049.

Apple has a wide selection of MacBook Pro models with Radeon Pro Vega 16 and 20 graphics available. One of the most affordable options, which is a Core i9 model with the Radeon Pro Vega 16, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD, is priced at $2,849, a $500 discount.

A base level Core i7 model with 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and the Radeon Pro Vega 20 is even cheaper at $2,679, a $470 discount.

There are a number of MacBook Pro configurations available with different RAM, SSD, and processor upgrades, all of which are equipped with the new graphics cards. With the wide range of configurations available, people looking for a discounted MacBook Pro with the Radeon Pro Vega should be able to find what they're seeking with today's update.

Apple even has a maxed out MacBook Pro with Core i9 processor, 32GB RAM, Radeon Pro Vega 20, and 4TB SSD for $5,989, a discount of $1,060.

Apple's refurbished stock does fluctuate, however, so available stock of refurbished MacBook Pro models could sell out quickly. Apple refreshes the refurbished store on a regular basis, and it can be handy to keep an eye on a tool like Refurb Tracker to find specific configurations.

All of the available MacBook Pro models are listed on Apple's refurbished site.

Purchasing a refurbished MacBook Pro from Apple is a good way to get a like-new device at a lower price point. All of Apple's refurbished products are tested, certified, cleaned, and guaranteed with a one-year warranty that can be extended with AppleCare+.

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Apple May Have Quietly Addressed ‘Flexgate’ in 2018 MacBook Pros

iFixit reports that Apple may have already taken steps to reduce the likelihood of 2018 MacBook Pro users experiencing display lighting issues dubbed Flexgate. Affected machines could see uneven lighting that looks like a "stage light" effect with the display potentially failing completely over time.


iFixit was tipped off by MacRumors forum user Olivia88 posting in our Flexgate megathread that their 2018 13" MacBook Pro appeared to have a longer cable than previous models. iFixit confirmed this finding:
Since we were just wrapping up writing the repair manual for the 2018 model anyway, we checked inside our 2018 15” MacBook Pro again to measure its cable against its 2016 predecessor—and found the 2018 cable was, in fact, a full 2mm longer. Since this change appears in both our 15” model and Olivia88’s 13” model, it’s plausible this change is present in multiple, if not all, 2018 MacBook Pros.
iFixit speculates that this could prevent some of the wear and tear that had previously caused the failure though they weren't able to say for certain.

Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge the issue, and our Flexgate guide covers what your options are if you are affected by this issue.

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