Apple has long positioned itself as a seller of premium electronics, and it commands a correspondingly high price for its phones, laptops, and desktops because of it. The MacBook Pro line has won fans, but many of those fans began questioning their allegiance to the brand a few years ago when Apple released laptops with the “butterfly” keyboard mechanism. After years of selling fragile, unpleasant keyboards, Apple has finally changed course with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. iFixIt has a teardown of the new MacBook keyboard that shows a completely different mechanism that should (we hope) alleviate all the issues that have plagued Apple’s computers in recent years.
Rumors began percolating several months ago that Apple was finally ready to throw in the towel on the butterfly switch, which has caused the company no end of trouble since its introduction. The idea behind the butterfly switch was to retain a tactile typing experience while reducing travel, and thus making keyboards thinner. It succeeded at those things, but the travel was so low that a speck of dust could render a key inoperable it if got under the keycap.
Apple machines being Apple machines, the repair for a damaged butterfly switch was to completely remove the top of the case and replace the keyboard. That was a pricey repair, so Apple started offering an extended warranty on MacBook keyboards. Apple attempted to fix the butterfly switch with a membrane in the 2018 revision that could repel some debris. However, users still had issues because it only takes one bit of dust to break the keyboard.
With the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple has moved to a more traditional scissor mechanism. In fact, the keycaps from the old Magic Keyboard fit on the new MacBook Pro. The new switch consists of two plastic pieces that pivot in the middle. The keys have about 0.5mm more travel, which is significant for a keyboard. The keycaps themselves are 0.2mm thicker this time around.
The new MacBook Pro hasn’t been around long enough for us to know for certain, but it looks like this will be the first MacBook Pro in years that won’t be taken out by a speck of dust. You will, of course, pay handsomely for the opportunity to get a MacBook with a functional keyboard. The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,400 with 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a 9th-gen Core i7 CPU.
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