According to iFixit, Apple has made two changes to the new keyboards on the just-announced, spec-bumped MacBook Pro. The changes seem to come to a new membrane that may be more effective at shedding dirt and a new dome switch that can be more resilient. And although it is far too early to say whether those changes will make a difference in improving the reliability of the keyboard, which is now clear, Apple is still only modifying the design rather than reviewing it.
The iFixit disassembly was needed to find out what Apple's design changes were because the company actually refused to explain them, except they told reporters that it was a & # 39; new material & # 39; had used. So the disassembly started and the results are subtle enough that it is special scientific equipment (and will need more in the future) to determine the difference.
The first of iFixit's discoveries is that Apple is actually using a new material for the polymer membrane in the keyboard. It is essentially just old nylon now, according to an FITR analysis. Apple started last year with the use of a polymer membrane in the keyboard. The company insisted that it was there to reduce noise, despite patent applications and service documents confirming that they were intended to protect against dirt.
The newer material is "clearer and feels smooth," says iFixit. although why The change could help, in all likelihood. Maybe it's better not to leave any dust under it? At the moment only Apple knows for sure.
The second change is even more mysterious. On Apple & # 39; s butterfly keyboard, a metal dome switch is located under each key. It is the thing that makes the electrical contact that registers a keystroke. Apple seems to be making small changes to these switches in the new keyboard.
iFixit says, "The difference in surface finish from the 2018 version (left) to 2019 (right) indicates that Apple may be using a revised heat treatment or an alloy, or both." However, a full analysis of what has been changed is needed. much more sophisticated equipment than iFixit currently has. Again, it is a question that Apple could answer at any time.
What seems obvious is that these metal switches are probably the culprits for many (though probably not all) failed keyboard disorders that people have experienced. They are just small and delicate – they work by popping and pushing back "like a tiny bit block lid or Snapple cap, "Notes iFixit. It's hard to imagine how & # 39; the world's smallest Snapple lid deforms under the kind of stress that all laptop keyboards must endure.
So it's logical for Apple to repeat this part and try to make it as resilient as possible – but it is certainly true that there is a limit to how effective that strategy might be. As for what the switches on the current keyboards might break, the theories run from dust to grit to metal fatigue. A very popular one Reddit message from earlier this month explains the matter the latter.
Apple & # 39; s butterfly keyboards have undergone several revisions since their MacBook debut in 2015, but none have succeeded in resolving underlying reliability issues. The second generation came with the 2016 MacBook Pro, with a minor update in 2017 to dampen noise. Problems persisted and the 2018 MacBook Pro came with a third-generation keyboard with silicone membranes. Now, in 2019, the third generation has been pinched with the new membrane and switch material.
Each of those keyboards sold in the last four years, as well as the new 2019 models, are now covered by a new repair program, and Apple has said that keyboard repair times have also been shortened. It is up to you to decide whether the more extensive repair program should be a cause for relief or concern.
It is currently impossible to know whether the new iFixit design will solve reliability issues once and for all. What we can say for sure is that the basic design of the butterfly keyboard has not changed. That means that if one breaks – even if it rarely happens now – this requires an intensive repair.
At the end of the day, Apple's butterfly keyboard has a much greater flaw, one that the tweaks of this model can't solve: too many people have simply lost faith in this design. Apple could theoretically fight that loss of confidence with more openness, but it has certainly not come true until now. Get the company to admit that there may be a problem been a year–long method.
When it comes to consumer confidence in Apple & # 39; s butterfly keyboards, different materials won't make a material difference.