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MacBook Pro keyboard design is still causing issues for some users

March 28th, 2019 at 4:29 PM

Apple hardware, historically speaking, is usually best-in-class. Whether we’re talking about iPhones or Macs, one of the longstanding benefits of purchasing Apple hardware is that it, to borrow a phrase from an old Apple marketing campaign, “just works.”

Unfortunately, the MacBook Pro redesign Apple introduced back in late 2016 is a glaring exception to this rule. The problem with that particular MacBook Pro refresh is that it incorporated a brand new butterfly keyboard design that proved to be problematic. While the new keyboard design was 40% thinner than a traditional keyboard, while also allowing for “greater precision” when striking keys, individual keys were prone to failure if even a speck of dust lodged itself underneath the keyboard.

Apple in 2018 seemingly fixed the issue for good with its 2018 MacBook Pro update. At the time, Apple touted an “improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing.” A subsequent teardown of the new MacBook Pro revealed that the keyboard keys were nestled underneath a thin plastic-style membrane designed to prevent particles from sneaking in and wreaking havoc.

While the butterfly keyboard on the current MacBook Pro is far more reliable than the first incarnation, it hasn’t been a cure-all for all users. To this point, Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal writes that the E and R keys on her relatively brand new MacBook Pro simply stopped working.

Apple, somewhat surprisingly, acknowledged the problem and even went so far as to apologize for the ongoing issue in a statement provided to the Journal.

“We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry,” an Apple spokesperson said. “The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.”

Nearly three years after the 2016 MacBook Pro refresh, it’s simply unfathomable that loyal Apple users who spend upwards of $2000 on a new machine still have to contend with this type of problem.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.




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