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The new MacBook Pro keyboard may be quieter, but is it more reliable?

Published Jul 12th, 2018 7:34PM EDT
MacBook Pro Keyboard
Image: Apple

For quite some time now, Apple’s top of the line MacBook Pro has been the source of a lot of controversy and criticism. And with good reason, the new keyboard design Apple introduced on its late 2016 MacBook Pro lineup has been widely derided for being frustratingly unreliable. While Apple initially boasted that the machine’s new butterfly keyboard design resulted in a more stable typing experience, many users have observed the exact opposite. Indeed, there are no shortage of horror stories from users which detail how certain keys simply stop working if even the tiniest piece of dust happens to wedge itself underneath the keyboard.

Speaking to the severity of the issue, Apple last month launched a new service which allows MacBook and MacBook Pro owners with the butterfly keyboard design to enjoy free repairs. What’s more, users who already shelled out cash for a repair can expect to see a refund from Apple.

Earlier today, Apple introduced a refreshed line up of MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models. Amid a slew of hardware upgrades — including support for 32GB of RAM — Apple also relayed that the new machines feature an “improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing.”

Now seeing as how the keyboard was seemingly the main source of complaints on the 2016 models, it will be interesting to see how the company’s next-gen keyboard design functions out in the real world.

While we’ll have to wait a little bit before we can get a complete picture of the new machines, a few of the early reviews have already started rolling in.

A few of the more interesting excerpts regarding the new MacBook Pro keyboard can be viewed below.

Rene Ritchie of iMore writes:

There is a new keyboard. Or rather, newish. It’s a 3rd generation Butterfly and Dome switch set up. That’s not what scissor-key fans are going to want to hear, but Apple believes it’s a better, more stable, more precise overall typing experience and is sticking with it.

It’s been reengineered though, and while I’m sure — or at least I desperately hope — reliability will improve — the major focus was on reducing the loudness. That, according to Apple, has been some of the most intense feedback the company has gotten over the new keyboards.

The Verge, meanwhile, notes that the new keyboard was designed to be quieter, not to address complaints about reliability.

We got only minutes (and no more) to interact with the new hardware. So at best, I can tell you that the keyboard does seem quite a bit less clacky than current MacBooks, though key travel is the same.

That’s all for the good, but it’s not what people are worried about. Instead, it’s just hard to trust a keyboard after so many reports that it can be rendered inoperable by a grain of sand and that is incredibly difficult and expensive to repair or replace. This new third-generation keyboard wasn’t designed to solve those issues, Apple says. In fact, company representatives strenuously insisted that the keyboard issues have only affected a tiny, tiny fraction of its user base.

Other reviews relay a similar perspective, namely that the new keyboard is in fact quieter but may not alleviate some of the complaints some users had with the 2016 design. Per usual, we’ll have to wait till the machine gets in consumer hands before we can ascertain if the reliability issues that plagued the 2016 refresh persist.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.