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The new MacBook Pro “butterfly” keyboard is likely designed for better durability

Apple says the keyboard uses the “butterfly” key mechanism–redesigned for quieter operation.

The new MacBook Pro “butterfly” keyboard is likely designed for better durability
[Photo: Ash Edmonds/Unsplash]
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For the low-slung keys of the 2016 MacBook Pros, Apple used a new “butterfly” design. Some users simply didn’t like the feel of the new keys, while others reported that they would fail if a small bit of debris made its way underneath.

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One report said the keyboard issue led to far more “warrantee events” in the 2016 models than in MacBook Pros from previous years. The problem even led to at least two class action lawsuits. Last month Apple acknowledged that a “small percentage” of the keyboards on its MacBook and MacBook Pro models may exhibit “sticky” keys and key strike failures. It also announced a free repair program for machines suffering from the problems.

Apple iterated on the key design in the 2017 Macbook Pros, and users reported less reliability problems with the keyboard.

Now the company has announced the 2018 line of MacBook Pros. The laptops use the same general design as their predecessors, the main improvement being greater processing power. While Apple isn’t saying much about it, a spokesperson did confirm that the butterfly key mechanism has again been improved for 2018.

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Asked if the keyboard had been redesigned with the express purpose of eradicating the key failure problem, the spokesperson told me that the design has been changed for quieter operation, not specifically to address reliability and durability issues.

While Apple isn’t saying it, it’s a pretty safe bet that the improved key design will result in fewer reports of key failure in this year’s model.

We will soon be posting a hands-on review of the new machines.

About the author

Fast Company Senior Writer Mark Sullivan covers emerging technology, politics, artificial intelligence, large tech companies, and misinformation. An award-winning San Francisco-based journalist, Sullivan's work has appeared in Wired, Al Jazeera, CNN, ABC News, CNET, and many others.

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