Teardown of MacBook Pro’s new butterfly keyboard reveals improved protection against dust and debris

“If Apple is advertising a quieter keyboard (without providing detail on how much quieter), shouldn’t the difference be immediately apparent to a first-time user? Why should we need high-grade equipment to prove what should be obvious to the ears?” Sam Lionheart writes for iFixit. “In a world where Apple once quietly introduced iPhone waterproofing without bragging about it, this seems like a[nother] strange instance of under-delivery. Since Apple informed their service providers that the membrane is ‘to prevent debris,’ we’re inclined to think any change in noise level really is just a secondary feature.”

“Okay, now to the nitty-gritty testing. We pumped this keyboard full of particulates to test our ingress-proofing theory. We started with a fine, powdered paint additive to add a bit of color and enable finer tracking (thanks for the tip, Dan!). Lo and behold, the dust is safely sequestered at the edges of the membrane, leaving the mechanism fairly sheltered,” Lionheart writes. “The previous-gen butterfly keys are far less protected, and are almost immediately flooded with our glowing granules.”

Dust largely stays around the exterior of the new silicone shield, but particles can make their way past the barrier over time. (Photo: iFixit)
Dust largely stays around the exterior of the new silicone shield, but particles can make their way past the barrier over time. (Photo: iFixit)

“When we’re finally able to peel the (absurdly thin) keyboard off of the aluminum case, we’re met with fields of clear silicone,” Lionheart writes. “That’s right—a single die-cut and molded sheet.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, we believe it’s due to legal reasons (pending class action lawsuits) that Apple doesn’t want to advertise that the keyboard changes are to prevent debris, not introduce some soundproofing for which nobody asked and only sound-monitoring equipment can discern.

Conflicting information distributed inside Apple about reason for silicone MacBook Pro keyboard membrane – July 19, 2018
Keyboard shootout: 2018 vs. 2017 MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards compared – July 17, 2018
So, about Apple’s new MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard – July 17, 2018
How Apple is fixing faulty keyboards in their new MacBook Pro models – July 16, 2018
Two things seem obvious about Apple’s MacBook Pro keyboard – July 13, 2018
Apple’s revised MacBook Pro butterfly keyboard: Quieter may not be enough – July 13, 2018
Apple says new MacBook Pro keyboard won’t fix sticky key issue – July 12, 2018
The 5 biggest changes in Apple’s new MacBook Pro – July 12, 2018
With Apple’s leap to 8th-generation Intel processors, the MacBook Pro just got a whole lot faster – July 12, 2018
Apple begins exclusively selling ‘Blackmagic eGPU’ for $699 alongside new MacBook Pros – July 12, 2018
Apple’s new 2018 MacBook Pro models now available with revised butterfly keyboards, much faster performance possible – July 12, 2018
MacBook Pro (2018): First look, listen, and feel! – July 12, 2018
What power users say about Apple’s new 2018 MacBook Pros – July 12, 2018
Apple unveils new MacBook Pro models with faster performance and new features for pros – July 12, 2018


  1. The keyboard problem would not have been anywhere near the fustercluck it has become if the keys could be easily removed without breaking. Nobody, even professional technicians, has been able to successfully remove the spacebar from the pre-2018 butterfly keyboards!

    Then again, to replace the entire upper case of a laptop just to replace a keyboard (that is RIVETED to the case) is so impractical!

    1. The spacebar keycap is very hard to remove from 2016 & 2017 MacBooks, but all the other keycaps are very straightforward to remove. There are a number of YouTube videos that illustrate the method. Once the keycap is removed, the cleaning procedure is pretty simple. This is something that the average user, armed with a little information, can easily perform. It’s a tempest in a teapot.

      1. Yes skilled people can get those keys off, but it seems that the risk of damage is still too high on those models from what I’ve read.

        Here’s to hoping this model handles things better! 🍻

      2. Yes – just what people who aren’t technicians should have to learn. I don’t know a single owner of a laptop (other than of the new Macbooks) who has *ever* had to prise off a keyboard key to fix it. Yet you seem to think this is normal and/or acceptable for a $2000 laptop.

  2. Bullshyte MDN. The friggin keyboard is very farkin’ Noisy

    Let’s hope this new keyboard solves that a bit, with any dust crumb protection also very welcome

  3. This is the result of a function-follows-form design philosophy, in this case, “thinness at all cost.” Computer hardware needs to be usable first and attractive second, and above all it needs to be TESTED before release. Mac laptops don’t need to get thinner. Laptops (and iPhones) are droppable tech. They need to survive reasonable falls without substantive damage, and they need to be durable and water resistant. Can’t Apple design a keyboard that can withstand a spilled cup of coffee, or extended typing over a period of years?

    I’m speaking for myself, perhaps, but I’d rather have a thicker laptop than a keyboard that I can’t feel and that easily breaks.

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