Teardown: Apple’s new 15-inch MacBook Pro and its revised butterfly keyboard

“Apple’s newest MacBook Pro is its fastest yet, featuring an optional eight-core processor — a first in a MacBook—and a mysterious new keyboard material,” iFixit writes. “Since it’s unlikely that Apple’s going to expound on this ‘material,’ and we’re never satisfied with an unsolved mystery, it’s time once again to take a closer look at the infamous butterfly keyboard.”

“After making its debut in the 2015 Retina MacBook, the butterfly keyboard landed on the MacBook Pro line for the first time in 2016,” iFixit writes. “Designed to be super thin while accommodating off-center key presses, the keyboard proved controversial because of its extremely short throw — but soon proved unreliable as well.”

“In summer of 2018, Apple launched a repair program, privately blaming dust for jamming the keys—and released updated models with a silicone membrane protecting the key switches. But problems have persisted,” iFixit writes. “2019’s butterfly switch revision keeps the silicone membrane, but tweaks the materials in the springy metal dome and the plasticky material that covers it.”

“So, what changed this year? First, the transparent switch cover material. The cover in the 2018 model is semi-opaque, somewhat tacky, and feels like silicone. The new model is clearer and smooth to the touch,” iFixit writes. “To confirm that the materials are indeed different, we analyzed them using Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy… the closest match for the 2018 model is polyacetylene with aromatic urethane side groups, while the 2019 model uses polyamide (commonly known as nylon).”

“What else changed? We think the metal dome switch may have,” iFixit writes. “The difference in surface finish from the 2018 version (left) to the 2019 (right) indicates Apple may be using a revised heat treatment, or alloy, or possibly both.”

Much more, including many photos of components (in the keyboard and beyond), in the full teardown here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re still left with the question:

Related articles:
Apple again changes MacBook butterfly keyboard after user complaints continue – May 21, 2019
Apple extends Keyboard Service Program to all MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models with butterfly keyboard – May 21, 2019
Apple refreshes MacBook Pro with updated butterfly keyboard – May 21, 2019
Apple introduces first 8-core MacBook Pro, the fastest Mac notebook ever – May 21, 2019

7 Comments

  1. “To confirm that the materials are indeed different, we analyzed them using Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy… the closest match for the 2018 model is polyacetylene with aromatic urethane side groups, while the 2019 model uses polyamide (commonly known as nylon).”

    Marketing forensics.

  2. Likely not Liquidmetal. Liquidmetal alloys are non-ferrous, so they’re non magnetic. From the tear down…

    “These switches are also magnetized from the factory. Best guess as to their composition: ferritic stainless steel.”

  3. Lets hope this is the last version of this generation of keyboards before we get the next, which will hopefully debut in the new upcoming 16″ MacBook Pro.

    Coming so soon after the last revision I assume they discovered something and these fixes will help reduce incidents of failure.
    I don’t think this situation is as bad as the media are making out and I think some of them are confusing their dislike for the “feel” of the keyboard with it’s reliability issues, i.e. they don’t like it so it must be flawed.
    Don’t get me wrong there are clearly issues with it but I’ve been using Apple keyboards for a long time and past versions weren’t exactly free from fault.

    1. Yeah jack ass until you’re the one impacted by it. I went from being at Apple MacBook Pro lover to a hater. Keyboard is a piece of shit. It’s that simple and every one of them should be replaced. My machine it’s been sticks three times in five months it’s a fucking joke.

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