Teardown finds new MacBook Air is 0.5mm thicker with Magic Keyboard

iFixit today shared the results of one of their teardowns of the new 2020 MacBook Air, which includes the new scissor-switch Magic keyboard, unveiled by Apple last week via press release.

MacBook Air now features the new Magic Keyboard with a redesigned scissor mechanism that delivers 1mm of key travel for a comfortable and stable key feel.
MacBook Air now features the new Magic Keyboard with a redesigned scissor mechanism that delivers 1mm of key travel for a comfortable and stable key feel.

Apple’s new Magic Keyboard, which replaces the company’s butterfly mechanism fiasco, is about 0.5mm thicker than the butterfly keyboard of the prior-generation model, which accounts for the minor increase in the MacBook Air’s overall thinness.

iFixit:

Apple has released a new MacBook Air with an updated Magic Keyboard, like the one we saw on the 16” MacBook Pro last year. Notably, that new keyboard has only added half a millimeter to the thick end of the new Air—the new wedge slopes from 4.1 mm to 16.1 mm.

These “Magic” a.k.a. scissor keys have proven, so far, to be considerably more reliable than the Butterfly variety.

Where last year the trackpad cables were trapped under the logic board, they are now free to be disconnected anytime—meaning trackpad removal can happen as soon as the back cover comes off. And since the battery rests under these same cables, this new configuration also greatly speeds up battery removal by leaving the logic board in place. That’s two very tasty birds, one stone, for those of you counting. This is one of those happy (but all too rare) occasions where we can identify a hardware change from Apple that’s squarely aimed at improving serviceability in the existing design.

The difference between the butterfly keyboard and this Magic one is—you guessed it—about .5 mm… More than anything, that 0.5 mm illustrates the sheer unnecessary-ness of the five painful years that Mac fans spent smashing on unresponsive butterfly keyboards. Knowing that Apple’s thinnest-and-lightest notebook accommodates a scissor-switch keyboard so gracefully makes us wonder what it was all for. We understand as well as anyone the urge to fix things, but Apple’s insistence on reworking and re-reworking the troubled butterfly design came at such a high cost—financially, environmentally, and to the Mac’s reputation—and for what?

MacDailyNews Take: See all of the gory teardown photos over at iFixit here and, oh, we’ll just leave these here:

We’ve had to endure years of inferior keyboards in order to shave off half a millimeter about which no one not named Jony gave a rat’s ass.MacDailyNews, April 2, 2019

Hey, Jony: Enough with the thin. Everything is thin enough. Sometimes too thin. Thinner isn’t the answer to everything, nor is thinness intrinsic to good design. We’d gladly take a bit more robustness and battery life over more unnecessary thinness, thanks.MacDailyNews, June 25, 2018

The law of diminishing returns can also be applied to industrial design. Apple’s eternal quest for thinness eventually runs into issues such as bulging camera assemblies, battery capacity, strength (breakability), etc. – is Apple’s quest for thinness now bordering on the quixotic? So, is it “you can never be too thin” or is it “thin enough is thin enough?”MacDailyNews, December 21, 2015

1 Comment

  1. Apple, please apply the same logic to your desktops, especially the Mac mini.

    There is NO compelling reason to lose user serviceability of RAM and HD/SSD on a desktop for an extra few millimeters of thinness.

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