Report: MacBook Keyboards Could Ditch the Butterfly Mechanism

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The MacBook lineup's butterfly mechanism could be hopping back into the chrysalis. 9to5Mac reported this week that Apple could replace the oft-maligned keyboard technology, per analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said a new switch will debut alongside the new MacBook Air sometime this year.

Apple introduced the butterfly mechanism in 2015 and followed it up with updated versions in 2017 and 2019. The mechanism was supposed to let the company make even thinner MacBooks while also offering a better typing experience with more durable keys. All three generations failed on most fronts--they've been widely criticized for being less comfortable to type on than their predecessors while also being more prone to failure.

It eventually reached the point where The Wall Street Journal published a non-paywalled article in March titled "Appl Still Hasn’t Fixd Its MacBook Kyboad Problm" to focus the company's attention on the butterfly mechanism's flaws. Reports indicated in May that the company had changed the materials used in the butterfly mechanism to make it more reliable and expanded the Keyboard Service Program to include more MacBook models. Apple then announced in June that it would offer free keyboard replacements to numerous MacBook and MacBook Pro models released between 2015 and 2017.

Kuo reportedly said that MacBook keyboards will soon feature a new glass fiber-reinforced scissor switch with longer key travel and greater durability. This new switch is expected to debut alongside the updated MacBook Air this year and then reach the MacBook Pro in 2020.

That could mean Apple's rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro could debut next year, contrary to reports indicating that it would arrive in September, but it might also mean the new model will debut with the third-generation butterfly mechanism instead. We should find out more about the company's plans in the coming months.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • velocityg4
    I don't know why Apple kept fighting it. There are many other laptops out there with similar specs, thickness, weight and battery life. The manufacturers managed to do all that with reliable keyboards. Not that there aren't occasionally Dell, Lenovo, Acer, &c laptop models plagued by problems. They just don't attract media attention like Apple. Since manufacturers don't publicly announce failure rates. They slip quietly by.
  • jsmithepa
    To admit failure they may subject themselves to a class action.

    Ya keeping my old one. Apple, NO MONEY for you.