How the New MacBook Pro Solves Apple's Keyboard Problem

(Image credit: Apple)

It looks like Apple's new MacBook Pro keyboard isn't just quieter: it's also more reliable.

According to leaked documents, the third-generation Butterfly-style keyboards in the 2018 MacBook Pros feature a design change intended to block debris and protect your typing.

The new keyboards feature a thin, rubberized membrane layer, which was first revealed by iFixit on July 13, in a post that claimed "Apple’s new quieter keyboard is actually a silent scheme to fix their keyboard reliability issues." But while that post was mere conjecture, an internal Apple document obtained by MacGeneration provides evidence that the keyboard is more reliable.

The shared snippet of that document notes "The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism." It also states that "the procedure for the space bar replacement has also changed from the previous model," which reminds me of how I've seen colleagues frantically trying to click their space bar into working again.

(Image credit: MacGeneration)

The document published by MacGeneration matches the fonts that Apple uses, and the idea of a membrane that protects against crumbs and other detritus is reflected in an Apple patent published on March 8. Specifically, the patent referenced that the membrane would "block passage of contaminants into the apertures."

(Image credit: US Patent and Trademark Office)

If you're wondering why Apple wouldn't publicly boast that its latest laptops feature more-reliable keyboards, the most likely answer is protecting its legal liability. Apple is currently facing dual class-action lawsuits (12) that accuse the company of being aware of the failure rates in its keyboards. 

We've reached out to Apple for comment, and will update this story if we get a response.

This story originally appeared on Laptop Mag.

Henry T. Casey
Henry is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, security and Apple. Prior to joining Tom's Guide — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and looking for the headphone adapter that he unplugged from his iPhone.
  • ssdpro
    MacBooks have a long list of problems. Having used 3 different models (2011, 2013, 2016) fairly routinely I haven't experienced keyboard problems. The keyboards and touchpads have been 100%. It's the battery, absurd cooling (legs/nuts on fire after 10 minutes?), connectivity, and crippled OS that need attention.
  • jase.manning
    Are they heat resistant too?