iFixit tears down the 2019 MacBook Pro, details butterfly keyboard changes

Apple keeps trying to perfect its contentious keyboard design.

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Earlier this week, Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro lineup, boosting performance with the latest Intel processors but making no other significant changes.

Except one: There’s now another revision of the infamous “butterfly” keyboard mechanism, using new materials in a bid to further improve reliability. To go along with this new design, Apple extended the keyboard repair and replacement program to include virtually any Mac laptop with the butterfly keyboard (including the new ones), offering free repair for up to four years.

What exactly is new? The reliable tinkerers at iFixit have torn apart the newly-revised 2019 MacBook Pro. While the rest of the laptop is almost identical to previous models (earning it a horrible repairability score of 1), there are a few noticeable difference in the keyboard mechanism.

keyboards ifixit iFixit

The “butterfly” keyboard keeps going through minor revisions, but there’s a growing chorus of users who want Apple to change direction completely.

The sleuths at iFixit noticed two changes to the materials in the keyboard. First, the transparent switch cover is now clearer and smooth to the touch. It’s definitely made of a different material, as confirmed by FTIR spectroscopy. Second, the metal dome that compresses and bounces back as you press the key may be slightly revised. This metal dome is like pressing in on a bottle cap, and if it cracks or bends or the contacts wear out, the key will stop working properly. 

A different finish on the dome caps could mean that, “Apple may be using a revised heat treatment, or alloy, or possibly both,” as iFixit explains.

It’s not yet clear if these changes will fix the notorious reliability problems of the butterfly keyboard, but they won’t do anything to affect the other issues people have with the keyboard: its short throw and noisy operation.

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