2016 MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards failing twice as frequently as older models

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  • Reply 121 of 204
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,352member
    $700 for a keyboard?!?!?!?!

    A keyboard for my Lenovo Thinkpad costs under $40, I can install it (easily) myself, and it works & feels much better than the Apple keyboard.

    Apple needs to prioritize functionality a bit higher over slick, beautiful "design"....
    The keyboard for your Lenovo Thinkpad doesn't consist of the upper case metal, the battery, and the keyboard -- as spelled out in the story.
    Yeh, I saw that and ignored that because:
    Why would I want to replace the top upper case metal and battery (and pay to tear the machine apart) just to replace a simple keyboard?  

    And, as I pointed out, the ThinkPad keyboards are far superior to MacBook keyboards (at least by any measure meaningful to me:  repairability + Comfort and efficiency typing because of their feel and travel).

    Often, people criticize a design because it was a compromise between multiple requirements.   But it  seems that the MacPro keyboards are a compromise taken too far to the point that it simply ignores too many other requirements in the pursuit of thinness and lightness.
    It wasn't a judgement statement -- just a factual one. 

    My MBP 2012 keyboard collapsed into the case under use in 2015. Some of the rivets they use to hold the keyboard in place snapped. It cost me $440 to replace it. So, I'm not a big fan.
    Sorry to hear that.   That was a very un-Apple-Like thing for it do...
  • Reply 122 of 204
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,879administrator
    $700 for a keyboard?!?!?!?!

    A keyboard for my Lenovo Thinkpad costs under $40, I can install it (easily) myself, and it works & feels much better than the Apple keyboard.

    Apple needs to prioritize functionality a bit higher over slick, beautiful "design"....
    The keyboard for your Lenovo Thinkpad doesn't consist of the upper case metal, the battery, and the keyboard -- as spelled out in the story.
    Yeh, I saw that and ignored that because:
    Why would I want to replace the top upper case metal and battery (and pay to tear the machine apart) just to replace a simple keyboard?  

    And, as I pointed out, the ThinkPad keyboards are far superior to MacBook keyboards (at least by any measure meaningful to me:  repairability + Comfort and efficiency typing because of their feel and travel).

    Often, people criticize a design because it was a compromise between multiple requirements.   But it  seems that the MacPro keyboards are a compromise taken too far to the point that it simply ignores too many other requirements in the pursuit of thinness and lightness.
    It wasn't a judgement statement -- just a factual one. 

    My MBP 2012 keyboard collapsed into the case under use in 2015. Some of the rivets they use to hold the keyboard in place snapped. It cost me $440 to replace it. So, I'm not a big fan.
    Sorry to hear that.   That was a very un-Apple-Like thing for it do...
    Just a fluke failure. They happen.
  • Reply 123 of 204
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,544member
    cgWerks said:
    fastasleep said:
    Why do people think Jony Ive is sitting around designing every component on every device? ... By all accounts, Ive largely has a supervisory role in overall design. Anyone who thinks he designed the butterfly key mechanisms has no idea what they’re talking about. 
    Yeah, the question is whether he, or Tim, etc. had say in whether it shipped or not. (Instead of Jobs, who would have told them to get back to work and do better.)

    Still funny to me that people say this stuff with authority, as if they know what Jobs would’ve actually done in situation x. What a disservice to him.
    cgWerks said:
    fastasleep said:
    All signs point to them moving to flat virtual control surfaces. This and the enlarged trackpad and Touch Bar and Taptic Engune are steps in that direction. I’m sure they didn’t anticipate the keyboard failing, but it’s absurd to assume they didn’t do testing. Apple makes mistakes, and I expect they’ll find a way to correct this, eventually, if the numbers are as bad as they appear to be. 
    If true, that's even worse. If you want to experiment with this kind of stuff in the odd, unique product, that's one thing. This is for the high-end professional-use product. What professionals want a flat virtual keyboard? Why?

    Look, I know you have a hard time imagining a future of computing that looks different from your own use case, or even a different definition of “professional” that doesn’t involve a big clicky keyboard, but Apple can. Look at all the input/keyboard patents on Patently Apple going back ten years and the tea leaves aren’t that hard to read. The technology isn’t where it needs to be yet to replace the traditional keyboard, but you can see the steps they’ve taken and continue to take. The future is coming whether you like it or not; you should give it a chance. 
    Soli
  • Reply 124 of 204
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,544member
    cgWerks said:

    The initial Apple Watch was mostly useless, and even the current iteration is barely usable due to battery-life constraints.

    Uhh...bullshit. As the owner of a Series 1, and living with the owner of my previous Series 0, neither of these assertions are true. Mine went on the charger last night with 40% charge after all-day use. My 0 used to be at 30% with watchOS 1 back at the beginning, and I used it all the time. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 125 of 204
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,544member
    SEJU said:
    My service experience with previous MBPs has always been that most repairs where carried out in 1 hour. With this generation they take it in and you have to return the next day or later, almost as if they had to do some form of meditation beforehand or as if they had to decide who is going to be the lucky one who has to disassemble the whole machine in order to repair the keyboard.
    Because most of these repairs get overnighted to Texas and back. 
  • Reply 126 of 204
    flashfan207flashfan207 Posts: 281member
    On my late 2016 MacBook Pro the z key stopped working reliably recently. Fortunately, I have AppleCare on the computer, so I made an Apple Genius appointment (took about three days). I was told that the keyboard would have to be replaced and it would take 3-5 days. Since it's my work computer, I asked if there was any other option and I was told no, that they have to send them all out for repairs. On one hand, the turn around was exceptional. I left my computer with Apple around 4 pm on a Monday and got it back around 9 am on Wednesday by Fedex Priority. But, on the other hand, if I did not have AppleCare, the price to replace the keyboard would have been $100 labor, $695 parts, plus tax or $854.63 total which makes AppleCare look like a bargain. I never used to purchase AppleCare on my Apple products because they were so reliable, but that is no longer the case.
    So very true. It is unfortunate that AppleCare now seems like a smart decision, whereas it seems like just a couple years ago it felt like more of a rip-off and completely unnecessary. 
  • Reply 127 of 204
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,544member
    That fact that the repeat return rate is much higher for the new keyboard suggests that the problem is personal.  Some people will have more problems with this new keyboard, while others won't.  My personal theory is that it's crumb related.  The new keyboard is (reportedly) very finicky if something gets between the keys.

    Fortunately for me, I have no complaints about the keyboard (MacBook Pro 2016) nor have I have any problems with it.
    Real Professionals™️ eat at their desks.
    cgWerksGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 128 of 204
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,674member
    cgWerks said:

    The initial Apple Watch was mostly useless, and even the current iteration is barely usable due to battery-life constraints.

    Uhh...bullshit. As the owner of a Series 1, and living with the owner of my previous Series 0, neither of these assertions are true. Mine went on the charger last night with 40% charge after all-day use. My 0 used to be at 30% with watchOS 1 back at the beginning, and I used it all the time. 
    I could go 2 days with my Series 0 under normal use, and even stretched that out to several more days in Airplane Mode. I wore it until the Series 3 with Cellular was available. My Active calories are set to 1000 calories per day and I also wear it whilst sleeping to record my sleep*, so it's not like it's mostly sedentary on my wrist all day.

    It's an amazing device that has only gotten better over time. If I have any gripes** it's that Apple wasn't smart enough to know what the UI should focus on out of the gate, which resulted in drastic UI changes (in some areas) in those 3 years, but I can say with absolutely certainty (as I always do) that the Apple Watch is unnecessary yet indispensable.

    * So when do I charge it (some may ask)? When I shower. That's enough to keep me topped off.
    ** Well, additional gripes would be not having access to Spotify, SiriusXM, or Notes, which are all apps I use daily on my iPhone, but they aren't deal breakers and could all be addressed in next month's WWDC.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 129 of 204
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,544member
    Soli said:
    cgWerks said:

    The initial Apple Watch was mostly useless, and even the current iteration is barely usable due to battery-life constraints.

    Uhh...bullshit. As the owner of a Series 1, and living with the owner of my previous Series 0, neither of these assertions are true. Mine went on the charger last night with 40% charge after all-day use. My 0 used to be at 30% with watchOS 1 back at the beginning, and I used it all the time. 
    I could go 2 days with my Series 0 under normal use, and even stretched that out to several more days in Airplane Mode. I wore it until the Series 3 with Cellular was available. My Active calories are set to 1000 calories per day and I also wear it whilst sleeping to record my sleep*, so it's not like it's mostly sedentary on my wrist all day.

    It's an amazing device that has only gotten better over time. If I have any gripes** it's that Apple wasn't smart enough to know what the UI should focus on out of the gate, which resulted in drastic UI changes (in some areas) in those 3 years, but I can say with absolutely certainty (as I always do) that the Apple Watch is unnecessary yet indispensable.

    * So when do I charge it (some may ask)? When I shower. That's enough to keep me topped off.
    ** Well, additional gripes would be not having access to Spotify, SiriusXM, or Notes, which are all apps I use daily on my iPhone, but they aren't deal breakers and could all be addressed in next month's WWDC.
    Agreed. The people who say it’s useless obviously haven’t used one. Same thing I see re VR all the time. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 130 of 204
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 378member
    Strange to read the criticism on this forum. I have the 2016 mbp and I LOVE the keyboard. I prefer it to my iMac keyboard. 

    My my boss has an older model and I let him use mine and he thought it was very refined compared to his. 

    It has “just right” travel. The older models feel clunky after this. 
  • Reply 131 of 204
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,346member
    That fact that the repeat return rate is much higher for the new keyboard suggests that the problem is personal.  Some people will have more problems with this new keyboard, while others won't.  My personal theory is that it's crumb related.  The new keyboard is (reportedly) very finicky if something gets between the keys.

    Fortunately for me, I have no complaints about the keyboard (MacBook Pro 2016) nor have I have any problems with it.
    Real Professionals™️ eat at their desks.
    Waitaminnit... you get to eat? 
    cgWerksGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 132 of 204
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,521member
    I'm gone from small to big over the past few years. Had a 2015 MacBook, which I bought for its portability (because it fit my workflow better). Hated the keyboard, and the keys always got stuck. But a quick dusting with come compressed air would usually do the trick. I then moved on to a 2016 13-inch MBP (no Touch Bar), and the keyboard seemed a little better. The keys were fine until about a year in, then they started sticking more often. The compressed air trick still worked to a degree, but I still don't think that they functioned as well as day one. My wife is now using this laptop.

    I never had a problem with the keyboard on my older Airs or MacBook Pros -- if they got a crumb or something under the keys, a firm press would just obliterate them. Not so with the new keyboards.

    Most recently, I picked up a pre-owned 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016) from B&H Photo in like new condition (9+ rating in their parlance) for $1600 with no tax. Still has a warranty until November 2018 and I'm still debating as to whether I should get AppleCare+. I'm taking every precaution with this laptop -- no eating around it, no snacks, no drinks, no nothing. I'm not taking any chances.

    On a side note, I'm still pissed at Apple for ditching MagSafe. I can't tell you how many time MagSafe saved my older MacBooks back in the day either from my clumsiness or the inattentiveness of others. And I tried to take every precaution with the new USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 power on my recent MacBooks. However, I was outfoxed by my 2-year-old about a month ago. The 13-inch MBP was sitting on our round kitchen table plugged into the wall. I got up for a minute to go do something and my son went around the table and tripped over the cord, which was plugged into the wall nearby. The jolt knocked the laptop to the ground, denting the top cover on the corner (but luckily not damaging the display) and THANK GOODNESS, it didn't fall on my son's foot -- that would have hurt like hell or he could have lost a digit.

    Had it been MagSafe, it would have just detached without issue. Even worse is that I've searched all over for breakaway magnetic Thunderbolt adapters for MacBooks, but the reviews for every single one of them sucks. Why oh WHY did they have to get rid of MagSafe?
    cgWerks
  • Reply 133 of 204
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,346member
    mazda 3s said:
    I'm gone from small to big over the past few years. Had a 2015 MacBook, which I bought for its portability (because it fit my workflow better). Hated the keyboard, and the keys always got stuck. But a quick dusting with come compressed air would usually do the trick. I then moved on to a 2016 13-inch MBP (no Touch Bar), and the keyboard seemed a little better. The keys were fine until about a year in, then they started sticking more often. The compressed air trick still worked to a degree, but I still don't think that they functioned as well as day one. My wife is now using this laptop.

    I never had a problem with the keyboard on my older Airs or MacBook Pros -- if they got a crumb or something under the keys, a firm press would just obliterate them. Not so with the new keyboards.

    Most recently, I picked up a pre-owned 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016) from B&H Photo in like new condition (9+ rating in their parlance) for $1600 with no tax. Still has a warranty until November 2018 and I'm still debating as to whether I should get AppleCare+. I'm taking every precaution with this laptop -- no eating around it, no snacks, no drinks, no nothing. I'm not taking any chances.

    On a side note, I'm still pissed at Apple for ditching MagSafe. I can't tell you how many time MagSafe saved my older MacBooks back in the day either from my clumsiness or the inattentiveness of others. And I tried to take every precaution with the new USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 power on my recent MacBooks. However, I was outfoxed by my 2-year-old about a month ago. The 13-inch MBP was sitting on our round kitchen table plugged into the wall. I got up for a minute to go do something and my son went around the table and tripped over the cord, which was plugged into the wall nearby. The jolt knocked the laptop to the ground, denting the top cover on the corner (but luckily not damaging the display) and THANK GOODNESS, it didn't fall on my son's foot -- that would have hurt like hell or he could have lost a digit.

    Had it been MagSafe, it would have just detached without issue. Even worse is that I've searched all over for breakaway magnetic Thunderbolt adapters for MacBooks, but the reviews for every single one of them sucks. Why oh WHY did they have to get rid of MagSafe?
    I really miss those 17" MacBook Pros. Would love to see a larger screen again (plus a return to MagSafe).
    mazda 3s
  • Reply 134 of 204
    colinngcolinng Posts: 67member
    bsimpsen said:
    You've got your numbers all wrong. Given that Apple sold north of 18 million Macs in 2016 (and probably a similar amount in 2014), it would be reasonable to assume that the MacBook Pro 13/15 unit volume was at least 5 million units and probably much higher.
    They got numbers from just a handful of stores, so you can't use 5MM as the denominator.
  • Reply 135 of 204
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,544member
    That fact that the repeat return rate is much higher for the new keyboard suggests that the problem is personal.  Some people will have more problems with this new keyboard, while others won't.  My personal theory is that it's crumb related.  The new keyboard is (reportedly) very finicky if something gets between the keys.

    Fortunately for me, I have no complaints about the keyboard (MacBook Pro 2016) nor have I have any problems with it.
    Real Professionals™️ eat at their desks.
    Waitaminnit... you get to eat? 
    My doctor says I need food to live. 
    SpamSandwichSEJU
  • Reply 136 of 204
    captmarkcaptmark Posts: 32member
    I have a 2016 15” touch bar MBP, and for a while I thought my typing was getting sloppier, because I started seeing more typos (usually auto-corrected, but sometimes to the wrong word). I eventually did some testing and realized it was the keyboard failing inconsistently. Fortunately I bought AppleCare—for the first time in 30+ years of Mac ownership—but I feel bad for all the people who didn’t and also have this problem. Apple should just bite the bullet and fix this for free for those people.  
    I have the same problems with the touch bar but I am causing it by hunting and pecking my other 8 finds float in the air and some times get close enough  to the touch bar and it types the word on the Touch Bar in my sentence!!! It took me 2 years to realize!!!!!
    cgWerks
  • Reply 137 of 204
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,346member
    That fact that the repeat return rate is much higher for the new keyboard suggests that the problem is personal.  Some people will have more problems with this new keyboard, while others won't.  My personal theory is that it's crumb related.  The new keyboard is (reportedly) very finicky if something gets between the keys.

    Fortunately for me, I have no complaints about the keyboard (MacBook Pro 2016) nor have I have any problems with it.
    Real Professionals™️ eat at their desks.
    Waitaminnit... you get to eat? 
    My doctor says I need food to live. 
    If I hadn't gotten addicted to food in my childhood, I wouldn't need it today.
  • Reply 138 of 204
    thttht Posts: 2,750member
    The numbers as presented are a top case replacement, necessitated by a keyboard failure of some sort. So, they can't be caused by things unrelated to the keyboard. Beyond spills, it doesn't speak to root cause of keyboard failure, nor is that particularly relevant at present.

    Regarding the 2012, 2013 and MacBook, this is the data we have. Data on the first year of the 2012 and 2013 won't be coming. At present, I don't have enough data on the first and second gen MacBooks to say anything about them with any certainty of accuracy.
    Of course keyboard failures can be related to things not related to the keyboard. You presented information that the 4th gen models have increased incidences of multiple repairs. You can conclude that that is due to a poorly designed keyboard, or you can conclude that the repair didn’t fix the root cause of the problem, and whatever that was the root cause of the problem caused a replacement keyboard to fail too. These are thin devices with smaller and smaller tolerances. Maybe the 2016 model simply had a battery that could swell, resulting in stuck keys in someway. After a period of inactivity due to the failed keyboard, the battery ends up less swollen falling inside tolerance, and the service folks conclude it is a failed keyboard instead. After usage with a replaced keyboard, the battery swells a little bit again, causing the keyboard to fail. Cycle repeats.

    Heck, people say blowing compressed air into the keys can sometimes clear up a stuck key, thinking it blew away crumbs. Maybe what happens instead is the compressed air cooled down the key mechanism, causing the mechanism to shrink back into tolerance and making it function again, and it wasn’t because of crumbs. A hot battery or hot machine can exacerbate this type of problem. You can also conclude that since the 4th gen models are newer, the technique for repair isn’t quite solid yet, and that would result in increased incidences of multiple repairs, ie, a repair process issue, that’ll work itself out in subsequent years.

    If you have failures per device numbers you can make a some decent conclusions, maybe, but obviously no one really knows that outside of Apple. What you did present was bit too much fitting into a preconceived notion. You mention that the 4th gen models had less service calls. That isn’t that relevant without knowing actual device numbers, because it could have less service calls because of less sales. Or the other way around, it’s a reliable device with less problems, thus making keyboard repairs a more prominent problem when you normalize it with total service calls, but on a failure by failure count basis, they are basically the same at around 100 to 150 keyboard failures among the service calls relative to the total machines in the wild, and it may not be statistically relevant.

    The AI article has been amplified by Gruber, but it is not making much of a viral spiral yet. If it has potential to spiral, I would hope you have more solid numbers.
  • Reply 139 of 204
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,468member
    SEJU said:
    I have to ask: you mean you are fastest on a keyboard similar to an M3501with the ALPS mechanism? Personally, I appreciated the introduction of the chiclet style Apple Keyboard (A1243), I find it more relaxing to type. Somehow it stresses my wrists less. That is probably the reason, why I am perfectly ok with typing on the new keyboard.
    Yes, and I'm not sure. I'd have to spend a substantial length of time with each and then test the speed. I just feel like that was the most fluid-feeling keyboard I've ever used. The other keyboard I got really fast on (but it messed me up, too) was the PowerBook 100. The keyboard was a bit smaller than normal, but I got really fast on it. Of course, that messed me up for standard sized keyboards for a while.

    That all said... quiet has become a fairly important metric that previously wasn't. Screen-recording, YouTube videos, podcasting, video-conferences, etc. all make having a quiet keyboard/trackpad/mouse quite beneficial. I think those older keyboards were fairly noisy, but I can't recall where the M3501 fell anymore. I currently use the Magic Keyboard, and it's just OK.

    That fact that the repeat return rate is much higher for the new keyboard suggests that the problem is personal.  Some people will have more problems with this new keyboard, while others won't.
    Or, the part is faulty and too prone to failure. So, the new part fails just like the original, and relatively quickly.

    foregoneconclusion said:
    Yeah, there's nothing about the data available that would eliminate manufacturing issues from being the most probable explanation. There's also zero context in terms of laptop keyboard repair rates from other companies. Are either set of numbers actually significant relative to laptops? Nobody really knows. 
    A lot of PC laptop keyboards are so bad to begin with, that you don't know if they are broken or not. :)  jk

    Mike Wuerthele said:
    It may very well be crumb-related. But, I'm not certain how much I care about that, given that Apple is fully aware that computers are treated more and more like appliances and not babied like in days of yore.
    I seriously doubt people are treating these any more harshly than they did older models. I've lugged my old MBPs around dusty factory environments to server rooms, and certainly dropped crumbs in them (while eating many a lunch or snack while working). Again, what I hear second-hand, is that we're talking dust here, not cookie crumbs (though I'm sure the latter would really destroy them).

    And, if simple dust means I gotta get out the air can, while it wouldn't constitute a failure in this data, I'd still consider it a problem. Like I said, we're currently living next to construction, and I'm wiping a pretty good later of dust off my desk every week. That's just reality for a lot of people.

    GeorgeBMac said:
    Often, people criticize a design because it was a compromise between multiple requirements.   But it  seems that the MacPro keyboards are a compromise taken too far to the point that it simply ignores too many other requirements in the pursuit of thinness and lightness.
    Exactly. What were the design constraints and priority? If you have a failure-prone design that a large part of your audience don't really like the feel of, what's left? It has to be thinness, weight, or something like that.
  • Reply 140 of 204
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,468member
    fastasleep said:
    Still funny to me that people say this stuff with authority, as if they know what Jobs would’ve actually done in situation x. What a disservice to him.
    ...
    Look, I know you have a hard time imagining a future of computing that looks different from your own use case, or even a different definition of “professional” that doesn’t involve a big clicky keyboard, but Apple can. Look at all the input/keyboard patents on Patently Apple going back ten years and the tea leaves aren’t that hard to read. The technology isn’t where it needs to be yet to replace the traditional keyboard, but you can see the steps they’ve taken and continue to take. The future is coming whether you like it or not; you should give it a chance. 
    Jobs actually cared about computers... particularly the professional models. While I can't know exactly how it would have gone, I'm pretty confident I wouldn't be far off.

    And, this has nothing to do with future-tech imagination. I'm pretty sure professionals of the future will need to get information into their computers, too. Unless you're imagining some kind of virtual keys with taptic, force-fields, and tractor-beams, I think we'll be sticking with real keyboards for quite a long time.

    fastasleep said:
    Uhh...bullshit. As the owner of a Series 1, and living with the owner of my previous Series 0, neither of these assertions are true. Mine went on the charger last night with 40% charge after all-day use. My 0 used to be at 30% with watchOS 1 back at the beginning, and I used it all the time. 
    What do you do with it?

    fastasleep said:
    Real Professionals™️ eat at their desks.
    I can't disagree here. My previous MBPs actually did have to deal with real crumbs, not just imaginary ones and dust particles.

    Soli said:
    I could go 2 days with my Series 0 under normal use, and even stretched that out to several more days in Airplane Mode. I wore it until the Series 3 with Cellular was available. My Active calories are set to 1000 calories per day and I also wear it whilst sleeping to record my sleep*, so it's not like it's mostly sedentary on my wrist all day.
    Sorry, I should have been a bit more precise. I didn't mean the battery couldn't last long enough for what it does. I meant that, IMO, it first became useful in this last generation with cellular connectivity... but that connectivity is *very* constrained by the battery.

    fastasleep said:
    Agreed. The people who say it’s useless obviously haven’t used one. Same thing I see re VR all the time. 
    Let me guess, you love your 3D TV, too? ;)
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