Apple extends MacBook Pro keyboard service program to 2018 models

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited May 21
Apple is extending its service program for MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboard repairs to include models released in 2018, and it making it faster for end-users as well.




Apple announced the extension on Tuesday. Originally, Apple launched its service program in 2018 for a "small percentage" of MacBook and MacBook Pro models exhibiting keyboard failures in 2018, in answer to complaints of alleged flaws in the design of the butterfly keyboard mechanism. The program enables customers who experienced repeating characters, unresponsive, or sticky keys, to bring their MacBook to Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for a free service.

Initially the program covered models of the Retina 12-inch MacBook, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 15-inch MacBook Pro released between 2015 and 2017, but did not include those released in 2018. In the extension, the program now covers servicing of the previously-excluded 2018 models.

For today's also-announced updates to the MacBook Pro, Apple has refined the design of the keyboard to try and reduce the number of unresponsive or double-typing key instances. During a call to media, Apple advised some existing owners of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that use the third-generation keyboard may find their keyboards replaced with one of the newer variants.

Apple updated the design of the third-generation butterfly mechanism in 2018 to include a thin silicone membrane, which encased the mechanism with a film around the sides. It is thought the membrane is an attempt to make the keys quieter as well as helping to prevent debris from interfering with the mechanism, but Apple has so far only advised of its quietening nature.



Independent testing of the third-generation's membrane tested the theory that it protected the mechanism, but found that it didn't work that effectively, with fine dust pushed to the edges to keep the mechanism clear, but failing under larger quantities of debris.

Apple has so far issued an apologetic statement over more recent complaints about the 2018 mechanism, reiterating similar communications on the matter in advising issues only affected a small number of users.

AppleInsider's accumulation of repair service data from March indicated the failure rate of the 2018 model's keyboards was lower than the 2016 versions, but about the same as the 2017 models, despite the addition of the membrane.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    Time to just stop making these keyboards and redesign a proper substitute.
    elijahgbluefire180s_Apple_GuycgWerks
  • Reply 2 of 12
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,756member
    Time to just stop making these keyboards and redesign a proper substitute.
    That would be easy.   Just go back to the pre-butterfly keyboard.   4 years is too long for this beta to go on.
    80s_Apple_GuycgWerks
  • Reply 3 of 12
    bitmodbitmod Posts: 267member
    I’ve seriously been offered more for my mint 2015 than a new MBP... with all it’s glorious connections, inputs, MagSafe, fixability, reliability...
    The last true MBP before Ives and Tim steered the brand into the ditch. 

    Apple should just re-release the 2015 with some updated internals. Same with the 2010 Mac Pro. 




    elijahg1STnTENDERBITS80s_Apple_GuyMplsP
  • Reply 4 of 12
    bitmod said:
    I’ve seriously been offered more for my mint 2015 than a new MBP... with all it’s glorious connections, inputs, MagSafe, fixability, reliability...
    The last true MBP before Ives and Tim steered the brand into the ditch. 

    Apple should just re-release the 2015 with some updated internals. Same with the 2010 Mac Pro. 




    Yup my late 2013 MBP just got a new battery and with it a new and clean upper top and keyboard. Working great for me.
    My last generation 17" MBP is going to get a motherboard fix to replace the GPU and carry on a bit longer too.
  • Reply 5 of 12
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,592member
    The new keyboards (not really that new anymore ...) work fine for the vast majority of owners, especially the ones who aren’t slobs who eat/drink over their computers (but of course this was also a huge factor with all the previous keyboards, on any portable from any maker).

    I know roughly 100 people with either MacBooks or recent MacBook Pros, and not one of them has had any issues. That is of course anecdotal and unscientific, but it lends credibility to the reports that a small percentage of owners (who are very understandably unhappy, I’m not dismissing their problem or frustration) are affected by this. AI’s own tracking of this problem through repair shops proves Apple’s claims about that correct. I’m glad to hear that despite this, they a) took the problem seriously, b) studied the problem carefully, c) tried to mitigate the existing issue with free repairs, and d) seem to have now arrived at a solution that works better. They’re offering free repairs for all the affected machines and hopefully the new solution will work.

    This process takes longer than anyone would like, but it’s the right thing to do. We’re not going back to thick keyboards — indeed I wonder how long laptop will even have physical keyboards — and once Apple has a solution that really holds up, you can safely expect the rest of the industry to quickly copy them ... just as they did with the “chiclet” keyboard Apple pioneered.
    fastasleepStrangeDayschia
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Having replaced several MBP KBs and used compressed air to sort out sticking keys on many others I can say that I'm very happy with the 3rd-gen on my retina MacBook Air.  I eat toast over it and so far have had zero issues in the 5 months I've had it.  Great little machine.  
  • Reply 7 of 12
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,220member
    So, in 2020, will we be seeing 2019 models included?
    bitmod said:
    I’ve seriously been offered more for my mint 2015 than a new MBP... with all it’s glorious connections, inputs, MagSafe, fixability, reliability...
    The last true MBP before Ives and Tim steered the brand into the ditch. 
    Yeah, and I don't recall seeing ads for $1000 off 2015 MBPs. But, of course, there isn't really any issue, right?
  • Reply 8 of 12
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,220member

    chasm said:
    I know roughly 100 people with either MacBooks or recent MacBook Pros, and not one of them has had any issues. That is of course anecdotal and unscientific, but it lends credibility to the reports that a small percentage of owners ...
    So, tech journalists, bloggers, and YouTubers are just really statistically unlucky, or they are lying?

    Fortunately, I only have a direct sample size of one (my son's). We'll see how it goes.

    chasm said:
    This process takes longer than anyone would like, but it’s the right thing to do. We’re not going back to thick keyboards — indeed I wonder how long laptop will even have physical keyboards ...
    I guess it is good, then, that I've kind of resigned myself to not needing a laptop any longer. Because if I needed a laptop now, I'm not sure what I'd do.
    No one is asking them to put Cherry switches in there, but something that is nice to type on and reliable should be an assumption, especially of a high-end product.

    The 'chicklet' keys might not be all the way to the ideal typing experience, but they are more like 80% vs 5% to 10% with the butterfly. I expect some compromise for portability, but that I'd probably include and stress a 'reasonable' qualifier for compromise.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    danvmdanvm Posts: 758member
    chasm said:
    The new keyboards (not really that new anymore ...) work fine for the vast majority of owners, especially the ones who aren’t slobs who eat/drink over their computers (but of course this was also a huge factor with all the previous keyboards, on any portable from any maker).

    Not all notebook have the issues Apple have with keyboards and dust.  Thinkpads have spill resitant keyboards and test them with mesh silica dust and silica sand as part of the Mil-SPEC certifications.  

    http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/thinkpad-laptop-chamber-of-horrors-mil-spec-test/
    https://p.widencdn.net/ky4bev/asset-thinkpad-mil-spec-flyer
  • Reply 10 of 12
    danvmdanvm Posts: 758member
    Why would Apple already include the 2019 Macbook Pro's in the program?  Does it means that they expect issues with this model too?

    https://www.apple.com/support/keyboard-service-program-for-mac-notebooks/


  • Reply 11 of 12
    croprcropr Posts: 944member
    chasm said:
    The new keyboards (not really that new anymore ...) work fine for the vast majority of owners, especially the ones who aren’t slobs who eat/drink over their computers (but of course this was also a huge factor with all the previous keyboards, on any portable from any maker).

    I know roughly 100 people with either MacBooks or recent MacBook Pros, and not one of them has had any issues. That is of course anecdotal and unscientific, but it lends credibility to the reports that a small percentage of owners (who are very understandably unhappy, I’m not dismissing their problem or frustration) are affected by this. AI’s own tracking of this problem through repair shops proves Apple’s claims about that correct. I’m glad to hear that despite this, they a) took the problem seriously, b) studied the problem carefully, c) tried to mitigate the existing issue with free repairs, and d) seem to have now arrived at a solution that works better. They’re offering free repairs for all the affected machines and hopefully the new solution will work.

    This process takes longer than anyone would like, but it’s the right thing to do. We’re not going back to thick keyboards — indeed I wonder how long laptop will even have physical keyboards — and once Apple has a solution that really holds up, you can safely expect the rest of the industry to quickly copy them ... just as they did with the “chiclet” keyboard Apple pioneered.
    Last year I was contracted for a 6 months consulting mission at a small  IT software company (about 80 people), which only used MacbookPro's .  Of the 40 MacbookPro with butterfly keyboards they had bought at that time, 2 machines had the famous keyboard issue.   Your statistics are as good as mine.  Next to mentioned issue, most of the employees preferred the old Macbook Pro keyboard, which was described as more pleasant to work with.

    If Apple comes up with a great innovation, it is rapidly copied/cloned by some others in the industry.  The fact that nobody is interested to make his own butterfly keyboard, is perhaps the best prove that this keyboard is not that great after all
  • Reply 12 of 12
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,220member
    danvm said:
    Why would Apple already include the 2019 Macbook Pro's in the program?  Does it means that they expect issues with this model too?
    And/or the reputation has now gotten tarnished enough, they have to do this to boost confidence that even if it is a dud, they'll take care of it.
    This kind of doubles my confidence that they have some long-term goal (ie: virtual keyboard) and they aren't going to back down on this no matter the cost.

    cropr said:
    Last year I was contracted for a 6 months consulting mission at a small  IT software company (about 80 people), which only used MacbookPro's .  Of the 40 MacbookPro with butterfly keyboards they had bought at that time, 2 machines had the famous keyboard issue.   Your statistics are as good as mine.  Next to mentioned issue, most of the employees preferred the old Macbook Pro keyboard, which was described as more pleasant to work with.
    When you say 2 with the issue... do you mean got bad enough they had to be repaired? Or, any issue whatsoever with typing?

    But, your last sentence seems to summarize in my exposure to people, like 95% of them. I only know like 3 people (via podcast, here on the forums, and in my personal circles... who actually like the keyboard). So, even if it were 100% reliable, it would still be a questionable choice to standardize on across your product lineup. So... see my comment above... 
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