FAQ: 2019 MacBook Pro & Apple's updated butterfly keyboard repair program

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited May 22
As you might expect, we're getting a lot of questions about the 2019 MacBook Pro. AppleInsider tackles a few of the issues, and tells you what you can expect when and if you buy one of the new machines.


When can I get one?

The new 2019 MacBook Pros are available to order now. Some configurations will start appearing in Apple stores by May 24.

But I just bought one!

That's okay! You still have a very nice computer. If you have bought one very recently, as in the last few weeks, talk to who you bought it from, about it and tell them that you want to buy the new machine instead. Apple in particular is very generous with terms of returns.

However, the three updates that the MacBook Pro has seen in a year isn't unwelcome. It is a return to what Apple used to do with frequent updates to the line as new processors became available, and is better overall for the "Pro" ecosystem.

Are there any changes to the body design?

No. The exterior of the 2019 MacBook Pro has remained unchanged since Apple implemented it back in 2016.

Why wasn't there a design refresh? It's overdue!

Apple in the past has updated the enclosures of its portable Macs in four-year windows. This is the fourth year of the current MacBook Pro design -- that began in 2016, and continued through 2017, 2018, and now 2019.

This leaves the possibility that the next iteration at some point in 2020 will see a refresh. At present, we haven't seen any enclosure leaks, like we did prior to the 2016 model yet.

Are there any upgrades that I can do to the new MacBook Pro myself?

No. Buy what you need from the start. Nothing is slotted, and everything is soldered.

Does the new MacBook Pro thermal throttle?

Keep in mind that this is a complicated, and loaded, topic. By definition, every Intel processor with a burst speed "throttles." It will operate at a frequency higher than the rated, steady-state, frequency for as long as it can, until it slows down to maintain thermal equilibrium based on a number of factors, primarily thermal constraints.

Historically, when Apple released the 2018 MacBook Pro line just after the 2018 WWDC, the i9 configuration was slowing down below the rated speed. It became ridiculously known as "thermalgate," and was quickly acknowledged by Apple as a bug in "fingerprinting." A patch was issued to rectify the matter.

AppleInsider was one of the first to test the situation. A second volley of testing confirmed that Apple's patch did prevent the machine slowing down below rated speed, although it doesn't maintain the full Turbo speed for very long.

What we aren't expecting is for it to drop below the rated speed. In continued testing, the 2018 i9 MacBook Pro with Radeon 560x GPU maintains a speed about 200 MHz over the rated speed, and the i9 with Vega graphics stays about 300 MHz over rated.

We'll be examining the new eight-core MacBook Pro in a similar vein.

Can I use the USB-C iPad Pro as an external monitor for the MacBook Pro?

This is more about the iPad Pro than the MacBook Pro, but let's address it anyway.

Right now, as of May 22, 2019, you can't plug in a USB-C to USB-C cable with no other software to do so. USB-C to DisplayPort or HDMI is a specific "alternate mode" negotiation, and it would require additional software at a minimum to allow this.

There are always software options like Duet Display that benefits greatly from a high-speed wired connection like USB-C will provide, or wireless solutions like AstroPad's Luna Display, though, to do this.

But, there is some discussion that ability this may be coming soon.

Will the 2018 MacBook Pros drop in price?

Yes. We've already stared seeing notably lower pricing on the previous generation models, from vendors trying to "clear the decks" of the old models before the new ones arrive.

How has the keyboard changed?

The third generation butterfly switch keyboard acquired a new silicone membrane in 2018. Apple never made any claims about enhanced reliability between the second generation and third -- which is good, because we aren't seeing any substantial improvement in reliability between the second and third generation keyboards.

For this generation of keyboard, Apple says that they kept the same overall design but replaced the material under the key caps as to further prevent debris from lodging in there, and causing the malfunctions customers were experiencing. At present, it isn't clear if the company is referring to a new membrane, a new key dome, or both.

Does the fourth generation keyboard feel different to type on?

While we don't have the keyboard in hand right now, we have spoken to sources within Apple not authorized to speak for the company about the matter. They have told us that the keyboard feel is "very close" to the third-generation of the keyboard, and the key travel is identical.

What MacBook Pro models will Apple put the new keyboard in?

The new keyboard only fits in the 2018 MacBook Pro, and 2018 MacBook Air. The MacBook, and MacBook Pro models released earlier than 2018 will get the second generation keyboard mechanism -- which was better than the first generation found in the 2015 MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro.

What is Apple doing to make the process faster for the end user?

Apple didn't specifically address steps that they took on Tuesday. However, we've spoken to Apple about it, and they've said that there is a greater level of stock on-hand at most Genius Bar locations, and "enhanced training" for Geniuses in the repair bays has taken place.

While some, particularly problematic, machines in for service may still get shipped to the depot for repair, most are presently being done on location.

If you want to assist in this endeavor, make a Genius Bar appointment prior to going in, and don't just walk in to the store. It still isn't an instant repair, and if the keyboard requires replacement, the procedure is one of the more invasive ones that can be done on the machine without desoldering anything.

But what about...

We're still getting a lot of questions about the new machine. As we collect questions, and gather answers, we'll update accordingly.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    henrybayhenrybay Posts: 92member
    “The keyboard feel is "very close" to the third-generation of the keyboard, and the key travel is identical.”

    You’ve got to be kidding Apple! The ‘feel’ and ‘travel’ of the current keyboard are atrocious. How can you keep churning out the same terrible butterfly keyboard year after year? Are you completely deaf to the cries of despair about this keyboard? 

    We we want MORE TRAVEL on the keys, LESS DEBRIS under them, and a lot MORE TACTILE response when we press them. 

    We just want a keyboard the feels and operates like a normal keyboard. Not some ultra thin, lifeless facsimile of the real thing. Surely Apple, you can do this. You made great laptop keyboards for years - they felt great to type on, were reliable and we loved them. But these butterfly keyboards....no way!
  • Reply 2 of 21
    henrybay said:
    We just want ...
    I want that too, really, but the key thing to fix is the reliability first. That is the damaging part. Keyboard preferences in travel and tactile feel are incredibly subjective and it seems like most people are fluid with their preferences. Give them a week on almost any keyboard and they just adapt. I'm typing on a Logitech right now that I hated the feel of and forgot to return to the store. After my old keyboard bit the dust, I got it out and started using it. Within a week I could say it's not my favorite, but I've completely forgotten about it and I generally like it.

    Ultimately, a truly redesigned keyboard won't come until the whole enclosure is refreshed and apparently Apple is ready to do that, yet. The good news is that Apple has been releasing Pro updates quite regularly, now, which is one of the biggest indicators that the whole push back towards taking the Mac seriously and hiring pros to help them see their needs wasn't just big empty talk. The wait may not be too long, and meanwhile, these machines are good for most... if the reliability has been improved and the wait times are really much better for fixes.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    wandersowanderso Posts: 97member
    As a Mac owner dating first purchase back to 1992, I’ve held off on purchasing the current MacBook / Pro models until it is known that this problem is truly solved.  I’ve recommended the same for others.  The three prior generation MacBook Airs in our home have an excellent keyboard. Sometimes progress does not always equal “better”.   

    Will the new design truly make a difference and fully eliminate the problem? Time will tell. 

    A concern I have with the repair program is that one could see this problem crop up shortly after exceeding the 4 year mark from purchase date.  It’s too bad that one can’t just get it proactively replaced now - before the likely future failure.   Yes, 4 years is approaching obsolescence, but prior Mac hardware has typically demonstrated reliable longevity - well beyond 4 years.  For example, one of our Airs is 8 years old and still going strong.  


  • Reply 4 of 21
    thttht Posts: 3,209member
    By definition, every Intel processor with a burst speed "throttles."
    That’s a horrible definition.

    I think it is a much better idea to just use Intel’s terms for this. It’s only throttling if it goes below Intel’s advertised base frequency. It’s not throttling if it is doing what Intel is advertising it to do. 
    fastasleep
  • Reply 5 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,570administrator
    tht said:
    By definition, every Intel processor with a burst speed "throttles."
    That’s a horrible definition.

    I think it is a much better idea to just use Intel’s terms for this. It’s only throttling if it goes below Intel’s advertised base frequency. It’s not throttling if it is doing what Intel is advertising it to do. 
    We've used Intel's terms before. Yet, here we are again, and still.

    We get that heavy AI readers understand it. However, not everybody does, and this is, literally, how we get asked the question. And that's why the word "throttles" is in quotes.
  • Reply 6 of 21
    thttht Posts: 3,209member
    tht said:
    By definition, every Intel processor with a burst speed "throttles."
    That’s a horrible definition.

    I think it is a much better idea to just use Intel’s terms for this. It’s only throttling if it goes below Intel’s advertised base frequency. It’s not throttling if it is doing what Intel is advertising it to do. 
    We've used Intel's terms before. Yet, here we are again, and still.

    We get that heavy AI readers understand it. However, not everybody does, and this is, literally, how we get asked the question. And that's why the word "throttles" is in quotes.
    You don’t have to use the word whatsoever to make clear what the chips are doing. Taking the shortcut only adds confusion. 

    Heck, the thing with the 2018 MBP models last July wasn’t throttling, and you are misinforming people whenever you use the word throttle. The systems were managing the CPU improperly due to a software configuration issue, and Apple issued a fix.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 7 of 21
    LatkoLatko Posts: 382member
    The problem with Apple is that they’re too stubborn to remedy principal issues: 1. Thin design doesn’t support cooling necessary for the performance 2. Keyboard is soo intrinsically bad that it can’t be remedied It will require replacements for Ive, Schiller and Cook - who had enough chances and can’t be tolerated any longer.
    edited May 22
  • Reply 8 of 21
    RajkaRajka Posts: 4member
    An extended keyboard repair program is tacit admission from Apple that it has failed. Anything less than an entirely new keyboard design with much greater reliability and better feel is the only solution. Yet Apple has not done so. There you go folks. This is what Apple 3.0 under Cook looks like. Too little. Too corporate.
  • Reply 9 of 21
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 136member

    But I just bought one!

    That's okay! You still have a very nice computer. 


    I bought a top of the line 13" i7 last summer. Mine is a 2.7 GHz (boost to 4.5 GHz). It is replaced this year by a 2.8 GHz i7 with boost to 4.7 GHz. They both have the same intel integrated GPU. So for the same price, you get a 3.7% CPU clock speed improvement (4.4% boost). Hardly something to lose any sleep over. And my keyboard is fine. I actually like the shallow travel.
  • Reply 10 of 21
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,708member
    Rajka said:
    An extended keyboard repair program is tacit admission from Apple that it has failed. 
    I disagree. This is a classic case of damned in you do, damned if you don't.

    Public awareness of and sensitivity to the issue of keyboard failures is obviously very high. It's to the point where it's more than a service issue for Apple, it's a public relations matter. Apple is addressing this by demonstrating its confidence in and support of the product by extended the warranty.

    Imagine the response if Apple had NOT responded with a promise to make good on failures!
    edited May 22
  • Reply 11 of 21
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,708member

    What MacBook Pro models will Apple put the new keyboard in?

    The new keyboard only fits in the 2018 MacBook Pro, and 2018 MacBook Air. The MacBook, and MacBook Pro models released earlier than 2018 will get the second generation keyboard mechanism -- which was better than the first generation found in the 2015 MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro.
    @"Mike Wuerthele" : Just to make sure I'm understanding this correctly, are you saying that if I take in my 2016 MacBook Pro for repair of the first-generation keyboard it will be replaced with a second generation keyboard?
    edited May 22
  • Reply 12 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,570administrator

    What MacBook Pro models will Apple put the new keyboard in?

    The new keyboard only fits in the 2018 MacBook Pro, and 2018 MacBook Air. The MacBook, and MacBook Pro models released earlier than 2018 will get the second generation keyboard mechanism -- which was better than the first generation found in the 2015 MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro.
    @"Mike Wuerthele" : Just to make sure I'm understanding this correctly, are you saying that if I take in my 2016 MacBook Pro for repair of the first-generation keyboard it will be replaced with a second generation keyboard?
    That is correct. That’s been the case for some time.
    lorin schultz
  • Reply 13 of 21
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,838member

    For this generation of keyboard, Apple says that they kept the same overall design but replaced the material under the key caps as to further prevent debris from lodging in there, and causing the malfunctions customers were experiencing. At present, it isn't clear if the company is referring to a new membrane, a new key dome, or both.
    Did they say the change in material was specifically to “prevent debris from lodging in there”? That’s the first I’ve seen this, just wondering if that’s what they actually said or speculation.
  • Reply 14 of 21
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,838member

    henrybay said:

    You’ve got to be kidding Apple! The ‘feel’ and ‘travel’ of the current keyboard are atrocious. How can you keep churning out the same terrible butterfly keyboard year after year? Are you completely deaf to the cries of despair about this keyboard? 

    We we want MORE TRAVEL on the keys, LESS DEBRIS under them, and a lot MORE TACTILE response when we press them. 

    We just want a keyboard the feels and operates like a normal keyboard. Not some ultra thin, lifeless facsimile of the real thing. Surely Apple, you can do this. You made great laptop keyboards for years - they felt great to type on, were reliable and we loved them. But these butterfly keyboards....no way!
    If anyone from Apple is reading this, I just want to cancel this opinion out with my own: I love the new keyboard.

    There’s no such thing as a “normal keyboard”. 

    I honestly don’t understand why people say there’s no “tactile response”. I can feel the keys moving and clicking under my fingers.  Feels fine, adjusted my typing style in a matter of days if not hours and have no problems. People hurting themselves are not taking the time to adjust their behavior, and that’s on them. 
    tht
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,570administrator

    henrybay said:

    You’ve got to be kidding Apple! The ‘feel’ and ‘travel’ of the current keyboard are atrocious. How can you keep churning out the same terrible butterfly keyboard year after year? Are you completely deaf to the cries of despair about this keyboard? 

    We we want MORE TRAVEL on the keys, LESS DEBRIS under them, and a lot MORE TACTILE response when we press them. 

    We just want a keyboard the feels and operates like a normal keyboard. Not some ultra thin, lifeless facsimile of the real thing. Surely Apple, you can do this. You made great laptop keyboards for years - they felt great to type on, were reliable and we loved them. But these butterfly keyboards....no way!
    If anyone from Apple is reading this, I just want to cancel this opinion out with my own: I love the new keyboard.

    There’s no such thing as a “normal keyboard”. 

    I honestly don’t understand why people say there’s no “tactile response”. I can feel the keys moving and clicking under my fingers.  Feels fine, adjusted my typing style in a matter of days if not hours and have no problems. People hurting themselves are not taking the time to adjust their behavior, and that’s on them. 
    FWIW, I like it too. And, the keyboard on my 2012 RMBP failed dramatically.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 16 of 21
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,708member

    henrybay said:

    You’ve got to be kidding Apple! The ‘feel’ and ‘travel’ of the current keyboard are atrocious. How can you keep churning out the same terrible butterfly keyboard year after year? Are you completely deaf to the cries of despair about this keyboard? 

    We we want MORE TRAVEL on the keys, LESS DEBRIS under them, and a lot MORE TACTILE response when we press them. 

    We just want a keyboard the feels and operates like a normal keyboard. Not some ultra thin, lifeless facsimile of the real thing. Surely Apple, you can do this. You made great laptop keyboards for years - they felt great to type on, were reliable and we loved them. But these butterfly keyboards....no way!
    If anyone from Apple is reading this, I just want to cancel this opinion out with my own: I love the new keyboard.

    There’s no such thing as a “normal keyboard”. 

    I honestly don’t understand why people say there’s no “tactile response”. I can feel the keys moving and clicking under my fingers.  Feels fine, adjusted my typing style in a matter of days if not hours and have no problems. People hurting themselves are not taking the time to adjust their behavior, and that’s on them. 
    I never had any trouble with the feel of the keyboard, but noticed I make a lot more typing mistakes on it than I did on my last machine. After using my wife's 2012 for a bit, I think I've figured out why.

    The keys themselves are much larger than previous models. That makes it a lot easier to hit an adjacent key either instead of or in addition to the intended target if, like me, your aim is a little dodgy. On the old keyboard there's more empty space between keys, which is more forgiving of klutzy typing.

    I'd advocate for a return to the old style, but the new one looks so much better! After owning this one, my wife's keyboard looks like the equivalent of what a smile would look like if all the teeth had gaps between them! I really like the appearance of the new design, for whatever that's worth (he says while shrinking away into the shadows after realizing he's endorsing form over function...)
  • Reply 17 of 21
    danvmdanvm Posts: 753member

    henrybay said:

    You’ve got to be kidding Apple! The ‘feel’ and ‘travel’ of the current keyboard are atrocious. How can you keep churning out the same terrible butterfly keyboard year after year? Are you completely deaf to the cries of despair about this keyboard? 

    We we want MORE TRAVEL on the keys, LESS DEBRIS under them, and a lot MORE TACTILE response when we press them. 

    We just want a keyboard the feels and operates like a normal keyboard. Not some ultra thin, lifeless facsimile of the real thing. Surely Apple, you can do this. You made great laptop keyboards for years - they felt great to type on, were reliable and we loved them. But these butterfly keyboards....no way!
    If anyone from Apple is reading this, I just want to cancel this opinion out with my own: I love the new keyboard.

    There’s no such thing as a “normal keyboard”. 

    I honestly don’t understand why people say there’s no “tactile response”. I can feel the keys moving and clicking under my fingers.  Feels fine, adjusted my typing style in a matter of days if not hours and have no problems. People hurting themselves are not taking the time to adjust their behavior, and that’s on them. 
    Because of my line of work, I have to work most of the time with Thinkpads, and they are far better than my MBP 2017 keybooard.  If you only work with Apple notebooks you won't see the difference.  I don't get why you had to adapt in days or hours to a keyboard if it's good.  You shouldn't need to adapt or get used to a keyboard if it offers a good / excellent experience.  And that's something Macbooks are missing for the last few years.   
  • Reply 18 of 21
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,838member
    danvm said:

    henrybay said:

    You’ve got to be kidding Apple! The ‘feel’ and ‘travel’ of the current keyboard are atrocious. How can you keep churning out the same terrible butterfly keyboard year after year? Are you completely deaf to the cries of despair about this keyboard? 

    We we want MORE TRAVEL on the keys, LESS DEBRIS under them, and a lot MORE TACTILE response when we press them. 

    We just want a keyboard the feels and operates like a normal keyboard. Not some ultra thin, lifeless facsimile of the real thing. Surely Apple, you can do this. You made great laptop keyboards for years - they felt great to type on, were reliable and we loved them. But these butterfly keyboards....no way!
    If anyone from Apple is reading this, I just want to cancel this opinion out with my own: I love the new keyboard.

    There’s no such thing as a “normal keyboard”. 

    I honestly don’t understand why people say there’s no “tactile response”. I can feel the keys moving and clicking under my fingers.  Feels fine, adjusted my typing style in a matter of days if not hours and have no problems. People hurting themselves are not taking the time to adjust their behavior, and that’s on them. 
    Because of my line of work, I have to work most of the time with Thinkpads, and they are far better than my MBP 2017 keybooard.  If you only work with Apple notebooks you won't see the difference.  I don't get why you had to adapt in days or hours to a keyboard if it's good.  You shouldn't need to adapt or get used to a keyboard if it offers a good / excellent experience.  And that's something Macbooks are missing for the last few years.   
    I just mean I started typing softer and in a “flatter” manner, if that makes sense, in the same way I don’t type the same on my iPad screen, but not nearly as drastic of course. I just meant it felt completely natural after a small period of getting used to it, not that it was difficult or anything. Not sure why that doesn’t make sense to you.

    I’m specifically referring to people complaining our how sore their fingers are after using it, which could only mean they’re hitting the keys much harder than necessary (and I wonder if this might be a factor in failures).

    ”Far better” is your opinion. Some people still prefer Apple Extended II style keyboards. I do not. 
    edited May 23
  • Reply 19 of 21
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,838member

    henrybay said:

    You’ve got to be kidding Apple! The ‘feel’ and ‘travel’ of the current keyboard are atrocious. How can you keep churning out the same terrible butterfly keyboard year after year? Are you completely deaf to the cries of despair about this keyboard? 

    We we want MORE TRAVEL on the keys, LESS DEBRIS under them, and a lot MORE TACTILE response when we press them. 

    We just want a keyboard the feels and operates like a normal keyboard. Not some ultra thin, lifeless facsimile of the real thing. Surely Apple, you can do this. You made great laptop keyboards for years - they felt great to type on, were reliable and we loved them. But these butterfly keyboards....no way!
    If anyone from Apple is reading this, I just want to cancel this opinion out with my own: I love the new keyboard.

    There’s no such thing as a “normal keyboard”. 

    I honestly don’t understand why people say there’s no “tactile response”. I can feel the keys moving and clicking under my fingers.  Feels fine, adjusted my typing style in a matter of days if not hours and have no problems. People hurting themselves are not taking the time to adjust their behavior, and that’s on them. 
    I never had any trouble with the feel of the keyboard, but noticed I make a lot more typing mistakes on it than I did on my last machine. After using my wife's 2012 for a bit, I think I've figured out why.

    The keys themselves are much larger than previous models. That makes it a lot easier to hit an adjacent key either instead of or in addition to the intended target if, like me, your aim is a little dodgy. On the old keyboard there's more empty space between keys, which is more forgiving of klutzy typing.

    I'd advocate for a return to the old style, but the new one looks so much better! After owning this one, my wife's keyboard looks like the equivalent of what a smile would look like if all the teeth had gaps between them! I really like the appearance of the new design, for whatever that's worth (he says while shrinking away into the shadows after realizing he's endorsing form over function...)
    Also a small part of the move to a completely flat/virtual control surface IMHO. 
  • Reply 20 of 21
    danvmdanvm Posts: 753member
    danvm said:

    henrybay said:

    You’ve got to be kidding Apple! The ‘feel’ and ‘travel’ of the current keyboard are atrocious. How can you keep churning out the same terrible butterfly keyboard year after year? Are you completely deaf to the cries of despair about this keyboard? 

    We we want MORE TRAVEL on the keys, LESS DEBRIS under them, and a lot MORE TACTILE response when we press them. 

    We just want a keyboard the feels and operates like a normal keyboard. Not some ultra thin, lifeless facsimile of the real thing. Surely Apple, you can do this. You made great laptop keyboards for years - they felt great to type on, were reliable and we loved them. But these butterfly keyboards....no way!
    If anyone from Apple is reading this, I just want to cancel this opinion out with my own: I love the new keyboard.

    There’s no such thing as a “normal keyboard”. 

    I honestly don’t understand why people say there’s no “tactile response”. I can feel the keys moving and clicking under my fingers.  Feels fine, adjusted my typing style in a matter of days if not hours and have no problems. People hurting themselves are not taking the time to adjust their behavior, and that’s on them. 
    Because of my line of work, I have to work most of the time with Thinkpads, and they are far better than my MBP 2017 keybooard.  If you only work with Apple notebooks you won't see the difference.  I don't get why you had to adapt in days or hours to a keyboard if it's good.  You shouldn't need to adapt or get used to a keyboard if it offers a good / excellent experience.  And that's something Macbooks are missing for the last few years.   
    I just mean I started typing softer and in a “flatter” manner, if that makes sense, in the same way I don’t type the same on my iPad screen, but not nearly as drastic of course. I just meant it felt completely natural after a small period of getting used to it, not that it was difficult or anything. Not sure why that doesn’t make sense to you.

    I’m specifically referring to people complaining our how sore their fingers are after using it, which could only mean they’re hitting the keys much harder than necessary (and I wonder if this might be a factor in failures).

    ”Far better” is your opinion. Some people still prefer Apple Extended II style keyboards. I do not. 
    My point is that I didn't had to adapt to my old Macbook Pro or customers Thinkpad notebooks.  I get used to my MBP 2017, but it's easy to see how better other keyboards are.  

    Yes, "far better" is my opinion, but it looks like it's a popular one since Apple change to butterfly keyboards.  


Sign In or Register to comment.