Apple may switch butterfly keyboard for scissor version in MacBook Air

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple will be making yet another change to its MacBook keyboard mechanism, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecasts, with a touted refresh of the MacBook Air for later in 2019 potentially switching out the butterfly mechanism for a more traditional scissor-based version.

MacBook Pro keyboard


A number of changes have been made to the butterfly keyboard mechanism used in the MacBook Pro and other models over the years, to answer complaints from consumers over sticking keys and other faults. According to TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple may be looking to shift away to a different mechanism entirely.

In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, Kuo suggests an upcoming refresh of the MacBook Air may adopt a scissor keyboard mechanism instead of a butterfly keyboard. Chief among the reasons for the change is that it should improve the keyboard user experience as "many users think that the typing experience is not good due to the ultra-low key travel of the butterfly keyboard," the analyst proposes.

The reduced probability of failure is also cited, due to the butterfly mechanism occasionally being jammed with dust, crumbs, and other debris. The issues are well documented, and even resulted in a keyboard service program being opened up to some models, as well as the introduction of a membrane to reduce dust ingress.

Kuo also suggests a switch away from butterfly will reduce costs, as a keyboard using the mechanism is between 250% and 350% higher in cost to produce than a general notebook keyboard due to low production yields.

There is also the argument that there have been developments in scissor keyboard production that could be attractive for Apple, such as the use of glass fiber to reinforce the keys structure. Even so, Kuo thinks a scissor keyboard would cost Apple between 150% and 250% more than a typical notebook keyboard, which would still potentially be a cost saving compared to butterfly.

The MacBook Pro will adopt the new keyboard in 2020, Kuo believes, and with the improvements to usability such as longer key travel and durability, it is predicted Apple could move to scissor mechanisms in the long term.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 112
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,141member
    Excellent news! I like the current Machines a lot but the keyboard issue has caused me to prefer iPads with separate keyboards.
  • Reply 2 of 112
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 593member
    Well, as long they’re not going back to the past then I’ll be fine.
    There are several things that’s great in the butterfly keyboard, dropping them won’t be a wise move:

    - more efficient and precise backlighting.
    - stable keys.
    - curve on keycaps are much noticeable.
    - more tactile (while having shorter travel).
    - overall smaller footprint, less parts to make.
    edited July 4 macplusplusJWSCAppleExposedrcfa
  • Reply 3 of 112
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,739member
    At the beginning of the article it says the change is predicted to be part of a 2019 refresh, but at the end it says the new keyboard will be adopted in 2020. Which is it? If it’s 2019 I may wait for it. If it’s next year I may not.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 112
    petripetri Posts: 66member
    My 2009 MBP keyboard is still perfect.  I won’t be replacing it with a butterfly model, so Apple had better hurry up.
    racerhomie3irelandLatkoMisterKitentropysdysamoria
  • Reply 5 of 112
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,699member
    Perhaps this is a continuation of Apple shifting away from sleek, minimalist design and towards functionality that we saw with the new MacPro?

    And, perhaps this shift had some connection (either cause or effect) with Ive's leaving?

    In any case, abandoning the flawed butterfly keyboard is long overdue.
    jdwMisterKitdysamoriarazorpit
  • Reply 6 of 112
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,968member
    If Apple made decision to move to non-butterfly keyboard than why wait? Do it in Fall 2019 Macbook Pro/Air upgrade when Intel's 10nm processors based upgrade is expected. Only reason it get pushed out to 2020 is because Apple is making major upgrade to MBA/MBP including moving to ARM.
    edited July 4
  • Reply 7 of 112
    At the beginning of the article it says the change is predicted to be part of a 2019 refresh, but at the end it says the new keyboard will be adopted in 2020. Which is it? If it’s 2019 I may wait for it. If it’s next year I may not.
    2019 for the MB Air refresh, and 2020 for the MB Pro. According to Mr. Kuo in the article...
    edited July 4 dysamoriarazorpit
  • Reply 8 of 112
    indiekidukindiekiduk Posts: 299member
    Hopefully they also put back in MagSafe and an escape key 
    MplsPraulcristiandjames4242pscooter63AI_liasGeorgeBMacdysamoriarazorpit
  • Reply 9 of 112
    majorslmajorsl Posts: 119unconfirmed, member
    Hopefully they also put back in MagSafe and an escape key 
    Agreed, I miss the MagSafe but am now liking the additional(?) TB3/USB-C port.  I think Apple did the right thing by going to that standard.  There are USB-C "MagSafe" adapters that have pretty good reviews.  I waffle between buying one and then deciding I don't need it.  If Apple did something like a recessed USB-C/MageSafe adapter so it would be flush, that would be interesting, but I doubt that'll happen.
    tyler82
  • Reply 10 of 112
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,934member
    Good news if it proves true. The butterfly mechanism has proven itself to be problematic and a time bomb which could start having issues at any moment due to particles slipping in.

    I hope they seperate it from the battery and top case too.
    GeorgeBMacdysamoriastevenoz
  • Reply 11 of 112
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 593member
    majorsl said:
    Hopefully they also put back in MagSafe and an escape key 
    Agreed, I miss the MagSafe but am now liking the additional(?) TB3/USB-C port.  I think Apple did the right thing by going to that standard.  There are USB-C "MagSafe" adapters that have pretty good reviews.  I waffle between buying one and then deciding I don't need it.  If Apple did something like a recessed USB-C/MageSafe adapter so it would be flush, that would be interesting, but I doubt that'll happen.

    https://snapnator.com/products/snapcable-magnetic-charging-cable-for-apple-macbook-ipad-pro-google-pixelbook-and-huawei-matebook

    What’s the problem for that?  It’s small, reversible and don’t take the bandwidth.  MagSafe is proprietary, clunky in comparison, and isn’t that reliable too.
    edited July 4 macplusplustadddysamoria
  • Reply 12 of 112
    nadrielnadriel Posts: 5member
    wood1208 said:
    If Apple made decision to move to non-butterfly keyboard than why wait. Do it in Fall 2019 Macbook Pro/Air upgrade. Anticipation, later in a year Intel's 10nm processors based upgrade is expected. Only reason it get pushed out to 2020 is because Apple is making major upgrade to MBA/MBP including moving to ARM.
    More likely. Keyboard switch will be with new design iteration, so with MBP likely next WWDC. MBA is late year baby so it might be this year and the basic MB has been long ignored. 10nm intel would be nice to have ASAP.

    Apple won’t be moving to ARM this year, next year or the year after that with Macs. Whatever geekbench tests give with ARM processors, they can’t really compete with x86_64 architecture with more complicated instruction sets, since geekbench very likely doesn’t do that complicated testing schemes. ARM processor with all the x86 instruction sets would be an x86 processor with different memory management...

    But it as always there are workarounds and with Apple’s resources they might get to ARM macs, but not next year. 
    macplusplusrazorpit
  • Reply 13 of 112
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,156member
    Excellent news! I like the current Machines a lot but the keyboard issue has caused me to prefer iPads with separate keyboards.
    It’s not news. It’s rumor and speculation. For some it’s wishful thinking. Bottom line it’s analyst prognosticating. 
    edited July 4 macpluspluswozwozAppleExposeddysamoriahammeroftruthFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 14 of 112
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,101member
    At the beginning of the article it says the change is predicted to be part of a 2019 refresh, but at the end it says the new keyboard will be adopted in 2020. Which is it? If it’s 2019 I may wait for it. If it’s next year I may not.

    Which is it? It’s Kuo spitballing. I’m sure it’s no accident this dropped on 4th of July long weekend.
    AppleExposedFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 15 of 112
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,101member
    Perhaps this is a continuation of Apple shifting away from sleek, minimalist design and towards functionality that we saw with the new MacPro?

    And, perhaps this shift had some connection (either cause or effect) with Ive's leaving?

    In any case, abandoning the flawed butterfly keyboard is long overdue.
    Ive was involved with the new Mac Pro. Whatever the next generation of laptops are it’s something Apple has been working on for a while. You don’t just pump out new designs in a matter of weeks or months.
    chiacanukstorm
  • Reply 16 of 112
    Truthful as that may be (Kuo have a good a track record as anyone we know), that would be extremely out of character for Apple. Not that it makes it a wrong decision in and on itself!
  • Reply 17 of 112
    LatkoLatko Posts: 398member
    Perhaps this is a continuation of Apple shifting away from sleek, minimalist design and towards functionality that we saw with the new MacPro?

    And, perhaps this shift had some connection (either cause or effect) with Ive's leaving?

    In any case, abandoning the flawed butterfly keyboard is long overdue.
    Ive was involved with the new Mac Pro. Whatever the next generation of laptops are it’s something Apple has been working on for a while. You don’t just pump out new designs in a matter of weeks or months.
    Stop talking Schiller spin. 
    Other manufacturers make design changes every other week
    jdw
  • Reply 18 of 112
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 868member
    Would a can of compressed air keyboard cleaner fix the dust and debris issue of the butterfly keyboard?

    i ask because I have one and I notice the space bar and right command key get sticky sometimes and it’s making me nervous. But I don’t want to damage the keyboard either. 
  • Reply 19 of 112
    So Apple, more or less will play more and less...
  • Reply 20 of 112
    henrybayhenrybay Posts: 101member
    Thank goodness!!!! It’s about time Apple reverted to keyboards that actually work and feel good (like they used to). 

    Let’s hope and pray that Apple finally ditches the horrible Butterfly keyboard forever! It has done so much damage to the reputation of MacBooks. 
    GeorgeBMacstevenoz
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