Apple’s butterfly keyboard has certainly not been its best design decision. The company could be planning to ditch it altogether as it has been riddled with issues. Or that’s what Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes.
In the latest report (via MacRumour), Kuo reveals that Apple will roll out a new keyboard design based on scissor switches in the 2019 MacBook Air, and the same will also be featured in the 2020 MacBook Pro. The scissor-switch keyboard offers durability and longer key travel, unlike the present-generation fault-prone butterfly keyboard. This is the same keyboard mechanism that was present in all pre-2015 MacBooks and was quite well-received by the MacBook users back then.
“There have been successful developments in the new scissor keyboard. The new keyboard could improve the typing experience by offering longer key travel and durability by adopting glass fiber to reinforce the keys’ structure,” Kuo writes.
The scissor-switch keyboard is defined as the mechanism in which the “keys are attached to the keyboard via two plastic pieces that interlock in a “scissor”-like fashion, and snap to the keyboard and the key”.
Kuo says that Apple’s butterfly design was expensive to manufacture due to low yields. Though the new keyboard is still expected to cost more than an average laptop keyboard, it should be cheaper than the butterfly components.
He also believes that in short term, users may not realise a lot of difference between the scissor switch and the butterfly keyboard, however, in the longer run, the new keyboard will offer a better user experience. The butterfly keyboard will eventually be replaced from the entire line up.
“Though the butterfly keyboard is still thinner than the new scissor keyboard, we think most users can’t tell the difference. Furthermore, the new scissor keyboard could offer better user experience and benefit Apple’s profits; therefore, we predict that the butterfly keyboard may finally disappear in the long term,” Kuo says.
Introduced in 2015 with the 12-inch MacBook, Apple Butterfly switch keyboard was meant to offer a great typing experience while maintaining an ultra-slim profile. The holy grail, so to speak, of the laptop keyboard. It fell far short of that ideal. The keyboard design was comically sensitive to dust, with even the slightest particle causing keys to jam.
After months, and possibly years, of pretending that nothing was wrong, earlier this year, Apple finally acknowledged that the keyboard on its new MacBooks and MacBook Pros were defective.
Apple introduced a repair program for the laptops where it replaced the current keyboard with an “improved” butterfly keyboard, but that only included the latest generation of MacBooks and the 2018 MacBooks. The 2017 and older models will still get the defective second-generation keyboard as a replacement.