2015 Macbook Air keyboard and trackpad issues

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
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44
Hi All! I just purchased a used 2015 Macbook Air i7/8gb/512 and am amazed at how much quicker it feels than my 2011 i5/4gb. Well worth the upgrade!

While the performance feels quite good, there are two things about the 2015 that I definitely don't like as much as my 2011 - the keyboard doesn't feel as good and the trackpad is pretty hard to click (and uneven).

The keyboard - the keys seem a little stiffer than the 2011, they "wobble" more and they make more noise. One of the things I liked most about my 2011 was the keyboard - very little noise and just the right amount of pressure with the keys feeling very stable - my favorite keyboard I've ever typed on. The 2015 is definitely not as good. Did keyboards change along the product line or were there two different manufacturers? I'd love to get that old keyboard feel back if I could, but I'm more curious.

The trackpad definitely doesn't feel "right" as the hardness of the click depends on where along the bottom of the trackpad you're clicking. On the left side a moderate amount of pressure is needed to click but on the right side, much more is (more than it should be). My 2011 was even across the whole bottom and was easier to click in general. The previous owner told me that he replaced the battery in this machine as the old one "wouldn't charge anymore" so I'm wondering if that has something to do with it. I have turned on tap to click so it's not a huge deal, but something I'd like to remedy if possible.

Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
Okay, so I took the bottom case off and found that the battery installed doesn't quite look OEM. I then tried the trackpad with the bottom case off and it clicks normally. So that must be the trackpad problem...

I noticed that the battery has these plastic "covers" over the packs that looked a little weird. I wonder if peeling those off would create some space.
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
Post a picture of the battery?
I will when I get home. I'm planning on taking the bottom off and removing the battery tonight so I'll take some photos. Coconut Battery says its a Simplo manufactured a couple of months ago. The fit just doesn't seem quite right. I'll report back.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 68020
Aug 20, 2015
2,323
3,079
I replaced the battery in my Air a few months ago. It went great but there was a subtle change in trackpad feel. Unfortunately the tolerances are just so close in there that a little variation with the battery seems to be able to throw things off.
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
I had a simplo battery in a mid-2012 13" Pro and it was quite good.
Good to know. It seems that Apple used them for a long time (not sure if they do any more).

I replaced the battery in my Air a few months ago. It went great but there was a subtle change in trackpad feel. Unfortunately the tolerances are just so close in there that a little variation with the battery seems to be able to throw things off.
Yeah, I was afraid of that. I wonder if the same is true with the keyboard?
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
Okay, here are the photos of the battery. I did notice that after I took it out the trackpad felt much better (especially after I adjusted it) and the keyboard felt better as well.

There are the black plastic covers that are on top of each of the cells - should I peel those off? I'm not sure that would create more space or not. Otherwise, it seems as if the battery might just be too large. What do you think?





 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
If it works without the battery in place and you think you can remove the pass without damaging the battery, I would do it if it were my MacBook.
It turns out that those pieces of plastic take a bit of force to come off due to the adhesive, so I'm guessing they're not meant to. Bummer, but I'm not sure they would have helped anyway.
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
So the keyboard is much more "clacky" on my 2015 than on my 2011 for some reason. The keys are also slightly harder to press. I'm guessing the clackyness isn't due to the battery size, but something else. Check this video (which doesn't quite do the difference in sound justice):


I know it's a small thing and a lot of people will think I'm crazy, but it's just not as enjoyable to type on. I'm wondering if it's just my 2015 Air, or if all 2015 Airs are like this. I have a feeling it might just be mine.

I also found out that the battery the previous owner put in was $23 on ebay and that the casing that the modules are surrounded by is not quite the same shape (doesn't have the rounded edges to account for the shape of the case). It holds a charge just fine though, but I find myself wanting to try a different battery with the correct case to see if that helps things along. I'd feel slightly silly replacing a perfectly "good" battery, but I might just do it anyway. Which battery to get though - one from the Apple store is the right answer, but I'm not sure I can justify spending $129 to replace a perfectly "good" battery.
 
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Audit13

macrumors 601
Apr 19, 2017
4,370
1,096
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Try out the keyboard on the 2017 Air and compare the feel to your existing keyboard. This will give you a good idea as to whether the existing keyboard is radically different.

I have used third-party batteries from Amazon with good results and they were much cheaper that the Apple OEM batteries. I've read dire warnings about using such batteries but I have been 100% satisfied with the performance and price.
 

phunigai

Suspended
Nov 12, 2018
193
187
I took a quick glance at the middle photo and i realized the middle screw in the battery should be deeper, could be the wrong one. this might impead the trackpad resistance and keyboard feel i did this to death this summer/autumn
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
I took a quick glance at the middle photo and i realized the middle screw in the battery should be deeper, could be the wrong one. this might impead the trackpad resistance and keyboard feel i did this to death this summer/autumn
Interesting. What did you do to death this summer/autumn? Adjust the battery for keyboard feel? I'd love to hear your experience.
[doublepost=1542212182][/doublepost]
Try out the keyboard on the 2017 Air and compare the feel to your existing keyboard. This will give you a good idea as to whether the existing keyboard is radically different.

I have used third-party batteries from Amazon with good results and they were much cheaper that the Apple OEM batteries. I've read dire warnings about using such batteries but I have been 100% satisfied with the performance and price.
Yeah, I'm planning on heading to an Apple store this weekend to check one out.

I know that cheaper batteries can be good, but the case of the one in here is very obviously not shaped right. It might not change anything that much, but I bet its doing something.
 

phunigai

Suspended
Nov 12, 2018
193
187
motherboard issues. ssd swamping and i forgot the other reason. no one should go through what i did in September with the ipod red circle to frozen trackpad, usb and keyboard on the MBA , i might replace the logic board on the MBA this week, why?
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
motherboard issues. ssd swamping and i forgot the other reason. no one should go through what i did in September with the ipod red circle to frozen trackpad, usb and keyboard on the MBA , i might replace the logic board on the MBA this week, why?
What specifically was the keyboard problem you had on your air?
 

phunigai

Suspended
Nov 12, 2018
193
187
The Q to O does not tpye because somhow, my cat knocked down the MBA, which defected the logic board.
so switched logic boards everything worked, until the next day track pad, keyboard and usb were unfunctionable. I have the cat logic board in now and use an ipod touch 2010 to tpye.
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
So I put the battery from my 2011 Air into the 2015 Air (but didn't hook it up) to see what it would do. It definitely improved the trackpad feel and I think it helped the keyboard along a little as well (although it still wasn't as good as my other one).

I tried a 2017 Air keyboard in the store this weekend and weirdly it seemed somewhere in between my 2011 and 2015. Not as good as the 2011, but a little better than the 2015.

Not sure what to do really as I got the 2015 for a GREAT deal (this could be part of the reason why) but I don't enjoy typing on it as much. Perhaps I'll just keep it and keep my eye out for another 2015/i7/8gb/512 and snatch it up if its a good deal.
 

smbu2000

macrumors regular
Oct 19, 2014
245
103
Could it be that your 2011 is just more broken in compared to the 2015 keyboard. I would assume so since it has been in use for longer.

Anyway, I have two 13" 2015 MBAs on me at the moment. One is a base model 1.6 i5/4GB/128 model and the other is a 2.2 i7/8GB/512 model. The i7 one is from just after release 04/2015 and the base model is from early 2016 I believe. The keyboard on the older i7 model is slightly mushier and the base model keyboard is a bit stiffer. I'm pretty sure the i7 model has seen more usage.

Both trackpads seem roughly about the same, although they do both have original Apple batteries in them. The i7 battery was at 260ish cycles and the base battery was at 50ish cycles. I swapped the batteries over and now the i7 has the battery with the lower cycle count.

I also have a broken 2013 13" MBA and the keyboard on that one feels in between the two 2015 models in regards to stiffness. I can't test out the trackpad as it is shattered.
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
Could it be that your 2011 is just more broken in compared to the 2015 keyboard. I would assume so since it has been in use for longer.

Anyway, I have two 13" 2015 MBAs on me at the moment. One is a base model 1.6 i5/4GB/128 model and the other is a 2.2 i7/8GB/512 model. The i7 one is from just after release 04/2015 and the base model is from early 2016 I believe. The keyboard on the older i7 model is slightly mushier and the base model keyboard is a bit stiffer. I'm pretty sure the i7 model has seen more usage.

Both trackpads seem roughly about the same, although they do both have original Apple batteries in them. The i7 battery was at 260ish cycles and the base battery was at 50ish cycles. I swapped the batteries over and now the i7 has the battery with the lower cycle count.

I also have a broken 2013 13" MBA and the keyboard on that one feels in between the two 2015 models in regards to stiffness. I can't test out the trackpad as it is shattered.
Thanks for the reply. I suppose the 2011 could be broken in more, but I have a feeling that's not it. The 2015 keys make more noise than the 2011's and I don't see that getting quieter with use (although I could be wrong).

Its interesting that all your keyboards feel differently, you would think they'd be mostly the same. As I discovered when trying to find a new key cap, there appear to be two different styles of at least how they key caps attach and I wonder if that could be part of it.

I don't really want to do this, but I think I'm actually going to sell the 2015 I just got an go in search of another one. Typing this on my 2011 reminds me how great this keyboard is.
 

smbu2000

macrumors regular
Oct 19, 2014
245
103
Thanks for the reply. I suppose the 2011 could be broken in more, but I have a feeling that's not it. The 2015 keys make more noise than the 2011's and I don't see that getting quieter with use (although I could be wrong).

Its interesting that all your keyboards feel differently, you would think they'd be mostly the same. As I discovered when trying to find a new key cap, there appear to be two different styles of at least how they key caps attach and I wonder if that could be part of it.

I don't really want to do this, but I think I'm actually going to sell the 2015 I just got an go in search of another one. Typing this on my 2011 reminds me how great this keyboard is.
I'm not sure why there is such a wide variance between them. The "2013" I listed was a little typo as it was a "2014" model.
The two 2015 models have different keyboard layouts, so maybe that has added a bit to the difference? The i7 model has a US keyboard layout and the base 2015 model has a Japanese (JIS) layout. The 2014 keyboard is also a US keyboard layout model, though.



Maybe they changed the keyboard style a bit when they shifted over to the newer style 2013-2017 MBAs? Are there different styles? I don't really see any differences of key top styles between the 2014 and 2015 models that I have.

I don't really think the keys sound that loud and they are very similar in sound compared to my Apple aluminum usb keyboard that I mainly use at home. I've also gotten used to the super noisy keys on my 2017 15" MBP, so the MBA is quiet compared to what I'm used to, heh.
 

smbu2000

macrumors regular
Oct 19, 2014
245
103
Well I was checking out some used stores around here and at one I saw they had a 2012 13" MBA. Anyway, I tried out the keyboard and it felt very nice! Much nicer (and quieter) than the ones on my other MBAs. After trying that out, I'm guessing that Apple must have changed something from the 2011/2012 and earlier? models compared to the 2013 and later models. All of the MBAs that I have feel roughly similar to each (stiffness not withstanding), but the 2012 model that I tested out felt nicer overall and quieter!
 

weezin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 20, 2012
168
44
I'm not sure why there is such a wide variance between them. The "2013" I listed was a little typo as it was a "2014" model.
The two 2015 models have different keyboard layouts, so maybe that has added a bit to the difference? The i7 model has a US keyboard layout and the base 2015 model has a Japanese (JIS) layout. The 2014 keyboard is also a US keyboard layout model, though.

Maybe they changed the keyboard style a bit when they shifted over to the newer style 2013-2017 MBAs? Are there different styles? I don't really see any differences of key top styles between the 2014 and 2015 models that I have.

I don't really think the keys sound that loud and they are very similar in sound compared to my Apple aluminum usb keyboard that I mainly use at home. I've also gotten used to the super noisy keys on my 2017 15" MBP, so the MBA is quiet compared to what I'm used to, heh.
Interesting. Based on your message and the one below, I think they may have switched something for the 2013 model year. That's too bad, as the 2011 I'm typing on now is perfect. Maybe I'll have to find a fully spec'd 2012 and just do with that for a while. 8gb of ram would go a long way I think.

Well I was checking out some used stores around here and at one I saw they had a 2012 13" MBA. Anyway, I tried out the keyboard and it felt very nice! Much nicer (and quieter) than the ones on my other MBAs. After trying that out, I'm guessing that Apple must have changed something from the 2011/2012 and earlier? models compared to the 2013 and later models. All of the MBAs that I have feel roughly similar to each (stiffness not withstanding), but the 2012 model that I tested out felt nicer overall and quieter!
Interesting! Yes, that might be true, I wonder if it is. Seems plausible to me as they changed several things when going to the 2013s. That's also a bummer, as I really wanted the 2013s for their battery life, but don't want to sacrifice the keyboard. Hmmm. Thanks for the report!
 

Sowelu

macrumors 6502
Aug 15, 2008
259
106
New York City
I picked up a new sealed 2015 11" MacBook Air (i7, 8GB, 512GB) from B&H last year (they had a few lingering maxed out models in stock). I wanted to buy the newest one available after Apple killed it.

I also have a 2011 11" MacBook Air, and I immediately noticed that the keyboard on the 2015 MBA was not as good as the one on the 2011. The keys do wobble a bit more, make a bit more noise to the touch just as you demonstrated, and they feel more hollow. The travel between the two is the same, but the spring-back/feedback beneath the fingers is not as solid as with the 2011 keyboard.

I also noticed a big difference with the trackpad between both machines. The one on the 2011 MBA is evenly seated and clicks are effortless throughout. The one on the 2015 was raised a bit to the left, and needed harder clicks than the clicks that were needed on the right hand side. Aside from the clicking problem, the trackpad would also rattle a bit while just using 'tap to click' - so it was also a bit loose. This was definitely annoying me.

By the way, my trackpad felt normal without the battery as well, but the seated battery actually helps support the trackpad and I believe that is intentional and part of the design. Same for the back cover of the MBA. You can't really test the trackpad (if adjusting the trackpad screw) unless you put the back cover back on and put a few screws in to see if it tightens up. It's trial and error.

So when I opened the bottom cover to install a new Samsung SSD (EVO 970 1TB), I decided to follow the iFixit Track Pad Repair Guide (for loose track pads) to see if there was anything obvious to the eye that would make it uneven (in addition to the loose rattle). Sure enough, when I got to the foam bits underneath the trackpad (to prevent rattling) I noticed that they weren't properly applied (one side had hardly any, the other side had an uneven application), so I followed this guide and fixed it myself.

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Air+13-Inch+Mid+2012:+loose+or+rattling+trackpad+repair/98227

I cleaned out the old foam bits, adhered new, even, clean foam bits on both sides (using 1mm foam tape - adhesive on one side), and now the trackpad is even seated, and has normal even clicking throughout. And best of all, now that there is proper padding underneath, it feels solid while tapping to click, no rattle or noise at all. There are quite a few tedious steps to follow, but if you have the proper tools and go slow, it's doable.

So, if I had to guess, Apple is using a different keyboard supplier for the more recent (now legacy) MacBook Airs, and there are (or were) factory production line issues while attaching the trackpads (which is fixable). And while there is no fix for the keyboard, as there is technically nothing wrong with it, I've gotten used to and it's still way better than most of the keyboards out there. Just not quite as good as the one in my 2011 MBA.
 
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