Does the Third-gen Butterfly Keyboard matter? (2017 rMB vs 2018 MBA)

kht410

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 4, 2016
25
9
Hey guys, I’m currently deciding between purchasing the 12” MacBook or the new MacBook Air.

I LOVE the form factor of the 12” MacBook and I’m not that interested in the perks of having the new MacBook air (ie: bigger screen, 720p webcam, two tb3 ports, touch id, slightly more power). Sure they’re nice, but the priority is portability as I already have an iMac at home to do the heavy lifting stuff.

The only thing that is holding me back from getting the 12” Macbook is the Second-gen butterfly keyboard vs the Third-gen in the new MacBook Air.

So for those who had experience in these butterfly keyboards, is the Third-gen butterfly keyboard a better buy than the Second-gen?
 
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niji

Contributor
Feb 9, 2003
1,464
1,169
tokyo
sorry i dont know the answer. its a great question. i have the same question...
and, yr analysis of the differences between the MacBook and the MacBook Air is really good.
for me too, its the portability of the MacBook that is most attractive.
 
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nburwell

macrumors 601
May 6, 2008
4,585
1,620
DE
I don't have any experience with the third gen butterfly keyboard. However, I've had the 2015 12" MB with the first gen butterfly keyboard, and now the 2017 MB with the second gen butterfly keyboard.

All in all the second gen blows the first gen out of the water. I would imagine there are some improvements that other members can speak to regarding the third gen butterfly keyboard. But again, I definitely like the improvements Apple mad between the first and second gen.
 
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kht410

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 4, 2016
25
9
I don't have any experience with the third gen butterfly keyboard. However, I've had the 2015 12" MB with the first gen butterfly keyboard, and now the 2017 MB with the second gen butterfly keyboard.

All in all the second gen blows the first gen out of the water. I would imagine there are some improvements that other members can speak to regarding the third gen butterfly keyboard. But again, I definitely like the improvements Apple mad between the first and second gen.
Ah that’s helpful. Thank you!

Also, how are you finding the battery life of your 2017 MB?
 

candorswim

macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2018
8
12
i am really liking the keyboard on the 2018 MBA, even compared to the second-gen it feels.... softer? idk.
 

jingo_man

macrumors newbie
Nov 11, 2018
17
6
I did some simple testing yesterday in-store, but it’s not exhaustive... Also, I am not a regular to any of the butterfly keyboards, and it seems there is a knack / style that isn’t 2nd nature to me (yet).

3rd gen was much nicer “feel”. I could make the sound quieter by typing with a little finesse. Typing on the MacBook’s 2nd gen was loud regardless.

The membrane cushioning also allows for a softer feel.

But both keyboards have the same size / footprint, and I think it’s mostly the transition to any butterfly style keyboard that I will notice most, Air or MB.

It’s a shame there isn’t a unified release for the laptop lines, so that they are based around the same standards... So for the MacBook:
  • I could live with 1 Thunderbolt 3 port
  • I would prefer 3rd gen keyboard
  • Ideally, every laptop would select from the same year’s processor family
  • And Apple’s customisations (I.e. T2 chip) would likewise be across the range
It would just minimise the variables and everyone would know the roadmap and make better decisions on large purchases. The iOS lines are a little more in sync, though there are an increasing number of products everywhere currently...
 
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EightyTwenty

macrumors 6502a
Mar 11, 2015
765
1,552
I've used all 3 generations of butterfly keyboards at Apple stores. My impressions:

1st gen: Sucks. Feels like typing on an iPad. No give whatsoever.

2nd gen: Way better than 1st gen. A major improvement.

3rd gen: Actually feels worse (more mushy) than 2nd gen, but should be more durable re: dust.
[doublepost=1542019342][/doublepost]
The membrane cushioning also allows for a softer feel.
You say "softer", while I say "mushy and unpleasant".
 
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newellj

macrumors 604
Oct 15, 2014
7,282
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East of Eden
I don't have any experience with the third gen butterfly keyboard. However, I've had the 2015 12" MB with the first gen butterfly keyboard, and now the 2017 MB with the second gen butterfly keyboard.

All in all the second gen blows the first gen out of the water. I would imagine there are some improvements that other members can speak to regarding the third gen butterfly keyboard. But again, I definitely like the improvements Apple mad between the first and second gen.
I completely agree with this. I bought and returned the 2015 rMB twice because I loved the form factor but found the first gen kb was actually unusable for me. No such problems with either the second gen or third gen versions, which I've actually come to prefer over the old chicklet kbs.
 

fokmik

macrumors 68040
Oct 28, 2016
3,796
3,088
USA
im on 3d gen right now..and it is an improvement over the 12" MB that i have at home
So, yes,IF you love the design and form factor you should definitely wait for the next Macbook with new cpu/igpu, 3d gen keyboard and why not better speakers and faster ssd and touchid
 

EugW

macrumors 604
Jun 18, 2017
7,309
4,691
FWIW, the good news is the 2nd gen MacBook keyboard has a 4-year warranty. The 3rd gen does not.

And yes in terms of feel 2nd gen is a vast, vast improvement over the 1st. IMO, the 1st gen is absolutely horrible. The 2nd gen is OK. Not great but OK. The 3rd gen is different. Some prefer the 2nd gen and some prefer the 3rd gen.
 

tromboneaholic

Suspended
Jun 9, 2004
3,710
2,925
Clearwater, FL
My wife has a 2017 MacBook, and she took a look at the 2018 MacBook Air at the Apple Store to compare. She said the new keyboard felt a little "rubbery" and didn't like the 3/4 pound weight difference. Good news for me, as it meant we didn't need to buy it and i could get a new iPad instead.
 
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Glockworkorange

macrumors 68000
Feb 10, 2015
1,997
3,180
Chicago, Illinois
Hey guys, I’m currently deciding between purchasing the 12” MacBook or the new MacBook Air.

I LOVE the form factor of the 12” MacBook and I’m not that interested in the perks of having the new MacBook air (ie: bigger screen, 720p webcam, two tb3 ports, touch id, slightly more power). Sure they’re nice, but the priority is portability as I already have an iMac at home to do the heavy lifting stuff.

The only thing that is holding me back from getting the 12” Macbook is the Second-gen butterfly keyboard vs the Third-gen in the new MacBook Air.

So for those who had experience in these butterfly keyboards, is the Third-gen butterfly keyboard a better buy than the Second-gen?
For me, third generation keyboard is markedly better.

I’ve owned A 2015 Macbook, a 2016 13 inch MB Pro and a 2017 15 inch MB Pro.

I now use a 2018 13 inch MBP. In my opinion, the difference with the keyboard is night and day.
 

scrappygolucky

macrumors member
Sep 15, 2018
39
55
Went in to the Apple store today to test keyboards. The keyboard on the 2018 Macbook Air felt much nicer than the one on the 2017 Macbook. Made me so annoyed as I really prefer the Macbook form factor and its lack of a fan.
 

johannnn

macrumors 65816
Nov 20, 2009
1,400
774
Sweden
It's not about which feels better. It's about the membrane which will save your keyboard from dust and breadcrumbs.
I'm eagerly awaiting MB with 3rd gen keyboard. No way I'll buy one without the membrane.
 

EugW

macrumors 604
Jun 18, 2017
7,309
4,691
It's not about which feels better. It's about the membrane which will save your keyboard from dust and breadcrumbs.
I'm eagerly awaiting MB with 3rd gen keyboard. No way I'll buy one without the membrane.
The problem is the overall keyboard design. The membrane seems more like a bandaid solution.

The other designs don't seem to be susceptible to this issue in the first place, and thus don't need this bandaid.
 
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effineji

macrumors member
Jun 12, 2017
31
12
Germany
Just had a little type on the MBA yesterday. I couldn't tell the difference! Definitely felt harder than the MBP keyboards which has way more travel. I could tell the difference between 1st gen MB keyboard and 2nd gen MB keyboard, but still feel they are very small differences.
 

Takerouw

macrumors newbie
Feb 10, 2019
9
0
I just curios about the new gold Macbook 12.
The model number for the now gold is retina Macbook 12 LATE 2018.
Not 2017 like the silver and space gray macbook..
Anyone knows if the gold one maybe have newer 3rd gen butterfly keyboard?
 

sunapple

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Jul 16, 2013
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The Netherlands

YaBe

macrumors 6502a
Oct 5, 2017
804
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So for those who had experience in these butterfly keyboards, is the Third-gen butterfly keyboard a better buy than the Second-gen?
They still fail, lower ratio probably, but still prone to issue.
 

Aston441

macrumors 65816
Sep 16, 2014
1,287
1,786
I've used all 3 generations of butterfly keyboards at Apple stores. My impressions:

1st gen: Sucks. Feels like typing on an iPad. No give whatsoever.

2nd gen: Way better than 1st gen. A major improvement.

3rd gen: Actually feels worse (more mushy) than 2nd gen, but should be more durable re: dust.
[doublepost=1542019342][/doublepost]

You say "softer", while I say "mushy and unpleasant".

Agree 100%.

I find 3rd gen physically painful. I'm not exactly sure why. It's something about how the key stops that causes pain in my knuckles, which doesn't happen to me with gen 1/2. Gen 1/2 "clack" down and it doesn't bother me at all. The mush at the bottom of Gen3 freaking hurts.
 
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AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
Oct 20, 2011
10,853
7,461
Austin, TX
It should definitely be more durable with dust. Most of the issues we have seen so far with the MBA keyboard are of a different nature (double letters for example). The "sticky keys" complaint has been less common so far but the device is still very new.
 

tuckerdogavl

macrumors newbie
Jan 13, 2009
21
1
Is there a model number one can get so they know for sure that the MBA they are purchasing has 3rd gen vs. 2nd? And, what's the "repair policy" on the 2nd if I decide to take my chances? Now that we know there's a problem ...


UPDATE: I did figure out model numbers but is the 3rd generation for the AIR under the same warranty as the 2nd gen for the MBP?
 
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