Lastgreen

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 19, 2017
85
11
Hello Everyone,
I was wondering what measures can be taken to prevent failure of the butterfly keys of the newer version macbooks and macbook pros. I wanted to know how long you've maintained your macbook/macbook pro keyboard and what you've done to maintain it! For those of you who have experienced keyboard failure i would also like to know what caused it to fail eg do you eat around your laptop frequently.
 

Sterkenburg

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2016
428
366
The only measure I'd personally recommend to take is to get some form of extended warranty (either with Apple Care or a through a credit card), because the repair can cost up to ~700 bucks.

There is no way afaik to tell what is the ultimate cause of failure. Heat and especially dirt seem to be critical factors, but the way keys start to act up seems really random. I regularly wipe/clean my keyboard with a microfiber cloth and compressed air, never let any food or drink within a 0.5m range from my computers, and generally keep my MBP in pristine condition, but I still ended up with several bad keys. Taking proper care of your machine obviously helps reducing the chance of problems, but you might just be plain unlucky and that's it.
 
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Lastgreen

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 19, 2017
85
11
The only measure I'd personally recommend to take is to get some form of extended warranty (either with Apple Care or a through a credit card), because the repair can cost up to ~700 bucks.

There is no way afaik to tell what is the ultimate cause of failure. Heat and especially dirt seem to be critical factors, but the way keys start to act up seems really random. I regularly wipe/clean my keyboard with a microfiber cloth and compressed air, never let any food or drink within a 0.5m range from my computers, and generally keep my MBP in pristine condition, but I still ended up with several bad keys. Taking proper care of your machine obviously helps reducing the chance of problems, but you might just be plain unlucky and that's it.
Wow you did all of that and still had issued with the keyboard... what did you do to solve the bad keys
 
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Naimfan

Suspended
Jan 15, 2003
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2,015
You can't.

Having been through a cleaning, two top case/keyboard replacements, and then an exchange, it's hard to believe it's just the keyboard - replacing it twice means that 3 keyboards failed in one machine (a 2016 15" 2.6/460/1 TB).
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
21,962
8,090
I doubt there is anything that the owner can do to prevent a keyboard from failing.

They fail because of bad design, which overlooked the amount of wear and tear that a keyboard would be subjected to by daily usage.

The new Apple keyboards seem to have been designed with a priority for "form" over long-term "function". It just had to be "slimmer", regardless of whether making it so would impact its durability.

And worse, the new design is so "integrated" into the topcase, that the keyboard itself cannot be replaced if it fails -- the ENTIRE TOPCASE must be replaced.

I wonder what this is costing Apple in terms of repairs and exchanges?
On units that are still in warranty or under AppleCare?
If these keyboards are failing already -- on relatively new units -- what is the long-term prognosis for their durability in the field?

How will Apple handle the anger from owners who bring in out-of-warranty MBPro's that need "keyboard" replacements -- and find their bill will be more than $700...?
 
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project_2501

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2017
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If lots of people started taking legal action against Apple - that might take them up from their arrogance and complacency.

I, myself, am taking legal action in a Small Claims Court - and part of the case will be that I don't want to be lumbered with such huge costs after the warranty is over, given the frequency of failure during the warranty period.
 
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maflynn

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Staff member
May 3, 2009
68,057
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Boston
I, myself, am taking legal action in a Small Claims Court - and part of the case will be that I don't want to be lumbered with such huge costs after the warranty is over, given the frequency of failure during the warranty period.
If Apple is continuing to fix the laptops, but will you accomplish by going to small claims? I'm curious in all honesty.
 
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project_2501

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2017
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If Apple is continuing to fix the laptops, but will you accomplish by going to small claims? I'm curious in all honesty.

The cost and inconvenience of repairs every 2-3 months because the repairs dont fix the root cause - bad design. The costs after end of warranty are unfair. Both of these are things consumers are protected from.

I'm claiming the cost of the laptop as apple won't refund.
 
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Sterkenburg

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2016
428
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Wow you did all of that and still had issued with the keyboard... what did you do to solve the bad keys
There is nothing I can do to solve it but ask for a replacement from Apple.

Unfortunately, this would entail replacing the whole top case (which is insane), and I'd have to stay without my main machine for several days, a bitter pill to swallow due to how much I depend on it for both my work and personal usage. I will probably give up and bring it to Apple so that I can get a repair before the warranty expires (which is very soon), but there is no guarantee that it will not fail again. I already had to get the machine swapped once earlier this year.

It's a bad design, I really hope Apple eventually come to their senses and
(1) improve the reliability in the next MBP refresh, even a silent fix is ok, I'm not asking for a public admission of fault as long as they get it working again. They can do it because they do know the issue exists.
(2) issue an extended free replacement program similar to that for 2011 MBP GPUs, because this issue is a freaking time bomb.
 
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ZapNZs

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2017
2,310
1,158
I would recommend ensuring your hands are relatively clean when using the keyboard, not eating over the computer, periodically hitting the keyboard with some compressed air, and, if one key all of a sudden becomes stiff, not pushing on it harder but rather removing the obstruction (as, from what I have observed, pressing harder seems to often cause permanent damage.) Ensuring one has some sort of longer term coverage isn't a bad idea either, IMO. (It's worth noting that, from what I have observed, some systems came in with keyboard issues where the system was in like-new condition...but quite a few came in quite dirty with clear signs that they had been eaten over.)

If you are buying the laptop for someone who has a tendency of eating over the laptop or is just relatively hard on laptops, IMO computers with the butterfly mechanism may not be a good match for their usage.
 
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project_2501

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2017
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I would recommend ensuring your hands are relatively clean when using the keyboard, not eating over the computer, periodically hitting the keyboard with some compressed air, and, if one key all of a sudden becomes stiff, not pushing on it harder but rather removing the obstruction (as, from what I have observed, pressing harder seems to often cause permanent damage.) Ensuring one has some sort of longer term coverage isn't a bad idea either, IMO. (It's worth noting that, from what I have observed, some systems came in with keyboard issues where the system was in like-new condition...but quite a few came in quite dirty with clear signs that they had been eaten over.)

If you are buying the laptop for someone who has a tendency of eating over the laptop or is just relatively hard on laptops, IMO computers with the butterfly mechanism may not be a good match for their usage.

Hilarious.

If it wasn't so tragic.
 
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va1984

macrumors regular
Jan 27, 2011
181
217
Do we have any sense of how frequent these keyboard failures are? Like, what percentage of post 2015 MB/MBP users report problems? I personally have had a 12” MacBook (1st gen) for a year and then a 2016 MBP for a few months without issues, but switched back to the 12.9” iPad Pro each time. Still, they didn’t seem so fragile to me...
 
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cptn.nemo

macrumors regular
Jun 20, 2016
113
39
Wow i just ordered a refurbished 2016 MacBook Pro, i guess i need to purchase the AppleCare? It appears its over $300 for AppleCare? That seems steep, and I’m also wondering how many people are having this issue with their 2016 MBPs
 
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Naimfan

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Jan 15, 2003
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Wow i just ordered a refurbished 2016 MacBook Pro, i guess i need to purchase the AppleCare? It appears its over $300 for AppleCare? That seems steep, and I’m also wondering how many people are having this issue with their 2016 MBPs

Lots, as a cursory search of these forums will show you.
 
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Sterkenburg

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2016
428
366
Do we have any sense of how frequent these keyboard failures are? Like, what percentage of post 2015 MB/MBP users report problems? I personally have had a 12” MacBook (1st gen) for a year and then a 2016 MBP for a few months without issues, but switched back to the 12.9” iPad Pro each time. Still, they didn’t seem so fragile to me...

Hard numbers, no. Lots of reports, yes. Chances might be high or low, but as they say there is no smoke without fire.

The keyboard does not look fragile or anything (whether you like the feel of the butterfly switches is another matter entirely), and is, well... perfectly fine until the moment it starts to fail. It's not that you can "see" a defect before it happens, which is why people who haven't been hit claim that there is no issue at all, and those who have claim that it will eventually happen no matter what.
 
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m0nkeyb0y

macrumors regular
Jun 16, 2009
133
98
The cost to Apple means, I hope, that they will be inclined to fix it, thus cutting their maintenance/repair costs.
 
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project_2501

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2017
450
511
Hard numbers, no. Lots of reports, yes. Chances might be high or low, but as they say there is no smoke without fire.

The keyboard does not look fragile or anything (whether you like the feel of the butterfly switches is another matter entirely), and is, well... perfectly fine until the moment it starts to fail. It's not that you can "see" a defect before it happens, which is why people who haven't been hit claim that there is no issue at all, and those who have claim that it will eventually happen no matter what.
You'll never get hard numbers from Apple, they're a very secretive company when it comes to problems.

The next best thing you can do is statistics. Check this post comparing the 2017 with 2015 laptops re keybaord issues

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/2017-macbook-pro-13-non-tb-review.2056971/page-8#post-25380881

An apple genius also confirmed to me they've never seen anything like it .. and, to quote, "the repair rooms are full of them".

If I was Tim Cook I'd be very worried.
 
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cptn.nemo

macrumors regular
Jun 20, 2016
113
39
Well this is rather extreme, I feel a little wary to purchase a MacBook from 2016 now, I’ll definitely invest in apple care and hopefully since I bought refurbished it has been fixed already or will not have any issues. That’s hugely disappointing considering apples standard so far has been rather decent. I’ve never met anyone in person who has had issues with their MacBook.
 
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project_2501

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2017
450
511
Well this is rather extreme, I feel a little wary to purchase a MacBook from 2016 now, I’ll definitely invest in apple care and hopefully since I bought refurbished it has been fixed already or will not have any issues. That’s hugely disappointing considering apples standard so far has been rather decent. I’ve never met anyone in person who has had issues with their MacBook.
My personal advice. Return it and get a 2015 while you still can.

But you don't have to take my advice.

I learned the very hard way
 
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cptn.nemo

macrumors regular
Jun 20, 2016
113
39
My personal advice. Return it and get a 2015 while you still can.

But you don't have to take my advice.

I learned the very hard way

I don’t have time for a return at this point, my hp failed after 7 good years and I splurged on a MacBook the next day since I can’t be without a laptop for school and work during finals week. I’ve read a couple reviews online and haven’t heard of the issue so I’ll just cross my fingers and hope 4 years of warranty will cover any issues. Maybe by then they’ll have fixed the replacement keyboards :/ I may regret this decision though, I’ll be back here if it fails
 
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va1984

macrumors regular
Jan 27, 2011
181
217
Hard numbers, no. Lots of reports, yes. Chances might be high or low, but as they say there is no smoke without fire.

The keyboard does not look fragile or anything (whether you like the feel of the butterfly switches is another matter entirely), and is, well... perfectly fine until the moment it starts to fail. It's not that you can "see" a defect before it happens, which is why people who haven't been hit claim that there is no issue at all, and those who have claim that it will eventually happen no matter what.

I am aware of the phenomenology of keyboard failing, and also of the fact that Apple will never release any numbers on this. But a website like MacRumors or 9to5Mac or AppleInsider would be well placed to run a large-ish poll, and while of course the poll would disproportionately attract people who have had the problem (and Google/Samsung fanboys spamming), it may still give us some insight.

You'll never get hard numbers from Apple, they're a very secretive company when it comes to problems.

The next best thing you can do is statistics. Check this post comparing the 2017 with 2015 laptops re keybaord issues

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/2017-macbook-pro-13-non-tb-review.2056971/page-8#post-25380881

An apple genius also confirmed to me they've never seen anything like it .. and, to quote, "the repair rooms are full of them".

If I was Tim Cook I'd be very worried.

Thank you for that link, it's very useful (although beware of the self-inflating bubble of online reports!).
As for Tim Cook, of course he can sleep tight. The MBP is a peripheral, almost trivial item on Apple's business list. This is not some serious issue with computers or phones catching fire. It's a teething pain -- something must be ironed out on the new keyboard design. Sure, it sucks deeply for the people who have been affected and lost a lot of money on this, but if you take the broader view, Apple has always had faulty designs in early iterations of new products. Remember the side-port hinge of the first MacBook Air? Also, the cost of repairs for this issue is again trivial for a company with Apple's turnover and cash reserves. If they make 50% margins on $1200 phones and still sell millions of them, what's a couple of thousand keyboards to repair under warranty to them?

I don’t have time for a return at this point, my hp failed after 7 good years and I splurged on a MacBook the next day since I can’t be without a laptop for school and work during finals week. I’ve read a couple reviews online and haven’t heard of the issue so I’ll just cross my fingers and hope 4 years of warranty will cover any issues. Maybe by then they’ll have fixed the replacement keyboards :/ I may regret this decision though, I’ll be back here if it fails

Yes, I agree that AppleCare is a requirement in this climate. And set yourself a reminder to sell it on ebay 2 months before it expires!!
[doublepost=1513013725][/doublepost]Also... now that I think of it... wouldn't it be wonderful if this teething pain just hastens Apple's inevitable transition to a fully-virtual, fully dynamic OLED keyboard, with keys that don't actually move (zero travel! imagine the conservative backlash online!)...
 
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Mr. Dee

macrumors 68040
Dec 4, 2003
3,030
4,763
Jamaica
  • If you have sweaty hands or your skin produces a lot of oil, you probably should get one of those keyboard protectors to reduce the accumulation of grease.
  • At all cost, avoid eating around it.
  • Even when its functioning great, invest in a can of compressed air and clean it at least once per week.
  • Every few days, turn it upside down and shake it 'gently'.
  • Keep a small dusting brush handy (I keep a regular paint brush for my Early 2015) which I use to regularly clean in around it. You would be surprised the amount of dust particles that collect on the screen, not to mention lint, skin, nose hair, cat hair.
  • Use a ear cleaner dabbed in a little bit of water to clean in between the keys.
 
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Mainsail

macrumors 68000
Sep 19, 2010
1,580
2,006
Have people tried keyboard protectors for this issue? Are KB protectors/covers/skins effective in preventing dust from getting under the keys to avoid failures?
 
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Dave245

macrumors G3
Sep 15, 2013
8,524
6,239
If your worried about this wait until the 2018 MacBook Pro’s I’m sure they will fix the issue. The thing is we don’t know how big of an issue it really is because people only ever post bad experiences and problems they have so all the comments in regards to the issue could just be that, how many people have no issues and just never comment because they don’t need to?
 
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Eric_WVGG

macrumors newbie
Oct 25, 2016
16
11
gentrification fallout zone
My takeaway from two big problems with the keyboard…

1. I sloshed a bit of coffee on it; flipped it over and let it dry before using again, but regardless the arrow keys and right shift got stuck. I was able to buy and install replacement keys, but they never worked "quite right."

To prevent such an issue, I would suggest a soft silicone keyboard cover. Would also be effective against that "speck of dust" you hear so much about.
https://www.amazon.com/UPPERCASE-GhostCover-Premium-Keyboard-Protector/dp/B01MRKLH27

2. Months later, the F key basically popped off. I heard a rumor that the keys were not tolerant against heat, and sure enough the F key is right over the GPU (I bought a model with the upgraded GPU so it probably runs even a little hotter than normal.

When I do anything GPU-intensive, I use an external keyboard now. Dunno if it will really help, but it can't hurt.

After the F key debacle, I caved and paid Apple $700 for a new keyboard. They extended my warranty by another three months, which is nice. I'll be getting Applecare right before my extended warranty runs out; never had need for it before, but it seems pretty clear that this will come up again in the future.

… IMO, if it's true that Apple perceives Macs as the "trucks" of computers, I think it would behoove them to start designing that way, and leave the thin-and-light-at-all-costs design to iOS devices. I adore everything else about this laptop (*love* the Touch Bar), but this keyboard is just ridiculous.
 
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