iFixit Teardown Suggests 2018 MacBook Pro Keys Feature a Silicone Barrier to Prevent Malfunctions Due to Dust

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The keys of the new 2018 MacBook Pro, which uses a third-generation butterfly keyboard, appear to be cocooned in a "thin, silicone barrier" according to a teardown that's underway over at iFixit.

    According to iFixit, the quieter typing Apple has been advertising in the 2018 MacBook Pro models is a side effect of the new membrane, which the site believes is actually an "ingress-proofing measure" to prevent the butterfly keys from seizing up when exposed to dust and other small particulates.


    To back up its claim, iFixit points towards a patent for the technology Apple may be using in the third-generation butterfly keyboard, which describes a "guard structure" that keeps direct contaminants away from the movement mechanism.

    iFixit does warn, however, that while the silicone barrier is clearly in place, there's no way to definitively prove that it's a reliability fix rather than just a sound damping measure, citing statements from Apple to The Verge that have said the new keyboard design wasn't introduced to "solve [dust] issues." Apple also told The Verge and other sites that the issue in question has only impacted a small number of customers.

    iFixit speculates that Apple is avoiding sharing the complete reasoning behind the keyboard redesign because of the class action lawsuits that it's currently facing over faulty 2016/2017 MacBook Pro keyboards.
    Since Apple unveiled the 2018 MacBook Pro with its third-generation butterfly keyboard, there have been questions about whether specific changes were made to address keyboard failure issues present in 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models.

    Apple has been vague when answering questions about the way the quieter keys were implemented and if those changes also impact durability and reliability, but iFixit's teardown offers hope for customers who have been waiting for Apple to fix the keyboard problems affecting older MacBook Pro models.

    Some 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro owners have experienced issues with sticky, unresponsive, or repeating keys, leading to significant public outcry that eventually pushed Apple to launch a free repair program for those machines. As a result of the attention given to the issue, some customers have been wary about purchasing a new MacBook Pro because of possible future problems.

    Future failure rates and anecdotal reports may be the only way to determine the true purpose behind the silicone barrier added to the keys, as Apple's marketing materials insist the change has been introduced to allow for a quieter typing experience, addressing an issue that few people seemed to have had with the 2016/2017 keyboard.

    Earlier today, TechCrunch shared a video demonstrating the typing sound of the new 2018 MacBook Pro compared to an earlier MacBook Pro model, confirming that it is indeed quieter as Apple says. Multiple hands-on reports have also said there's a noticeable difference between the sound of the new MacBook Pro and older models.

    iFixit plans to continue on with its teardown next week and may have more information to share, but given the interest in the third-generation butterfly keyboard, the site didn't want to wait to highlight potential good news.

    Article Link: iFixit Teardown Suggests 2018 MacBook Pro Keys Feature a Silicone Barrier to Prevent Malfunctions Due to Dust
  2. TimmeyCook, Jul 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018

    TimmeyCook Suspended


    Jun 20, 2018
    Oh no...

    If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of thousands of tech divas on Twitter, blogs, YouTube, throwing out the scripts they were writing to FUD people about the keyboard...

    ... just to make new ones spinning this around...

    iFixit is the first. It's a "cover up" now... according to them...

    Apple: damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    If I were Tim Cook, I would drop the battery replacement costs from $29 to $9 and shut them down for good.
  3. Tubamajuba macrumors 68020

    Jun 8, 2011
    Done with MacRumors, the trolls have won
  4. matthew12 macrumors member


    Aug 27, 2009
    Hmm... I'll wait for their finished thoughts, but this makes me a little more interested. I'll wait a few months though, as that's when the keyboards start to fail.
  5. aaronhead14 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 9, 2009
    Apple, just go back to the 2012-2015 keyboard design. It's far superior. It feels better, it was more reliable, and it was MUCH quieter. It checks all the boxes. Why did you change it and make it suck so much in these newer models? Just swallow your pride and go back to your great design!
  6. NervousFish2 macrumors regular


    Mar 23, 2014
    Its as if millions of basement-dwelling Apple haters suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 13, 2018 ---
    Because it was fine for then. But once you've gotten used to the newer type, there's just no going back. The old school is horrible to me now. I'd never go back.
  7. TimmeyCook, Jul 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018

    TimmeyCook Suspended


    Jun 20, 2018

    Reason: new one is better.

    Hows' better?

    It's faster to type, clicker.
  8. Attirex macrumors 6502a

    Apr 8, 2015
    Ok, MR staff, it’s friday night. Stop posting and go get a %&@! drink.
  9. Dydegu macrumors 6502a


    Mar 9, 2015

    Can we admit that this MBP refresh is everything that people have been asking for?
  10. MTW, Jul 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018

    MTW macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2015
    Uh, no. Because it's not. Next question.

    People wanted:

    Old keyboard system (even ignoring the reliability problem, the new keyboards feel gross to type on. the new ones are still super loud, too.)

    The old, smaller trackpad (new one is too big - lots of accidental input)

    Ports - USB-C is great, but 20 years of legacy won't vanish overnight. Having the ability to hook up my stuff without dongles is essential

    The stupid ****ing touch bar to go away - Transitioning from typing on keys to touching glass mid-sentence is just gross.

    A resolution bump - the 15" MBPR still has the reduced effective resolution of the original Retina MacBook Pro.

    Core count bump - delivered

    32GB of ram - delivered

    Pricing reduced to 2015 levels - nope, a semi-decent largely base 15" config is still well over $3000. A bit much for a fairly terrible laptop.
  11. TimmeyCook Suspended


    Jun 20, 2018
    Funny, on another topic, you posted that you wondered if Apple fixed the keyboard issues.

    Now that you have your answer (at least 90% of it), you say that they should go back using what everyone else is using so they don't have a competitive advantage.

    What's next?

    Apple should drop APFS, because they make their hardware run faster?

    Apple should drop macOS and use Windows?
  12. groove-agent macrumors 65816


    Jan 13, 2006
    I'm sure the fanboys will still insist that the 2016/2017 keyboards are fine despite the growing amount of evidence that Apple is covering up their keyboard disaster.

    I hope they've fixed it once and for all. However I think I'm going to wait 6 - 12 months and see what happens to the early adopters of the 2018 keyboard. Thanks to them for gambling their thousands of dollars so I don't have to gamble mine.

  13. komatta macrumors newbie


    Jan 18, 2018
    That is really encouraging. I guess we'll know for sure next week.

    Definitely makes me more likely to purchase. Now, 13" vs 15"...
  14. kodos macrumors 6502

    May 1, 2010
    Makes me feel a lot better about my 2018 purchase. Hopefully, nothing new is broken... TrueTone panels self-immolating when in a dark room? I hope not...
  15. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    This refresh scored 60% (3 out of 5) for me. Was hoping that Apple would increase the display resolution and lower the price, neither of those things happened. The Touch Bar MacBook Pros remain overpriced with a display resolution from six years ago.
  16. Lone Deranger macrumors 68000

    Lone Deranger

    Apr 23, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    I might be able to hear if it wasn't for the Apple Defense Force Divas drowning them out with Apple marketing authored BS.

    Why don't we just wait and see how well this new keyboard actually performs out there in the real world before we blindly attack or blindly defend it.
  17. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    I have the 2016 model and haven’t had any issues with my keys.

    That said, this seems like an all around improvement. I really don’t understand how this can be taken as a negative.
  18. Sterkenburg macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2016
    So in the end it was really the rumored patented design, essentially a reliability fix disguised as a quieter mechanism.

    On the one hand, this is good news and will give me some additional peace of mind when ordering my new 2018. On the other, I don't really like Apple's attitude in keeping on denying the obvious, but what can you expect? They have multiple lawsuits pending and were just forced to roll out an expensive repair program, so they can't come out and admit that reliability was the problem all along.
  19. aylk macrumors regular


    Jan 29, 2010
  20. TimmeyCook Suspended


    Jun 20, 2018
    Are you reasonably comparing me to people that actually make money (advertising, sponsorship, etc.) from Apple controversy?

    It's faster to type. More tactile feedback (clickier).
  21. boccabella macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2010
    All of this drama for the sake of shaving a few millimeters off the thickness of the notebook.
  22. vipergts2207, Jul 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018

    vipergts2207 macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2009
    Columbus, OH
    What’s sad is that a few people blinded by Apple’s RDF would only believe the 2nd-gen keyboards have an issue if Apple said, ‘the old keyboards are more unreliable than previous designs and are basically ticking time bombs,’ which quite clearly will never happen.

    Evidence of issues with the gen 1/2:

    1. Many complaints about reliability that were unseen with previous keyboards, including three different class-action lawsuits.

    2. A repair program launched by Apple that specifically targets these keyboards, showing that at least internally, they recognize an issue.

    3. A new gen 3 keyboard with a silicone covering over the keys, which may be for sound reduction and/or reliability improvements.

    The only people denying the issue of the older keyboards are people choosing to bury their head in the sand, instead claiming people are dumping dust on their laptop or eating chips and cheetohs directly over their keyboards.
  23. Jayderek macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2010
    Madison, WI
    Yeah I think this nails it. The Legal team have a lot of power within companies and if they'd admit outright the faulty previous keyboards, then it's ringing the dinner bells for more lawsuits.

    This is really good news here...
  24. femike macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2011
    Maybe the keyboard problems are a result of excessive heat due to usage patterns affecting the plastic keys parts and/or the aluminium case. Apple's design requires the parts to be manufactured with extremely fine tolerances and won't take much deviation/deformation to have a negative effect. Also, because of this dust, skin flakes will also be an issue. This may account for not everyone having the problem during the same time frame. Hope this silicon cover helps for those buy this.
  25. Think creative macrumors regular

    Jul 27, 2013
    Agreed. And I'm not the biggest fan of how these keyboards feel, but I'm willing to trade the benefits if they did fix the relabiltiy issue. It was the only thing holding me back from buying one of them. Besides, I'm an author. I write more than pretty much everyone everywhere. Most of that will be at my desk, with my iMac, with either a mechanical keyboard or a split board. Laptops are for trips and a few thousand words here and there at most. If I'm staying somewhere for a week + i'll be bringing a magic keyboard anyway, and those have great key travel.

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