iFixit Teardown Takes a Look at New Scissor Keys in 2020 MacBook Air and Finds Easier to Access Trackpad and Battery

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iFixit today shared the results of one of its traditional teardowns of the new MacBook Air, which Apple unveiled last week.


The major notable new feature in the MacBook Air is the scissor switch keyboard, an upgrade over the much-maligned butterfly keyboard that was prone to failure and spurred Apple to implement a wide-ranging repair program.

The scissor switch keyboard was first introduced in the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but Apple is planning to expand it across the MacBook lineup, starting with the MacBook Air. The updated keyboard adds a mere half a millimeter of additional thickness to the body of the machine, with the MacBook Air now measuring in at 0.63 inches at its thickest point, up from 0.61 inches in the prior version.

The new Magic Keyboard is about 0.5mm thicker than the Butterfly keyboard of the prior-generation model, which accounts for the minor increase in thickness. The new MacBook Air is also just a bit heavier at 2.80 pounds instead of 2.75 pounds.


Along with the new keyboard, iFixit found a larger heatsink over the processor, and a new cable configuration between the logic board and the trackpad that makes it easier to do trackpad and battery repairs.
That new trackpad cable configuration pays dividends! Where last year the trackpad cables were trapped under the logic board, they are now free to be disconnected anytime--meaning trackpad removal can happen as soon as the back cover comes off. And since the battery rests under these same cables, this new configuration also greatly speeds up battery removal by leaving the logic board in place. That's two very tasty birds, one stone, for those of you counting. This is one of those happy (but all too rare) occasions where we can identify a hardware change from Apple that's squarely aimed at improving serviceability in the existing design. Sometimes they do listen!
The battery model number and specs are unchanged compared to last year, and Apple uses both pull-tab adhesive and screws to hold the speakers in place in the new model. The SSD and the RAM continue to be soldered in place and cannot be upgraded.

All in all, the MacBook Air earned a repairability score of four out of 10 for the quicker access to trackpad and battery replacements, and the modular and easy to access fans, speakers, and ports. Though the keyboard is now more reliable, it's still integrated into the top case, requiring a complete teardown for service purposes.

Apple's new MacBook Air can be purchased from the online Apple Store and it is priced starting at $999.

Article Link: iFixit Teardown Takes a Look at New Scissor Keys in 2020 MacBook Air and Finds Easier to Access Trackpad and Battery
 
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CWallace

macrumors 604
Aug 17, 2007
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Seattle, WA
So looks like Apple is starting to make the most-likely failure points (battery and trackpad) easier to replace. I am guessing there is a structural reason why they continue to make the keyboard part of the top case as that has to make it much more expensive for (under warranty) repair.
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 65816
Jul 6, 2012
1,373
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Nice to see Apple continuing to make things most likely to fail or destined to fail easier to repair. It'd be better if the keyboard was included too, but one step at a time.
 

Metrosey

macrumors regular
Oct 18, 2019
109
88
Ah good, now we can expect cheaper and faster repairs. Well done Apple, even this small progress is great.

What did you say? The price isn’t decreasing, oh alright.
 

Freeangel1

macrumors regular
Jan 13, 2020
125
135
WOW. I would buy more MacBook Pro laptops IF they did not solder the SSD and RAM in place
Please Change this APPLE. it costs you nothing and does not affect manufacturing or performance
It is meant to screw customers wanting to upgrade

I want to buy a new 16 inch MacBook Pro with a 6 core processor BUT CAN NOT UPGRADE AFTER PURCHASE!!
SUCKS.
 

Pelea

macrumors 6502
Oct 5, 2014
490
1,440
There is NOTHING wrong with only one fan being present. We do not yet have the technology to fit 2 fans into the MacBook Air. Maybe next year Apple will be able to do it.

for now it is perfectly acceptable to get much less performance, but also a much lighter MacBook Air thanks to one fan and not 50
 

minik

macrumors 65816
Jun 25, 2007
1,257
63
Bellevue, WA
I am happy with my 2018 MacBook Air except for the performance and a bit low screen resolution. The 2020 model seems to be a home run especially with the processor options.
 

mannyvel

macrumors 6502
Mar 16, 2019
365
626
Hillsboro, OR
Note that you can put 16gb into the MBA, something that was new in the last model. The new keyboard makes it into a good portable/dockable solution ie: bring it between home and work and plug it into a big monitor at both ends.
 
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x-evil-x

macrumors 601
Jul 13, 2008
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Note that you can put 16gb into the MBA, something that was new in the last model. The new keyboard makes it into a good portable/dockable solution ie: bring it between home and work and plug it into a big monitor at both ends.
And the one from last year you could do this with.
 

gnipgnop

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2009
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The tech press always talks about the butterfly design as if it was proven to be more "prone to failure" than other types of laptop keyboards, but it never was. Can MacRumors say what the failure rate for the older scissor design was? No. Can MacRumors say what the failure rate for the butterfly design was? No. Can MacRumors say what the failure rate for PC keyboards has been in the past five years? No. There are no numbers to compare.
 

Naraxus

macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2016
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I'm a big fan of the MBA. I've had the one I'm typing this on since '13 and aside from a couple keys that are hanging on by a thread, this has been my favorite laptop ever hands-down
 
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[AUT] Thomas

macrumors 6502
Mar 13, 2016
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Horrible air flow solution. How much can a heatpipe cost ?
...on a device that is thicker than a Macbook Pro!

...and once the 13" Pro is refreshed with a 10th Gen CPU and 256GB SSD in the cheapest model, the Air will be pointless again... unless you really can't afford the 250 bucks difference.

It's really sad... I really like the concept of the Air. But it's as heavy as Pro, as thick as a Pro almost as expensive as Pro and has an inferior cooling system.
I'd gladly take a 12" passive cooled Air like the old one, but with an A12Z. 8GB RAM is sufficient there.
 

CRoebuck

macrumors member
May 16, 2014
51
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There is NOTHING wrong with only one fan being present. We do not yet have the technology to fit 2 fans into the MacBook Air. Maybe next year Apple will be able to do it.

for now it is perfectly acceptable to get much less performance, but also a much lighter MacBook Air thanks to one fan and not 50
I think the point is that the fan is not connected to the CPU via a heat pipe and therefore is very inefficient. A simple heat pipe between the two would help draw heat away from the CPU and help with performance not to mention longevity.

Heat pipes don't weigh much and this Air is heavier than last years.....
- - Post merged: - -

...on a device that is thicker than a Macbook Pro!

...and once the 13" Pro is refreshed with a 10th Gen CPU and 256GB SSD in the cheapest model, the Air will be pointless again... unless you really can't afford the 250 bucks difference.

It's really sad... I really like the concept of the Air. But it's as heavy as Pro, as thick as a Pro almost as expensive as Pro and has an inferior cooling system.
I'd gladly take a 12" passive cooled Air like the old one, but with an A12Z. 8GB RAM is sufficient there.

It's not just inferior, it's downright bizarre. It's like they purposely limited it's performance to avoid it being too close to the Pro.
 
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calzon65

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2008
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I realize they might not get a good repair-ability score, but even the insides are a work of art.
 

s66

macrumors regular
Dec 12, 2016
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The tech press always talks about the butterfly design as if it was proven to be more "prone to failure" than other types of laptop keyboards, but it never was. Can MacRumors say what the failure rate for the older scissor design was? No. Can MacRumors say what the failure rate for the butterfly design was? No. Can MacRumors say what the failure rate for PC keyboards has been in the past five years? No. There are no numbers to compare.
We have 2 13" MBPs that both had their topcase replaced to get the keyboard back into a normal operating condition (within the AppleCare 3 years). Problem: keyboard failed to register keystrokes on certain keys. One had it on the bottom row (arrows, and control, command etc) the other had it in the middle near the fghj keys.
The replaced keyboard work much better again (still hate the !@#$% touchbar with a vengeance), and they should be slightly better protected against dust getting inside the keyboard.

I've also managed well over 100 MBPs over the years (well over). None of those with the more traditional design ever had any. problem like this.

So:
- 0% problem on a population of over 100 with the normal design
- 100% problem cases on a population of 2 with the modified design.

Yes, the second population is too small to draw conclusions (even the first isn't all that large), but Apple has larger numbers to see this, and they created a program to replace topcases (which includes a brand new battery etc) as soon as a customer mentions keyboard problem without further questions or tests on those machines with a modified keyboard design - so they *know* the problem is real.
 

markaceto

macrumors 6502
Jun 8, 2017
310
434
I'm glad Jony Ive is gone. Had he remained at Apple, he would have vetoed the scissor switches since they would mean a slightly thicker (by 0.5mm) keyboard. It's funny that chubby Jony had no problem with his own girth but was allergic to thicker laptops.
Ha-totally! Also, I think you just nailed the incremental upgrades since he left. They've been de-Iveing the lineup, and saving the major upgrades for the next gen.
 

smirking

macrumors 68030
Aug 31, 2003
2,623
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Silicon Valley
The tech press always talks about the butterfly design as if it was proven to be more "prone to failure" than other types of laptop keyboards, but it never was.
I'm in a weird spot with this because I completely believe that the butterfly keyboard is prone to failure, but I also think people blew it way out of proportion. I think people overstate the problems in the butterfly keyboards and underestimate the potential for problems with scissor keyboards. The two mechanisms are more alike than most people realize.

I've had as 2016 and a 2018. The 2016 got glitchy, but resolved on its own after I broke it in. My 2018 was flawless until recently and now it's getting skippy, but it's minor and like my 2016 it appears to be on its way to resolving on its own as well.

It's annoying that this butterfly keyboard isn't rock solid in reliability, but I really like the tacility so I'm willing to put up with the possibility that it might get wacky on me without warning. So far in my experience, it's a temporary condition. If it were permanent and kept getting worse, I wouldn't be forgiving of it either.

There are other things about the 15" MBPs that I have bigger issues with than the keyboard. Number 1 would be keyboard marks and screen discoloration from getting oiled by your keyboard.
 

Jury

macrumors regular
Jan 13, 2020
129
33
I'm in a weird spot with this because I completely believe that the butterfly keyboard is prone to failure, but I also think people blew it way out of proportion. I think people overstate the problems in the butterfly keyboards and underestimate the potential for problems with scissor keyboards. The two mechanisms are more alike than most people realize.

I've had as 2016 and a 2018. The 2016 got glitchy, but resolved on its own after I broke it in. My 2018 was flawless until recently and now it's getting skippy, but it's minor and like my 2016 it appears to be on its way to resolving on its own as well.

It's annoying that this butterfly keyboard isn't rock solid in reliability, but I really like the tacility so I'm willing to put up with the possibility that it might get wacky on me without warning. So far in my experience, it's a temporary condition. If it were permanent and kept getting worse, I wouldn't be forgiving of it either.

There are other things about the 15" MBPs that I have bigger issues with than the keyboard. Number 1 would be keyboard marks and screen discoloration from getting oiled by your keyboard.
If there is anything to comment about the butterfly mechanism which can be regarded as the world's most unreliable keyboard from Apple MB.
 

recoil80

macrumors 68030
Jul 16, 2014
2,771
2,344
...on a device that is thicker than a Macbook Pro!

...and once the 13" Pro is refreshed with a 10th Gen CPU and 256GB SSD in the cheapest model, the Air will be pointless again... unless you really can't afford the 250 bucks difference.
But it makes a lot of sense now, as the 13 Pro hasn't been updated. If performance is not an issue you can get an Air with 512GB of storage at a lower price than the base 13 Pro with a measly 128GB of storage.
Once they'll update the Pro, if the base model starts with 256, the Air will have less appeal. But consider than a lot of people are working from home these days and are buying laptops for that very reason. The Air is brand new, the 13 Pro is more expensive and older, the Air seems like an obvious choice unless you really need a different CPU, but I don't think it is the case for a lot of customers
 
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