Resolved What are the Differences Between the 2016, 2017 & 2018 Butterfly Keyboards?

HappyDude20

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
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Los Angeles, Ca
I’m wondering what the differences are between the three different generation keyboards are. I just bought the 2017 MBP but here the 2018’s keyboard is suppose to be better.

I also heard that if you have a 2016 Keyboard that Apple will replace it for free with a 2018 keyboard with its ‘Keyboard replacement program.’

Having owned this 2017 MBP for a few weeks now I’m not (yet) noticing any issues but I want to be prepared.
 

SDColorado

macrumors 601
Nov 6, 2011
4,348
4,315
Highlands Ranch, CO
Between 1st and 2nd gen, I believe it was just adding a bigger steel dome button?




Between 2nd and 3rd they added the silicon barrier

I know this is MacRumors, but I haven't heard about Apple replacing the 2016 keyboard with a 2018 one with the keyboard replacement program. I am not sure it would make much difference if they did. I expect 2018 keyboards to be thrown on the replacement program pile.
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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In one sense, the 2018 model represents apple's attempt to fix a flawed design, where as the 2016 and 2017 models will have a higher propensity to fail.
 

Sterkenburg

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2016
422
358
2016: first butterfly v2 on the MBP, worst key feel and worst chances of failure - covered by repair program
2017: slightly improved butterfly v2 (silent fix), feels a little better but can still fail - covered by repair program
2018: butterfly v3 w/ silicone membrane, best tactile feel out of the three, still not immune to failures - NOT covered

I suspect the repair program might be extended to the 2018 soon, as Apple already had to publicly apologize for their failure to fix the reliability issues completely. Honestly, at this point they just need to give up and redesign the keyboard for the next generation.

And no, at the moment the repair program replaces your defective keyboard with a 2017 one, which is the latest iteration of the butterfly v2 design. In other words, you get a new part with the same design flaws.
 

maflynn

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And no, at the moment the repair program replaces your defective keyboard with a 2017 one, which is the latest iteration of the butterfly v2 design. In other words, you get a new part with the same design flaws.
That's par for Apple, they did that with the 2011 dGPU problem, it had a defective design on the GPU, and they just replaced the failed logic board with a refurbished logic board with the same defective design. People back then went through multiple repairs. Fast forward to 2019, and we see many folks here with multiple repairs.

The repair program buys you time to keep using the laptop, it does not resolve the problem, sadly.
 

SDColorado

macrumors 601
Nov 6, 2011
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That's par for Apple, they did that with the 2011 dGPU problem, it had a defective design on the GPU, and they just replaced the failed logic board with a refurbished logic board with the same defective design. People back then went through multiple repairs. Fast forward to 2019, and we see many folks here with multiple repairs.

The repair program buys you time to keep using the laptop, it does not resolve the problem, sadly.
Is that the refurbished boards where they added that tacky bit of rubber to the top as well? Slap a patch on it and kick the can down the road :)
 
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Garage Battle

macrumors regular
Aug 31, 2007
168
151
Orlando, FL
Here is the problem with any of the three years of keyboards.

2016: Apple cheaped out and tried to make an easier to produce keyboard (that was also thin).
2017: Apple tried to make the cheaper, easier to produce keyboard better by making small modifications to it.
2018: Apple added a condom to the keys - not as a solution to the dust/debris - but as a keyboard with a 'better feel'.

Its this aspect of Apple that most of us are getting sick of. Solving a problem they created and packaging it as a 'feature'.

Want to know the next one they're doing? Dark Mode.

How is Dark Mode a fix? For what? Pulse Width Modulation - the new iPhone OLED screens are painful to look at it in some lighting conditions. So how does Apple do this in smooth Apple fashion? Start pushing the mode across other platforms and switch iOS over last.

Lets take a few things into consideration here. What is Apple failing at?

Desktop computers
iPhone screens
Laptop keyboards
Laptop screen cables
Wireless charging
5400rpm drives in iMacs

Know what that tells me? This isn't a very premium brand anymore. You've got a good pair of operating systems absolutely hindered by a company thats being slowly run into the ground without a critical, demanding leader. Know what else is a death toll for Apple? Their keynotes. Stay with me here. The amount of forced diversity in their photo sets is simply unbelievable. Apple might as well have a person from every nationality running circles around him why he speaks on stage.

Know what apple is good at?

Promises of better products that never come to pass.

Board of directors needs to kick Tim out asap before he wraps the entire company in a rainbow flag and lights it on fire.
 

LogicalApex

macrumors 6502a
Nov 13, 2015
526
495
How is Dark Mode a fix? For what? Pulse Width Modulation - the new iPhone OLED screens are painful to look at it in some lighting conditions. So how does Apple do this in smooth Apple fashion? Start pushing the mode across other platforms and switch iOS over last.
This makes no sense... But assuming it did for a moment... Why would Dark Mode be coming to iOS 2 years after the iPhone X if it were badly needed just so anyone could finally look at the screen on the X (and later OLED iPhones)?

Know what else is a death toll for Apple? Their keynotes. Stay with me here. The amount of forced diversity in their photo sets is simply unbelievable. Apple might as well have a person from every nationality running circles around him why he speaks on stage.
What? So Apple being diverse is somehow killing the company? It might shock you to know this, but Apple before Tim Cook wasn't just Steve Jobs working as a lone wolf at Apple...
 

Painter2002

macrumors 65816
May 9, 2017
1,121
814
Austin, TX
Know what else is a death toll for Apple? Their keynotes. Stay with me here. The amount of forced diversity in their photo sets is simply unbelievable. Apple might as well have a person from every nationality running circles around him why he speaks on stage.

Board of directors needs to kick Tim out asap before he wraps the entire company in a rainbow flag and lights it on fire.
Seriously? If I didn’t know better you were implying something that I seriously hope you are not.

Apple makes a point of embracing and presenting diversity in their keynotes because that is what their goal is. The silicone valley industry has a had a history of being not diversified, were only a small segment of the population matter based on certain demographics. Apple is simply trying to put more of that diversity on the front of their company. How does that make them less of a worthy company or make their products any less valuable? Enlighten me please.

Apple is a company like any other and should be graded on the quality of their products and values. Some of their products have been great, some not. But I fail to see how the quoted portion of your comment makes Apple a worse company.
 

senttoschool

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2017
182
251
Know what that tells me? This isn't a very premium brand anymore. You've got a good pair of operating systems absolutely hindered by a company thats being slowly run into the ground without a critical, demanding leader. Know what else is a death toll for Apple? Their keynotes. Stay with me here. The amount of forced diversity in their photo sets is simply unbelievable. Apple might as well have a person from every nationality running circles around him why he speaks on stage.
Huh? You do realize that Apple is an international company that markets to many different countries and ethnicities right? Most of Apple's revenue is out of the U.S.

What's more exclusive than to have a bunch of white guys showing images of other white guys? How is that good for business?
 
Last edited:

Painter2002

macrumors 65816
May 9, 2017
1,121
814
Austin, TX
I’m wondering what the differences are between the three different generation keyboards are. I just bought the 2017 MBP but here the 2018’s keyboard is suppose to be better.

I also heard that if you have a 2016 Keyboard that Apple will replace it for free with a 2018 keyboard with its ‘Keyboard replacement program.’

Having owned this 2017 MBP for a few weeks now I’m not (yet) noticing any issues but I want to be prepared.
Others have already mentioned the differences between the years, but I can tell you that it seems (from my observations from the many, many threads here), that each gen has progressively had less issues. It still is a design that could lead to failure no matter the mode year you get. But currently if you have a 2016/17 model you are covered by a 4 year repair program from the date of purchase from an authorized Apple vendor.

I personally have had a refurb 2017 MacBook Pro for over a year now and have not had any issues, but doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If the issue comes up they will fix it for free til 2022 for me (I bought mine in 2018 from Apple), but after that it’s a pricey repair bill.

I’m waiting, hoping by 2022 Apple will have released a redesign of the keyboard with no issues so I can trade up to a newer model with no keyboard issues before the repair program is over for my machine.
 

HappyDude20

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
3,025
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Los Angeles, Ca
Others have already mentioned the differences between the years, but I can tell you that it seems (from my observations from the many, many threads here), that each gen has progressively had less issues. It still is a design that could lead to failure no matter the mode year you get. But currently if you have a 2016/17 model you are covered by a 4 year repair program from the date of purchase from an authorized Apple vendor.

I personally have had a refurb 2017 MacBook Pro for over a year now and have not had any issues, but doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If the issue comes up they will fix it for free til 2022 for me (I bought mine in 2018 from Apple), but after that it’s a pricey repair bill.

I’m waiting, hoping by 2022 Apple will have released a redesign of the keyboard with no issues so I can trade up to a newer model with no keyboard issues before the repair program is over for my machine.
So, if you look at the replacement program, it states that the program is offered from the date of the initial product sale, meaning that the 2017 MBP replacement can be done until 2021, not from the date that you purchased the MBP. Just FYI as I also purchased the same 2017 MBP (non-touchbar). Just like you, I'm hoping this baby lasts me till 2021 without problems, if not I'll go into the Apple Store and see how they remedy this situation.

Ive heard that Apple will either replace the keyboard and hand me back the exact same MBP, and I've also heard of Apple simply swapping out and giving a customer a new 2018 MBP. Mileage may vary.
 
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sokzzuka

macrumors member
Feb 24, 2019
44
12
Here is the problem with any of the three years of keyboards.

2016: Apple cheaped out and tried to make an easier to produce keyboard (that was also thin).
2017: Apple tried to make the cheaper, easier to produce keyboard better by making small modifications to it.
2018: Apple added a condom to the keys - not as a solution to the dust/debris - but as a keyboard with a 'better feel'.

Its this aspect of Apple that most of us are getting sick of. Solving a problem they created and packaging it as a 'feature'.

Want to know the next one they're doing? Dark Mode.

How is Dark Mode a fix? For what? Pulse Width Modulation - the new iPhone OLED screens are painful to look at it in some lighting conditions. So how does Apple do this in smooth Apple fashion? Start pushing the mode across other platforms and switch iOS over last.

Lets take a few things into consideration here. What is Apple failing at?

Desktop computers
iPhone screens
Laptop keyboards
Laptop screen cables
Wireless charging
5400rpm drives in iMacs

Know what that tells me? This isn't a very premium brand anymore. You've got a good pair of operating systems absolutely hindered by a company thats being slowly run into the ground without a critical, demanding leader. Know what else is a death toll for Apple? Their keynotes. Stay with me here. The amount of forced diversity in their photo sets is simply unbelievable. Apple might as well have a person from every nationality running circles around him why he speaks on stage.

Know what apple is good at?

Promises of better products that never come to pass.

Board of directors needs to kick Tim out asap before he wraps the entire company in a rainbow flag and lights it on fire.
that's true but on the other hand, you have brands like dell with coil whine on their XPSes, carbon problems/ Lenovo with uneven palmrest on t480 (have one form my employer), and same problems with x1 Carbon and with not so good service.
In general quality of consumer goods went down to sh*t....and to be fair, apple is no longer the most expensive (at least with base models). TBH base Macbook Pro was the cheapest laptop out there (fine, I would get 256GB with windows). it's just crazy what happened to the quality of electronics.
 

maflynn

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Staff member
May 3, 2009
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Boston
f not I'll go into the Apple Store and see how they remedy this situation.
They remedy it by replacing the topcase/keyboard

Ive heard that Apple will either replace the keyboard and hand me back the exact same MBP
Yes, that's what they do

and I've also heard of Apple simply swapping out and giving a customer a new 2018 MBP. Mileage may vary.
The only time i've heard that is for those who had an exorbitant amount of keyboard failures/repairs and even then it was rare.
 

Painter2002

macrumors 65816
May 9, 2017
1,121
814
Austin, TX
So, if you look at the replacement program, it states that the program is offered from the date of the initial product sale
So I know this has been debated before on Macrumors, but my understanding from everything I’ve seen and read is that it’s from the original sale from Apple to the current owner. So if you bought it from an Apple or an approved Apple vendor (Best Buy for example), then you have 4 years from that date.

In any case, in 2-3 years I’m betting Apple will have this fixed, as a refresh design is due by 2020-2021.
 
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maflynn

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my understanding from everything I’ve seen and read is that it’s from the original sale from Apple to the current owner. So if you bought it from an Apple or an approved Apple vendor
That's my understanding as well. Apple has proof of purchase that they can use to reference, but they lose all of that audit trail on re-sales, so its limited to the date of the original sale.
 
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Spudlicious

macrumors 6502a
Nov 21, 2015
610
399
Bedfordshire, England
Here is the problem with any of the three years of keyboards.

2016: Apple cheaped out and tried to make an easier to produce keyboard (that was also thin).
2017: Apple tried to make the cheaper, easier to produce keyboard better by making small modifications to it.
2018: Apple added a condom to the keys - not as a solution to the dust/debris - but as a keyboard with a 'better feel'.

Its this aspect of Apple that most of us are getting sick of. Solving a problem they created and packaging it as a 'feature'.

Want to know the next one they're doing? Dark Mode.

How is Dark Mode a fix? For what? Pulse Width Modulation - the new iPhone OLED screens are painful to look at it in some lighting conditions. So how does Apple do this in smooth Apple fashion? Start pushing the mode across other platforms and switch iOS over last.

Lets take a few things into consideration here. What is Apple failing at?

Desktop computers
iPhone screens
Laptop keyboards
Laptop screen cables
Wireless charging
5400rpm drives in iMacs

Know what that tells me? This isn't a very premium brand anymore. You've got a good pair of operating systems absolutely hindered by a company thats being slowly run into the ground without a critical, demanding leader. Know what else is a death toll for Apple? Their keynotes. Stay with me here. The amount of forced diversity in their photo sets is simply unbelievable. Apple might as well have a person from every nationality running circles around him why he speaks on stage.

Know what apple is good at?

Promises of better products that never come to pass.

Board of directors needs to kick Tim out asap before he wraps the entire company in a rainbow flag and lights it on fire.
The financials, which are all that counts in the corporate world, have always been good under Timmy, so he's safe as houses. People may want Apple to be run by enthusiasts with serious interest in the products but that's just not how things roll.

My fantasy solution to current Macbook issues is for Apple to sell the brand as IBM sold Thinkpad to Lenovo. Computers are just too small a part of the picture to the Cupertino crowd, they've got much bigger fish to fry. I really think Lenovo would be more likely to produce a good replacement for my 2015 Pro than Apple ever will. Who would develop MacOS? I don't know, but I said this was fantasy.
 

HappyDude20

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
3,025
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Los Angeles, Ca
Wait. Sorry to rehash this topic again but has a consensus been agreed upon regarding if the replacement program is (for example with my 17’ MBP-non touchbar) for 4 years from the date it was released by Apple OR 4 years from my personal purchase date?

I purchased it on March 12th, 2019.
 

goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,794
2,592
long island NY
Pretty sure the 2015 MacBook has gen 1 butterfly and 2016 mbp has gen 2. I remember trying the 2015 MacBook in store and thinking how bad it was and my 2016 seems a lot better. The 2018 has gen 3 and people claim the 2017 has a slight improvement to it but idk what since people never seem to know. I thought it was just a placebo but it still seems to be a consensus that it’s better.
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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Boston
4 years from the date it was released by Apple OR 4 years from my personal purchase date?
4 years from original purchase, the repair program would go on in perpetuity if apple allowed a resale date. You bought the laptop used, but that will not factor into the repair program date computation.

Pretty sure the 2015 MacBook has gen 1 butterfly and 2016 mbp has gen 2
Yes, Apple introduced the new butterfly keyboard in 2015 in the new MacBook laptop. They updated it for the 2016 model, and used that design in the 2017 model. They added the membrane (and maybe other changes) and called it the third generation for the 2018 model year.
 

HappyDude20

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
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Los Angeles, Ca
4 years from original purchase, the repair program would go on in perpetuity if apple allowed a resale date. You bought the laptop used
No I bought the MBP non touchbar brand new from Best Buy on 3/12/19.

Does this mean I’m in the keyboard replacement program till 3/12/2023?
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
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Boston
No I bought the MBP non touchbar brand new from Best Buy on 3/12/19.
Is that a 2018 model, or a 2017 model? If its the 2017 model, it should be 4 years from the purchase. If its the 2018 model with the 3rd generation butterfly keyboard, then it doesn't qualify for the repair program. Only MBPs from the 2016 and 2017 model years are covered. So far 2018 MBP owners only got from Apple is an apology.
 

HappyDude20

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
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Los Angeles, Ca
Is that a 2018 model, or a 2017 model? If its the 2017 model, it should be 4 years from the purchase. If its the 2018 model with the 3rd generation butterfly keyboard, then it doesn't qualify for the repair program. Only MBPs from the 2016 and 2017 model years are covered. So far 2018 MBP owners only got from Apple is an apology.
It’s the 2017 model. 2 ports, non Touch Bar.
 
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