Apple is planning to ditch the controversial butterfly keyboard used in its MacBooks since 2015, according to a new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. 9to5Mac notes that Apple will reportedly move to a new scissor-switch design, which will use glass fiber to reinforce its keys. According to Kuo’s report, the first laptop to get the new keyboard will be a new MacBook Air model due out this year, followed by a new MacBook Pro in 2020. “We predict that the butterfly keyboard may finally disappear in the long term,” Kuo says.
Despite tweaking the design of its butterfly keyboards with each subsequent MacBook, Apple has struggled to overcome the keyboard’s problems, which can see keys act erratically or completely stop working as dust and other particles find their way into the mechanism. The company apologized for the keyboard’s reliability issues earlier this year, when it admitted that a “small number” of users were experiencing issues with the keyboard, then in its third generation, and the company has also launched an extended repairs program for earlier versions of the keyboard.
Cost, durability, and an improved typing experience are reasons for the switch
Kuo cites a couple of different reasons why Apple is switching keyboard designs. As well as being more durable thanks to the glass fiber reinforcement, MacRumors quotes him as saying the new keyboard “could improve the typing experience by offering longer key travel.” Kuo also says that the butterfly switch design is expensive for the company to manufacture due to its low yields. However, although the new scissor switch design will reportedly be cheaper, it won’t be as cheap as an average laptop keyboard, according to Kuo.
In spite of its issues, the the butterfly keyboard has the advantage of being very thin, which is important when space is at such a premium in a modern laptop. Although Kuo admits that the new switch design, which will be constructed by the Taiwan-based manufacturer Sunrex, is likely to be thicker, he says that “most users can’t tell the difference.”
Unfortunately, the report suggests that the new keyboard won’t make it into this year’s rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is expected to be announced this September. Nor would it make it into the updated version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro that’s also been rumored.