Apple Confirms 2018 MacBook Pro Design Fixes Craptastic Butterfly Keyboard Problems

Apple has finally come clean about the keyboard on its 2018 MacBook Pro notebooks. Although we all knew why Apple put a silicon membrane under the key cap, the only "perk" that the company mentioned when announcing the new family of notebooks was that it is now quieter than the previous generation.

However, a new leaked internal document confirms what iFixitfound after it began dissecting the 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro: it's meant to prevent keyboard failures from occurring on customer machines. The document specifically states:

Keyboard and Keycaps

The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. The procedure for the space bar replacement has also changed from the previous model. Repair documentation and service videos will be available when keycap parts begin shipping.

The above language some from a repair document (for Canadian and European markets) that was obtained by MacRumors. There's a separate entry in the documentation pertaining to U.S. repairs which states:

Caution: The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. Be careful not to tear the membrane. A torn membrane will result in a top case replacement.

It's interesting that Apple is acknowledging this "fix" internally, but is not projecting this good news to the public as well. Perhaps the company is looking to divert as much attention away from the issue as possible. Regardless, it's good to hear that customers that purchase 2018 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros will have a keyboard that should be far more reliable than their 2016 and 2017 predecessors. Those notebooks were often stymied by a single speck of dust or grain of sand, which could in many cases result in an expensive repair that required the entire top case to be replaced.

macbook pro 2018 keyboard
The new third-generation butterfly keyboard with silicon membrane under the key caps.

Somewhat surprisingly, Apple also has confirmed that these new third-generation keyboards with the silicon membrane will not be used to repair older MacBook Pro models with failing keyboards. Instead those machines will be repaired with the same faulty parts (again and again depending on the recurrence of failures) until a customer no longer qualifies for the [free] Keyboard Service Program.

In other news, while Apple seems to have solved one problem with its 2018 MacBook Pros, it has sparked another with its decision to use Intel Coffee Lake Core i7 and Core i9 processors. The relatively thin aluminum chassis is unable to tame the heat generated by the Core i9 processor, causing it to throttle severely under load, reducing performance.