Apple’s Upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pro Will Ditch the Butterfly Keyboard

16 Inch Macbook Pro Concept Credit: Viktor Kadar
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Apple plans on adopting a new keyboard in its upcoming MacBook Pro that will ditch the butterfly design in favor of a new scissor mechanism, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a new report.

Kuo had previously predicted that a new 16-inch MacBook Pro would be coming as soon as the fourth quarter of the year. He also predicted that Apple could switch to a new scissor-based keyboard on its MacBook Pro in 2020.

Now, it looks like a new MacBook Pro keyboard may be coming sooner than that.

New Scissor Keyboards

In an investors’ note sent out on Thursday, Kuo revised his forecast of the 2019 MacBook Pro refresh to include the scissor keyboard mechanism.

As far as what the new scissor mechanism entails, Kuo previously said that the new keyboards will offer an improved typing experience with longer key travel and better durability. Its robustness will be due, in part, to new reinforced glass fiber construction.

Interestingly, while the scissor mechanism will be a bit thicker than current butterfly keyboards, Kuo said that “most” users won’t be able to tell the difference. That suggests that Apple may be developing a scissor switch that’s slimmer than most current iterations of the technology.

Additionally, there’s other evidence suggesting that this won’t be your run-of-the-mill scissor switch keyboard. Kuo says that Apple’s higher standards mean that the average selling price for the keyboard could be $25 to $30. That’s quite a bit higher than the usual ASP of $8 to $12 for most modern scissor keyboards.

Sunrex, a Taiwan-based manufacturer, is expected to be Apple’s primary supplier of the new scissor-based keyboards.

Apple’s Butterfly Problems

A switch to a scissor-based keyboard seems likely to be Apple’s response to widespread complaints about its butterfly keyboard.

The butterfly keyboard first debuted back in 2015 on the 12-inch MacBook. It’s a clever yet contentious design that allowed Apple to reduce the thickness of its notebooks — and it’s shown up in every Mac portable since the first-generation 12-inch MacBook.

But aside from complaints about key travel and clickiness, the butterfly keyboard appears to be more prone to failure than traditional scissor keyboards. That has lead Apple to revise the keyboard design several times over the past few years, though none of those redesigns have fixed the issue entirely.

It isn’t clear what exactly causes the butterfly mechanism to fail. Users have long suspected it to be dust or other debris, but long-term heat damage could also be a culprit (due to the thermal performance of most Mac notebooks).

In the face of widespread user complaints and legal actions, Apple started a repair program covering butterfly keyboard-equipped MacBooks.

Under that program, the Cupertino tech giant will replace any failing butterfly keyboard at no cost to the user — up to four years from a Mac’s original purchase date.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro

In addition to a new and hopefully more durable keyboard, the 2016 MacBook Pro is also expected to feature a new 16-inch display with thinner bezels and a resolution of 3027 x 1920. Kuo thinks it could be released alongside 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models.

The new keyboard mechanism was first expected to be used in an upcoming MacBook Air refresh, but Kuo expects Apple to use it in all MacBook Pro devices going forward.

Kuo forecasts that the 16-inch MacBook Pro will debut in the fourth quarter of the year, which starts in October.

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