Apple recently refreshed its MacBook Pro Touch Bar variants with faster Intel Core processors and an updated version of its “butterfly” keyboard. Apple told select media outlets that the notorious “butterfly” mechanism that has been a problem for a large number of MacBook users has been tweaked specifically in the 2019 MacBook Pro models to ensure long-term reliability. Now, iFixit has done a teardown to really see how much has changed inside the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar model. It especially details all the changes that come with the new butterfly keyboard, and all the new materials that have been integrated.
The iFixit teardown reveals that the Apple has changed the transparent switch cover material inside each key, and it is now clearer and smooth to the touch. This is also referred to as the plastic membrane. The 2018 switch cover is semi-opaque, somewhat tacky, and feels like silicone. iFixit did some research and says that the 2019 switch cover is made from a material called polyamide (commonly known as Nylon), while the 2018 model is either poly(acetylene) with aromatic urethane side groups, or a type of TPU. iFixit does not detail on how this updated material fixes issues with the butterfly keyboard of last year.
The metal dome switch that forces a key press may also have changed, and its reported to be made of stainless steel with a thin polymer coating at the bottom. The difference in surface finish from the 2018 version to the 2019 indicates Apple may be using a revised heat treatment, or alloy, or possibly both. The company has also changed the spring itself, which is what iFixit editor-in-chief Kyle Wiens suspects is the part responsible for the double keypress issue.
Apart from this, there isn’t much that has changed internally. The key cap hides a hinged white bracket controlling the key’s motion, and a transparent cover that flexes with each key press preventing dirt from trickling in.
The refreshed laptop still has a fundamental problem – the processor, RAM, and flash memory are soldered to the logic board making repairs and upgrades impractical. “The top case assembly, including the keyboard, battery, speakers, and Touch Bar, is glued together—making all those components impractical to replace separately,” the report adds. iFixit gave it a repairability score of 1 out of 10. Wiens comments, “Without doing Apple’s job for them, I can’t predict whether this change fixes the problem. It probably will help. But would I buy this computer? No way. This design has lost all credibility. It’s time to go back to a tried-and true mechanism. Thinner is not better!”