Gadgets for humans

Rumor: Apple to phase out the loathed butterfly MacBook keyboard this year

It's about time.


For a company that defines itself by design, the ill-fated “butterfly keyboard” has been nothing shy of disastrous. Since Apple introduced it in 2016 through the refreshed MacBook Pro, irate users have complained of near non-existent key travel, noise, and faulty key switches which can only be repaired through major surgery.

Fortunately, it seems like Apple’s about to about-face, according to a report from legendary (and reliable) Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

The report, which was obtained by MacRumors, says Apple will gradually return to a traditional scissor switch-based keyboard mechanism this year, starting with the refreshed MacBook Air.

Highlighting the advances in scissor switch technology, Kuo hypothesized that the new keyboard would be more pleasant to use – and crucially, more reliable.

“There have been successful developments in the new scissor keyboard. The new keyboard could improve the typing experience by offering longer key travel and durability by adopting glass fiber to reinforce the keys’ structure,” he wrote.

Kuo reckons the new keyboard design will also appear on the MacBook Pro, but not until 2020.

That’s interesting because, as MacRumors points out, Apple is expected to release a 16-inch MacBook Pro later this year.

Is this the last hurrah of the hated butterfly keyboard? And given this rumor, how will that affect sales? Will punters avoid this new model, simply so they can get a computer with a keyboard that’s…. y’know… good?

Reading between the lines, you can tell that Kuo thinks so. “Shipments of MacBook models equipped with a new scissor keyboard will grow 500–700% YoY in 2020,” he predicted.

“Though the butterfly keyboard is still thinner than the new scissor keyboard, we think most users can’t tell the difference. Furthermore, the new scissor keyboard could offer a better user experience and benefit Apple’s profits; therefore, we predict that the butterfly keyboard may finally disappear in the long term,” Kuo added.

The Butterfly Keyboard was nothing short of a disaster for Apple, and it dented its esteem among its power users, who have traditionally represented a disproportionate amount of its user base. The faulty design inspired lawsuits, a hastily-launched replacement program, and even a (totally hilarious) song.

Few people will be glad to see it go. And Apple, if you’re listening, maybe consider bringing some full-sized USB ports back. Pretty please?

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Published July 4, 2019 — 12:26 UTC