We’ve seen a lot of complaints from users about the slim “butterfly” key-switch mechanism that features on recent MacBook models, and a new report suggests their frustration is justified.
According to Apple Insider, which collected and analysed data from Apple Genius Bars and Apple-authorised third-party repair shops, the 2016 MacBook Pro butterfly key-switch keyboard fails around twice as often as the traditional scissor-style keyboard on older MacBooks.
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The publication collected service data from the first year of release for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 MacBook Pros, and as much data as possible for the 2017 MacBook Pro, which hasn’t been on the market for a full 12 months yet.
5.6% of first-year service events for the 2014 MacBook Pro were related to keyboard issues. This figure was 6% for the 2015 model. Both laptops use a traditional-style keyboard.
The proportion doubled to 11.8% for the 2016 MacBook Pro, which uses a butterfly key-switch mechanism. For the 2017 model, 8.1% of service events so far have concerned keyboard issues.
What’s more, as well as being more prone to failure, it appears that the new key design is also trickier to repair.
Eight of the 118 2014 MacBook Pro models that needed a keyboard repair were brought back for a second repair within 90 days. For the 2015 MacBook Pro, the same applied to six out of 114. None came back for a third fix.
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However, for the 2016 MacBook Pro, things took a turn for the worse, with 51 out of 165 keyboard repairs requiring a second look within 90 days. 10 came back for a third repair. For the 2017 MacBook Pro, the figure was slightly less bad, with 17 out of 94 returning once, and three returning twice.
If you want a MacBook Pro with a reliable keyboard, it seems you might be best off swerving the very latest models.
Have you experienced any issues with the butterfly key-switch mechanism? Share your thoughts @TrustedReviews.