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MacBook Air teardown confirms butterfly keyboards weren’t worth hassle

Apple’s experiments with the troublesome butterfly keyboard mechanism are thankfully coming to an end, but a teardown of the new MacBook Air (2020) is enough to make you wonder why the company persevered with it for so long.

The good folks at iFixit disassembled the new ultra-portable laptop and found the new (old) Magic Keyboard scissor key design has a height differential of just 0.5 millimetres.

So, Apple persevered with that flawed design for years, through multiple equally troublesome iterations, for the sake of half a millimetre.

“More than anything, that 0.5 mm illustrates the sheer unnecessary-ness of the five painful years that Mac fans spent smashing on unresponsive butterfly keyboards,” iFixit says in its report on the teardown.

“Knowing that Apple’s thinnest-and-lightest notebook accommodates a scissor-switch keyboard so gracefully makes us wonder what it was all for.”

Related: MacBook Air 2020 vs MacBook Pro 2019

Thankfully, it’s something buyers of new MacBooks won’t have to worry about moving forward. The scissor-switch keyboard, which made a comeback on the 2019 MacBook Pro, has more travel than its predecessor. It’s also much more cushioned compared to the practically flat butterfly mechanism that forced Apple into launching a free repair program for, due to perennially sticky keys.

Of the new keyboard design, our own Max Parker wrote: “It really is a pleasure to type on and a massive improvement if you dislike the previous keyboard.”

It’s not all good news from the teardown though, iFixit still only affords the laptop a 4/10 rating for repairability. While not world beating, it’s up from the 3/10 the previous generation laptop received from the global leaders in purposely breaking stuff.

The new ultra-portable laptop retains the design and Retina display of the previous version, but significantly boosts processing speeds thanks to the 10th Generation Intel Core processor and base storage of 256GB SSD.

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