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New MacBook Pro keyboard features “membrane” to protect from debris

Much has been made about Apple’s softly-softly update to its MacBook Pro range, and an internal document appears to have confirmed that the keyboard on the company’s 2018 models features a “membrane” designed to keep debris out.  

A recent teardown by iFixit revealed a small silicone film behind each keycap, which was thought to be the reason for the company’s claims of the new third-generation keyboard being “quieter”. As well as absorbing some of that switch noise, this should also keep out dust, dirt and Dorito shards.

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And an internal Apple document seen by MacRumors appears to confirm the theory. “The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism,” it states.

A black Panasonic HX580 standing on a white background

iFixit’s teardown pointed not only to the existence of a “thin rubberised layer”, but also to a patent for a “guard structure” designed to “direct contaminants away from the movement mechanism”.

In the US, Apple has found itself on the receiving end of class action lawsuits over the previous generations of MacBook Pros. These allege that the company was aware of that there were issues with dust getting stuck under the keys, but sold the devices anyway. 

Buyers claim they were charged for repairs appointments as usual — only for the same or other keys on the board to become unusable shortly after picking their laptops up from the Genius Bar.

Apple hasn’t yet directly said whether or not the third-gen keyboards were designed to nix this dust issue, and veteran tech writer John Gruber speculates that it probably won’t, for both marketing and legal reasons. However, we’ve contacted the company for confirmation and this article will be updated when it responds.

One thing we can be sure of, by virtue of silicone’s sound absorbing properties, is that those key taps probably will be a bit quieter.

Have you had any issues with the existing MacBook Pro keyboard? Let us know @TrustedReviews.

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