Apple butterfly mechanism
|Switch type||Tactile metal dome with levelling mechanism|
|Sense method||Metal contact on PCB|
|Actuation force||70 cN|
|Patents||US20140116865 A1 (applied for in 2014)|
Apple butterfly mechanism is mechanism for a type of scissor switch where the hinge is made of rubber double-shot moulded with the legs. This single-part design improves stability and reduces thickness for extremely low-profile keyboards compared to mechanical hinges.
The 2016 MacBook Pro (13 and 15-inch, with or without touch bar) come with an updated mechanism. The keys are taller at the edges making them easier to find by feel. The metal dome is heftier and mounted to the keycap.
The 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard got a protective membrane over the dome switch. According to Apple, it was added to reduce noise but it has been speculated that the real reason was to avoid failure in the "butterfly" mechanism from exposure to dust.
When announcing the 2019 MacBook Pro, Apple told that the keyboard was slightly changed so as to be less susceptible to problems such as keys becoming unresponsive or chattering. iFixit showed that the protective membrane got changed from a poly-acetylene to a thicker layer of polyamide (nylon).
It got discontinued for new MacBook models in late 2019. It was replaced with more traditional scissor switches with rubber domes, called Magic Keyboard like the keyboards for contemporary desktop Macintoshes.
The MacBook "butterfly" keyboards are infamous for bad reliability.
The 2016 MacBook Pro keyboards supposedly fail twice as often in the first year of use as previous types of MacBook Pro keyboards that have a more conventional scissor switch/rubber dome design. The keyboards are also more expensive to repair, in part because how they are mounted within the laptop enclosures.
In 2019, Apple announced that it would fix faulty keyboards in certain models (stretching from 2015 to 2019), at no expense to the owner.
Because of reliability issues, a group of MacBook owners filed lawsuit against Apple in 2018. It got certified as a Class Action suit in March 2021.
- Apple — Apple Unveils All-New MacBook Dated 2015-03-09. Retrieved 2015-07-23.
- Ars Technica live blog — Hello Again: Apple’s October 2016 Mac event Dated 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
- iFixit — MacBook Pro 13" Function Keys Late 2016 Teardown. Dated 2016-11-01. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
- IFixit blog—Anatomy of a Butterfly (Keyboard)—Teardown Style, by Sam Lionheart. Dated 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2018-10-16
- MacWorld magazine—. Dated 2019-05-21.
- iFixit Video on Youtube—We Found the "New Material" in Apple's Fourth Butterfly Keyboard. Posted 2019-05-24.
- Apple Insider magazine— 2016 MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards failing twice as frequently as older models. By Mike Wierthele. Dated 2018-04-30. Retrieved 2018-05-08
- The Verge.com—Angry MacBook owners get class action status for butterfly keyboard suit. Dated 2021-03-22. Retrieved 2021-03-22
- Looks like "Contamination Shields" are back, this time with Apple. Started 2018-07-14
- New Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. Started 2016-10-27
- Wall Street Journal—Appl Still Hasn’t Fixd Its MacBook Kyboad Problm (2019-03-27)