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Macbook Pro: Does Apple have a problem with defective keyboards due to dust getting stuck?

Macbook Pro: Does Apple have a problem with defective keyboards due to dust getting stuck?
Macbook Pro: Does Apple have a problem with defective keyboards due to dust getting stuck?
Since 2015, Apple has one by one changed the keyboards on its Mac-products to the new Butterfly-design, a precess accompanied with much interest but also criticism. The new design helped Apple in their pursuit for thinner and thinner products, but now it seems that the new design has a reliability problem: Some users experience problems with dust and dirt getting stuck beneath keys.
Benjamin Herzig,

Keyboards are one of the PC-components that have changed very little for decades. In the last years, the outer design has changed: Chiclet-keys have replaced the Classical beveled keys. But the key-mechanism used in Notebooks is still the same: Scissor switch. This design allows a thinner construction compared with regular desktop keyboards.

In 2015, Apple released a new keyboard-mechanism design. Scissor switch keys still require a certain thickness and the new system that Apple released, the original 12" Macbook, didn´t have the thickness. Thus the Butterfly-key-mechanism was developed. This new key-design is an evolution of Scissor Switch and it allows a much thinner construction. One year later, Apple released new Macbook Pro models with an improved version of the Butterfly-switches, like the Macbook Pro 13 and Macbook Pro 15.

Preferences in keyboards and typing-feel is always subjective, though there is no doubt that the new Macbook-keyboard has a strange feel compared with other keyboards – either you love it or hate it and you have to get used to it. Below is a Notebookcheck video demonstrating the new keyboard in action, with a comparison to the old Macbook-keyboard and a regular desktop keyboard.

But the short travel and the delicate mechanism seems to have another disadvantage: Apparently, the keys are very sensitive towards dirt and dust, the keys tend to get stuck.

One example comes from the journalist Casey Johnston of In her article titled "The new Macbook keyboard is ruining my life - it is so bad", she reports that she had to bring her Macbook Pro three times to the Apples store already. Every time a key was stuck. It seems she isn´t the only one: Apple has a tutorial on his support-site, which describes how affected customers can try to solve the problem by using compressed air. And there are plenty reports of this problem in the Apple support forums.

With scissor switch, the user can carefully remove the key-cap if a similar problem happens. The new Butterfly-keys are so delicate however that they will most certainly break when you try to remove a key. Due to tighter gaps, dirt is less likely to get under the keys. However, if the dirt is in there, its very difficult to remove.

This ties in with another problem: The keyboards are not replaceable without removing the entire top-case, which apparently is a 700 $ replacement.


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Benjamin Herzig
Benjamin Herzig - Managing Editor - 965 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2016
I was an ardent reader of Notebookcheck’s laptop reviews even back in school. After writing reviews as a hobby, I then joined Notebookcheck in 2016 and have worked on device reviews and news articles ever since then. My personal interest lies more with laptops than smartphones, with business laptops being the most interesting category for me. Technology should make our lives and work easier and good laptops are an essential tool for that to happen. This is why laptop reviews are not just my work but are also my passion.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2017 10 > Macbook Pro: Does Apple have a problem with defective keyboards due to dust getting stuck?
Benjamin Herzig, 2017-10-18 (Update: 2017-10-18)