Kuo: Apple to Use New Scissor Switch Keyboard in Future MacBooks, Starting With 2019 MacBook Air Refresh
In a report obtained by MacRumors, Kuo says Apple will instead use a new keyboard design based on scissor switches, which should provide better key travel and durability than the more failure-prone butterfly keyboard.
There have been successful developments in the new scissor keyboard. The new keyboard could improve the typing experience by offering longer key travel and durability by adopting glass fiber to reinforce the keys' structure.
Kuo believes a new scissor switch keyboard will also be used in the MacBook Pro, but not until 2020. Perhaps tellingly, Kuo made no mention of the 16-inch MacBook Pro he has previously suggested Apple will launch later this year.
We believe the partially refreshed MacBook Pro models will also adopt a new scissor keyboard in 2020; shipments of MacBook models equipped with a new scissor keyboard will grow 500–700% YoY in 2020. Though the butterfly keyboard is still thinner than the new scissor keyboard, we think most users can't tell the difference. Furthermore, the new scissor keyboard could offer a better user experience and benefit Apple's profits; therefore, we predict that the butterfly keyboard may finally disappear in the long term.
Apple's butterfly keyboards are highly controversial and have been called out as one of the company's worst design decisions due to their penchant for failure due to small particulates like crumbs or heat issues.
Following years of anecdotal complaints from customers, and a few class action lawsuits, Apple initiated a worldwide service program, offering free repairs of 2015-and-later MacBook and 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro keyboards, which are equipped with low-profile butterfly switch mechanisms.
Apple in 2018 debuted MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models that use an updated third-generation butterfly keyboard. The third-generation keyboard has a thin silicone barrier behind each key, which was put in place as an ingress-proofing measure to prevent dust from getting in the keys.
Clearly the hope was that the updated keyboard would cut down on failures, but the 2018 MacBook Pro is still prone to keyboard issues, and Apple acknowledged as much in March.
Kuo says the new replacement keyboard will be supplied solely by specialist laptop keyboard maker Sunrex rather than Wistron, which currently makes the butterfly keyboards for Apple. The analyst expects the new Sunrex keyboard will go to mass production in 2020 and will make the Taiwan-based firm Apple's most important keyboard supplier.