New MacBook Air and Base 13-Inch MacBook Pro Have Same Keyboard as Higher-End 2019 MacBook Pros

Jul 9, 2019 10:13 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Good news: both the new MacBook Air and the new entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro models introduced today have the same third-generation butterfly keyboard design with an updated material as the higher-end 2019 MacBook Pro models introduced in May, we've confirmed directly.

Apple previously said the new material should substantially reduce issues that some users have experienced with its butterfly keyboards in recent MacBooks, according to The Loop. Apple apologized for the issues in March, but it continues to insist that a "small percentage" of customers are affected.

Apple has not elaborated on the new material, but the repair experts at iFixit completed a teardown of the 2019 MacBook Pro and discovered a "subtle change" made to the silicone membrane covering the keyboard switches.

Whereas the membrane in the 2018 ‌MacBook Pro‌ is "semi-opaque" and "feels like silicone," iFixit said the cover in the 2019 model is "clearer and smooth to the touch." Based on infrared analysis, it appears the 2018 membrane was made with polyacetylene, while the 2019 covers uses polyamide, aka nylon.

Despite the new material, Apple has added all 2019 MacBook Air and 13-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ models, including today's refreshed entry-level configuration, to its keyboard service program — hopefully out of an abundance of caution.

This means any 2019 ‌MacBook Air‌, 13-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, or any Mac with a butterfly keyboard that experiences keyboard issues such as sticky or inconsistently responding keys qualify for free repairs from Apple for up to four years after the original purchase date worldwide, regardless of warranty status.

With the 12-inch MacBook having been discontinued today, this means every notebook that Apple sells today features this new material for improved reliability. Whether the new material actually cuts down on the issues or not remains to be seen, as the sticky or repeating keys often take time to manifest.

Looking forward, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple plans to adopt a new scissor keyboard in future MacBooks, including a new ‌MacBook Air‌ later in 2019 and a new ‌MacBook Pro‌ in 2020. While the ‌MacBook Air‌ was updated today, the only change was a True Tone display, so a processor refresh could still follow this fall along with the new keyboard if Apple finally plans to ditch the butterfly mechanism.

To initiate a keyboard repair, visit the Get Support page on Apple's website to book a Genius Bar or Apple Authorized Service Provider appointment.

Related Roundups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

7 months ago
In the meantime, Apple is reserving scissor keyboard for a major update as a groundbreaking revolutionary feature
Rating: 56 Votes
7 months ago

Good news: both the new MacBook Air ('') and the new entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro ('') models introduced today

"Good news"?

I would consider it disappointing news. Until the keyboard returns to scissor switches next year, there isn't any good news to share.
Rating: 34 Votes
7 months ago
They're probably using up their remaining stock of keyboards before they switch to the new ones.
Rating: 30 Votes
7 months ago
How widespread are these keyboard issues, really? I'm acting as local IT in my department, we have tons of MacBook 12-inches, tons of MacBook Pro 13-inches and a few MacBook Pro 15-inches all with these keyboards. None are newer than mid-2018 models so no one is having the latest revision of these keyboards either and all machines are being used daily, most of them a lot "on-the-road" and there has been zero issues with the keyboards?

I do agree that they aren't the best to type own, you need a certain amount of travel and these are just not providing it. But in-terms of reliability we haven't had any issues. I understand that Apple has return programs for them, so there are obviously some issues but as soon as Apple starts with these return program's it seems like everyone and their mother starts to act like every single keyboard is bad which is clearly not the case.
Rating: 28 Votes
7 months ago

Rating: 26 Votes
7 months ago
Another dud then with the faulty kb's. No thanks Apple.
Rating: 26 Votes
7 months ago
From the perfect keyboard of my ten year old MBP I chuckle at Apple's four year repairs programme. Call me when they get those new designs in next year..
Rating: 24 Votes
7 months ago
Not going near any MBP at this point that has a TB or butterfly keyboard. If and when Apple ever pull their heads from their collective butt and fix the keyboard, the resale value of any MBP with a defective keyboard design is going to plummet. In fact reselling one now is already difficult because people assume your keyboard is broken.
Rating: 19 Votes
7 months ago

Well, you know, everyone wants to feel as though they are Tim Cook themselves, so all of the individuals who had no plans of purchasing anything in the first place have to let us know loudly what they “absolutely under no circumstances” aren’t going to purchase

In all seriousness the computer I'm typing on right now is a 13" MBP from 2009. It works perfectly in every way and runs well after an SSD and ram upgrade a few years ago, but in any ordinary universe I'd probably have upgraded it by now. However, due to the fact that we've fallen into an alternate timeline where Apple can no longer produce a notebook keyboard that doesn't feel horrible or require an ongoing maintenance programme, I've every intention of hanging on to it for another couple of years, and have just put High Sierra onto it to stay a little more current.

Whoever dreamt up the butterfly keyboard has cost Apple dearly I think.
Rating: 18 Votes
7 months ago


You mean Scissor? Butterfly is the mechanism that has been causing all these troubles.
Rating: 14 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]