Apple Expected to Adopt Keyboard With Scissor Mechanism for Upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pro

Apple is planning to use a scissor mechanism rather than a butterfly mechanism for its upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors.

Kuo continues to believe the 16-inch MacBook Pro will come in the fourth quarter of 2019, and now, he says Apple will use the more durable scissor mechanism that he previously said would not be used in the MacBook Pro lineup until 2020.

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We have revised our prediction that the keyboard of the 16-inch MacBook Pro that will launch in 4Q19 will feature the scissor mechanism instead of the butterfly mechanism. The refresh versions of other MacBook models in 2020 will change to adopt the scissor mechanism keyboard, too. We estimate that shipments of MacBook models that choose scissor mechanism keyboards will reach 400k, 10mn, and 16mnunits, respectively.

Kuo believes that after the 16-inch MacBook Pro launches, future Macs coming in 2020 will also swap over to a scissor mechanism rather than a butterfly mechanism, resulting in more durable keyboards that are not as prone to failure from heat, dust and other small particulates.

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A chart from Kuo listing a launch timeline for new Macs with the scissor keyboard. Click to enlarge.

In a previous note, Kuo said that the scissor mechanism that Apple will use will improve the typing experience by offering longer key travel and better durability by adopting a glass fiber for a reinforced structure. A keyboard with a scissor mechanism will be thicker than the butterfly keyboard, but Kuo believes that most users won't be able to tell the difference.

Kuo says that Apple's higher requirements for the scissor keyboard will result in an average selling price of $25 to $30 for the keyboard component, higher than the general ASP of $8 to $12 for this kind of keyboard. Apple supplier Sunrex is expected to provide scissor-based keyboards for the company.

Apple switched over to a thinner keyboard with a butterfly mechanism in the 2015 MacBook, and has since used the same butterfly keyboard in all of its notebook refreshes.

The butterfly keyboard has been prone to failure, despite several design revisions. Apple's newest Mac notebooks use an updated third-generation butterfly keyboard that is supposed to cut down on failure rates with a membrane and new build materials, but Apple has not been able to solve the butterfly keyboard problem entirely.

Negative public opinion, multiple lawsuits, and ongoing issues with all keyboards in Mac notebooks released since 2015 have led Apple to launch a keyboard repair program that applies to all Macs with a butterfly keyboard, including 2019 models.

Apple will repair all butterfly keyboards that experience issues at no cost for four years from the Mac's original date of purchase, but the problem won't be fixed until Apple swaps over to a new keyboard design that's more durable.

Though Apple already refreshed the MacBook Pro in May and July with updated processors, a Touch Bar for the entry-level machines, and other improvements, rumors about a second refresh in 2019 continue to persist. Apple is said to be working on the aforementioned 16-inch MacBook Pro, which could perhaps launch as soon as September or October.

Along with a scissor keyboard mechanism, rumors have suggested the new 16-inch MacBook Pro will have a 3072 x 1920 display with slimmer bezels than the current MacBook Pro models. Kuo's note suggests that the new machine will perhaps be sold alongside existing 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models going forward.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro 14 & 16"
Related Forum: MacBook Pro

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Top Rated Comments

MacFather Avatar
63 months ago
Deleted.
Score: 66 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yAak Avatar
63 months ago
Ah, the good old days:

Seriously, if they'd just replace FW and TB for TB3/USB-C and it'd be heaven right there.
We miss, you, MagSafe!
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Darth Tulhu Avatar
63 months ago
Bring back all the useful ports, while you're at it.

Ah, the good old days:

Seriously, if they'd just replace FW and TB for TB3/USB-C and it'd be heaven right there.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
longofest Avatar
63 months ago
Next can we bring back magsafe?
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
eatrains Avatar
63 months ago
The butterfly isn't inherently bad. The precision and stability of the 2016-era keyboard are great. They just need to be more reliable and have more travel. I hope they don't throw the baby out with the bathwater...
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Freida Avatar
63 months ago
Apple innovation failed. Back to the proven tech :)
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)