iFixit examines the 16-inch MacBook Pro's 'throwback' keyboard design

Nathan Ingraham
Deputy Managing Editor
iFixit

From the time we spent with Apple's just-announced 16-inch MacBook Pro, it was obvious that the shallow, unreliable butterfly keyboard design was out and scissor switches were back in. (It didn't hurt that Apple has confirmed the changes on the new MacBook Pro's product page.) But naturally, the teardown team at iFixit was bound to get their hands on the 16-inch MacBook Pro and see exactly how its keyboard compares to ones that came before it. Well, they've just published their results -- and just as expected, the new keyboard is nearly identical to the one in the 2015 MacBook Pro as well as Apple's external Bluetooth Magic Keyboard. That's great news for anyone in the market for a new Apple laptop.

iFixit's story is a good read if you want to get the full, sad tale of the rise and fall of Apple's laptop keyboards. Long story short, Apple replaced the comfortable, highly-lauded keyboard in the MacBook Pro in the fall of 2016, bringing over the thin, butterfly-switch keyboard it originally introduced in the tiny 12-inch MacBook in 2015. People were pretty quickly divided about the new keyboard's shallow travel and rather loud typing sound, but the bigger issue was undoubtably a reliability one. Keys were liable to get stuck or repeat characters if even a small piece of dust or a crumb got in there the right way, and getting them fixed required taking apart the entire laptop. It was, in short, a fiasco.

Apple tried to make the keys more reliable over a few revisions of the butterfly keyboard mechanism, and it also guaranteed to replace any computer with that keyboard if there were issues even after the warranty expired. My own experience with Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro from this year is that the keyboard is now much more reliable than previous models I've tried -- but it does seem the keyboard is inherently flawed.

It's thus a huge relief that they've gone back to the scissor-style keyboard design, which means more travel and easier repairability. If you want to get up-close and personal with Apple's various keyboard designs over the last few years, definitely check out the photography over at iFixit. We'll have a full review of the new MacBook Pro soon, but in the meantime you can at the very least rest assured that the keyboard is a huge step forward. Now we'll just have to wait for Apple to bring it to the rest of its MacBook lineup.