The 2018 MacBook Pros have an extra layer of silicone under the keys that protects the switch mechanism from gathering dust and eventually, failing.
Apple’s Butterfly keyboard is both amazing and annoying at the same time. The keyboard that features on the MacBooks has excellent feedback but as reported by many, the mechanical keys tend to fail quite often and quite randomly. In the newly announced MacBook Pro 2018, Apple attempted to fix the issue by putting an extra layer of silicon below the keys. iFixit, the popular teardown blog tested the effectiveness of the extra layer and the results were surprising, to say the least.
The silicon membrane below the keys offers an extra padding that make the typing experience much quieter. But the membrane is there for another purpose. To prevent the butterfly mechanism from failing. Apple didn’t reveal or clarify the purpose of the membrane at the launch of the new MacBook Pros. But a new addition to the MacBook Pro’s service document reveals the layer is indeed placed to keep the keyboard from failing when dust and debris enter the Butterfly mechanism. The text in the service document reads – “The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. Be careful not to tear the membrane. A torn membrane will result in a top case replacement.”
Now, iFixit tested how effective the membrane is by exposing the keyboard to a number of situations that could hinder its functionality. First, the keyboard was exposed to paint additive. It contains finely powdered substance which surprisingly didn’t breach the membrane and was kept away from the switches below the keys. Next, the team added more particulate matter and simulated “aggressive typing”. That action did allow the dust to get inside the switch mechanism. The keyboard continued to work, though. Finally, the keyboard was exposed to sand which did seem to kill off some of the keys.
In conclusion, iFixit states the silicon membrane does a “decent job protecting against dust, at least in the short term, but larger particles may still be an issue.” Clearly, Apple has done its part in addressing the keyboard failures that put the company in the middle of multiple lawsuits. The 2018 MacBook Pros will be good for users who are clumsy and tend to use their devices in dusty environments or while eating. Although, a persistent exposure to such situations might cause the keyboard to fail.
Apple never admitted publicly that the silicon barrier is its way of addressing the issue of keyboard failure. Yet, the extra layer comes off as a simple solution for a problem that’s both common and inevitable.
The new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros launched in India this month. For the first time, Apple now allows buyers to customise the hardware configuration. You can upgrade the RAM, processor, storage and the graphics card of the laptop. The MacBook Pro 2018 runs on 8th Gen Intel Core processors and features the new True Tone Retina display and the Touch Bar. It also sports the T2 chip for added security. The chip also allows users to invoke Siri by using the “Hey Siri” command for the first time on a MacBook.
The 13-inch variant starts from Rs 1,49,900 while the 15-inch model starts from Rs 1,99,900. Apple will make the devices available via select authorised retailers from later this month.