MORE THAN A year and a half after some MacBook owners began vociferously complaining about broken MacBook keyboards, Apple is making what it says is a material change in the keyboards in its high-end MacBook Pro laptops. It will also extend its keyboard repair program, in a bid to appease Apple laptop owners who have been frustrated by stuck or double-typing keys.
Apple’s newest MacBook Pros, which are being announced today and include significant bumps in power and performance, are still using Apple’s third-generation “butterfly” keyboard. But the company says these keyboards have a change in the physical material that exists within the butterfly mechanism that will address some of the issues that MacBook users have been experiencing. The company declined to say exactly what the material change was. Last year, Apple updated its MacBook Pros and MacBooks to include a silicone membrane under the keys, which was largely perceived as an effort to prevent dust and debris from making the keyboard unusable.
The company is also changing its keyboard repair program, which it first announced in June of 2018. Previously the repair program would cover 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops going back to 2017, and the 12-inch MacBook going back to early 2015 models. And it only applied to customers who were out of a warranty period. Now it will cover repairs of keyboards on Macs that have been purchased within the past four years, regardless of warranty status. Basically, it will include all keyboards that use Apple’s butterfly mechanism. This also includes MacBook Air keyboards.
The company claims it has sped up the repair times, too, though it declined to give a promised length of repair time or say how it has changed its repair processes.
The keyboard changes are almost certainly the biggest news around these new 2019 MacBooks, since keyboards are an essential part of, well, using a laptop. Apple has maintained that the vast majority of MacBook customers have had positive experiences, but the faulty keyboards have been a black eye for Apple’s iconic product line.
Speed It Up
In addition to the new keyboards, though, the 2019 MacBook Pros with TouchBar are also getting significant speed bumps, in an attempt to make the machines even more worthy of their “pro” moniker and make them more appealing despite their past issues.
The laptops will have eight-core processors for the first time, which Apple claims will make the new machines deliver as much as 40 percent more performance and run apps like Photoshop as much as 75 percent faster, depending on the configuration. The 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with options of a ninth-generation six-core or eight-core Intel processor and Turbo Boost speeds of up to 5.0 gigahertz. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar now has updated, eighth-generation Intel quad-core processors, a bump up from the dual-core processors on the prior models, and Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.7 gigahertz.
Prices for the new MacBook Pros will be unchanged from the previous generation, which means they’ll range from $1,799 for the base-model 13-inch laptop with a TouchBar up to $2,799 for the 15-inch eight-core model with TouchBar. There will also be a model that can be configured up to an Intel ninth-generation Core i9 eight-core processor with 8 gigahertz of Turbo Boost, which will undoubtedly cost in the high thousands.
Unfortunately, none of these speed bumps or material keyboard fixes will apply to the 13-inch MacBook Pro without a TouchBar. (The TouchBar is that touch-sensitive strip of shortcuts and apps that lives above the keyboard on Apple’s highest-end laptops.) The 13-inch MacBook Pro sans TouchBar has always been the most cost-effective option, starting at $1,299; and some critics say that the TouchBar on the more expensive models has been largely superfluous. Apple says it has no updates to share on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.