Data Backs MacBook Pro Keyboard Problems: What’s New & What’s Next for Apple

There is a problem with the MacBook Pro keyboard. Apple changed the design of the MacBook Pro keyboard in 2016, switching to a new style that brought immediate complaints over key travel and how loud the keyboard was, and that was just the start.

After nearly two years in use, there are a growing number of complaints from users who are suffering from a broken MacBook Pro keyboard due to dust or a small speck of debris getting under a key. These are not isolated reports.

This is what’s going on with the MacBook Pro keyboard, and what it means for buyers looking at the 2017 MacBook Pro or waiting for the 2018 MacBook Pro.

Complaints & Data

High profile complaints from The Outline, Casey Neistat and Gizmodo are now joined by a petition asking Apple to recall all the 2016 MacBook Pro laptops. These anecdotal reports are now backed up by data leaked from Apple Genius bars and Authorized Repair centers.

An AppleInsider investigation discovered that 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard problems accounted for twice the percentage of fixes during the first year compared to the 2014 and 2015 models. As Daring Fireball clarifies, this is not showing that the keyboard fails twice as much as the earlier models, just that when a 2016 MacBook Pro comes in for warranty work, it is more likely to be for a keyboard issue.

On the other side of the issue, Rene Ritchie of iMore and Mathew Panzarino of TechCrunch report no major issues.

Changes & Fixes

What you need to know about the MacBook Pro keyboard.
What you need to know about the MacBook Pro keyboard.

Apple already changed the MacBook Pro keyboard, switching the design up slightly for the 2017 model. iFixit specifically calls out the newer model as having a, “more classic switch,” and suggests the change was for, “reinforcement for repeated use.”

While Apple offers a Battery Replacement program for the 2016 MacBook Pro, the company has not publicly addressed the keyboard on the 2016 MacBook Pro.

The limited data in AppleInsider’s data set and iFixit’s findings do suggest that Apple made an important change that fixed the biggest issue with the 2016 model. While this doesn’t address the high cost of repairing the keyboard that users will need to pay out-of-pocket if they don’t have AppleCare, it is good news for users looking to buy a new MacBook pro today.

What’s Next

In June at WWDC 2018 Apple will likely announce a 2018 MacBook Pro, along with a 2018 MacBook and possibly a 2018 MacBook Air. While all signs point to the same overall design for these notebooks, Apple could use this refresh to further update the keyboard. There are two routes Apple could take if this happens. The company could make a big deal about the new keyboard, or they may simply introduce small tweaks that we don’t learn about until iFixit tears down the newest model.

If you are concerned about the state of the MacBook Pro keyboard it is a good idea to wait and see what Apple announces next month or to buy AppleCare so that your purchase is protected for the longest amount of time.

Should I Wait for the 2018 MacBook Pro or Buy One Today?

Wait for the 2018 MacBook Pro for Better Performance

Wait for the 2018 MacBook Pro for Better Performance

The 2018 MacBook Pro will likely come with big improvements to performance thanks to new Intel processors and more RAM. 

Apple will likely switch to Intel Coffee Lake processors with the new models, which means the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018 model should come with a quad-core processor. This is good news for users who like portability, but want more power. This could also deliver a 6-core processor option for the 15-inch MacBook Pro this year with a Core i9 processor that will deliver a lot of power for mobile users.

Intel's new processors reportedly offer a 30% boost in performance over the processors in the 2017 models. We may also see better battery life come from efficiency improvements. Surprisingly Coffee Lake processors don't support LPDDR4 RAM, so don't expect a 32GB RAM option this year. 

While there are some rumors Apple is working on their own processors for laptops, like they do for iPhone and iPad, don't expect to see that happen this year as a full processor. Count on seeing it there as a co-processor though.

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