Why You Shouldn’t Buy the New Apple Keyboard

Earlier this week, Apple introduced some new accessories for Mac, including a new mouse, trackpad, and keyboard, all of which got some great updates. However, here’s why you shouldn’t buy the new Apple keyboard.

All three accessories comes with some new features and improvements. The new Magic Mouse keeps the same overall design as before, but now includes an internal battery that you can charge with a Lightning cable, instead of having to use regular alkaline batteries that would need replaced.

The Magic Trackpad also received a healthy update, now including Force Touch, which allows you to tap or click to select or open something, as well as press harder to bring up alternative options and shortcuts, similar to how 3D Touch works on the iPhone 6s.

Lastly, the new Magic Keyboard has received a generous refresh, coming with a slightly new design that shrinks the keyboard’s footprint compared to the last generation, and now includes the same keys as the new 12-inch MacBook that released earlier this year.

Read: Early Magic Keyboard Review & Comparison

However, the new features on the new Apple Magic Keyboard may not be your cup of tea, and there are actually many reasons why you may not want to upgrade to the new keyboard. Here’s why you shouldn’t buy the new Apple keyboard.

Reduced Key Travel

Apple introduced an all-new keyboard on its new 12-inch MacBook earlier this year. While the new keyboard uses metal parts instead of plastic and silicone, there’s also less key travel.

Apple Magic Keyboard vs Apple Wireless Keyboard - 5

Key travel is the motion that it takes to press down a key. The more that it presses down, the more key travel that it has. For example, typewriters have a lot of key travel, while laptop keyboards have less key travel.

So what’s so important about key travel in this case? If you think that the key travel on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are already at minimums, it’s even less on the new 12-inch MacBook. This can make typing a bit weird at first, and while I’m sure you’d eventually get used to it, you might prefer more key travel. It’s really just a preference thing anyway.

However, it’s bit odd that Apple’s new Magic Keyboard come with less key travel this time around, as it’s mostly a feature to save space on the MacBook, whereas you don’t need to do that with a dedicated keyboard.

It’s possible that Apple wants its users to have the same experience when typing on a MacBook and typing on an iMac, so that you’re not relearning how to type all over again, and this makes sense, but for those who don’t have to switch between Macs, having a dedicated keyboard with minimal key travel is a bit weird.

No Backlighting

If Apple really wanted its users to have the same typing experience between a MacBook and an iMac, then it would make its new Magic Keyboard with backlit keys. However, the new keyboard unfortunately doesn’t have backlit keys.

Apple Magic Keyboard Review - 5

It’s something that could easily be implemented, as LEDs hardly use up any power, and there are even two blank “F” keys in the top row of the new keyboard, which would be perfect places to put the backlight brightness keys, just like on the MacBook.

Missed opportunity? Perhaps.

No Full-Size Keyboard Option

We’re not too surprised by this, but I’ve met more and more people who want a full-size keyboard with a numpad, and Apple doesn’t offer its new keyboard in such a configuration.

This is the new Apple Magic Keyboard.
This is the new Apple Magic Keyboard.

My wife will only use keyboards that come with a numpad, and there are plenty of users who are the same way. However, I can see why Apple doesn’t really focus on that type of configuration, considering that most consumers wouldn’t use one on their non-work computer.

You can get Apple’s old style keyboard in a full-size model with a numpad, but there’s no wireless option for a full-size keyboard that Apple offers, which is a bit annoying.

Internal Battery

We’re not too surprised that Apple went this route, but it’s still unfortunate. Instead of using regular alkaline batteries, the new Apple keyboard has an internal lithium-ion battery that can’t be replaced.

Apple Magic Keyboard Review - 4

It charges up using a Lightning cable and the battery lasts about a month, with a quick-charge feature that lets you quickly charge it up for a few minutes in order to get a day or so of battery life out of it in order to finish any vital work you need to get done.

The downside of having internal batteries is that they eventually wear out and need replaced, so in a few years, your new Magic Keyboard might need its battery replaced, and how much is that going to cost?

Increased Price

Lastly, if you needed one more reason why you shouldn’t buy the new Apple keyboard, it’s that Apple raised the price this time around.

Apple Magic Keyboard vs Apple Wireless Keyboard - 3

The Apple keyboard used to be $79, which was a fairly reasonable price, but the new keyboard now costs $99, which is kind of ridiculous considering that the new model isn’t that much of a drastic refresh over the old one.

It’s possible that the new keyboard’s price is because of the solid aluminum design or maybe the cost of the internal lithium-ion battery, but $100 for a keyboard is a bit ridiculous. The Logitech K380, which is one of my favorite keyboards currently, is only a measly $40.

13 Comments

  1. Guest 47

    10/18/2015 at 8:43 am

    Internal Battery is a con for a KEYBOARD? Are you serious? We’ve been waiting for a rechargeable keyboard from Apple for years. It’s a pain to keep an extra sets of batteries to swap out and charge whenever the keyboard dies. The keyboard battery can last a month, and since batteries can be charged 1,000 times before they expire, I think the batteries can easily outlast the 10 year life span of a keyboard. Of course, replaceable lithium batteries that can be charged inside the keyboard would be perfect, but an internal battery is much better than having to swap out AA-batteries. I wish journalists stop trying to think up more cons just to fit a catchy title “5/10 reasons why blah blah blah”.

    Reply

    • Bert

      03/29/2016 at 11:50 am

      Well, I ow write this message o my five-year-old keyboard o which the letter betwee the b ad the m (or, alphabetically, betwee the o ad the p) has give up o life. That’s the etire keyboard ripe for the bi. Five years of light use, ot the te you write about.

      Reply

    • Ted

      04/07/2016 at 8:22 pm

      To me, it is not a joke. I fully agree with him. I would rather have high quality, reasonably priced, user-replaceable rechargeable batteries e.g. Eneelop than Apple’s proprietary rechargeable batteries which will be charged to us at a huge huge premium.

      Reply

      • Tim Tripp

        02/27/2017 at 9:17 am

        The battery question is just going to be a matter of preference. Personally, it’s MUCH more likely that I’ll be stuck in a hotel room or in a meeting somewhere when the batteries might die, and have no AA batteries around, but can easily plug a lightning cable into my laptop to charge and keep going. I’m sure I’m in the minority on this one, but what I’d really like would be a keyboard charge port of type USB-C instead of lightning. Hopefully that’ll be in the next model (along with a touch bar and backlit keys please!) – I’d pay $200 for it if it had a touch bar. I have a 2016 MBP 15 and love the touch support – it’s actually what I miss the most when I use an external keyboard. If they added it to the external keyboard it would also let non 2016 MBP users access all the new software updates (MS Office, Photoshop, xCode, etc.) with great Touch Bar support.

        Reply

  2. Richard

    10/18/2015 at 8:54 pm

    Well said, although I do value an internal rechargeable battery. It’s a shame it’s not user replaceable because it essentially puts a use-by date on your keyboard. So much for being better for the environment.

    I wish Apple would bring out a keyboard with a similar footprint, but with mechanical switches instead of these godawful scissor mechanisms. I’m typing this post on an AEKII and I wish there was a modern, compact, Apple-designed version of these (although the Matias Tactile is a good starting point).

    Reply

  3. A Bond

    10/31/2015 at 4:22 am

    Wireless keyboards done away with usb leads, now Apple have gone back to having a charging lead, I don’t have a problem with batteries, and as for the mouse, you can’t use it when it’s charging, pointless.

    Reply

  4. Harrison

    11/15/2015 at 3:45 pm

    It comes with a lightning cable to charge it, and they can’t go giving away free lighting cables now can they.

    Reply

  5. J

    11/23/2015 at 8:15 pm

    Craig, I think you wrote this without even trying out the new keyboard…

    Reply

  6. J

    11/23/2015 at 8:20 pm

    Key travel is really a non-issue for me. In fact, I think I even prefer the Magic Keyboard compared to the previous Apple wireless keyboard. And the internal battery is the biggest reason I wanted to switch. Changing 2 AA size batteries every 2 months can be a pain.

    Although backlit keys certainly would have been nice, but I think I can live without it.

    When it comes to the Numpad, I guess this is personal preference, but I seldom have use for it. So that’s ok with me.

    All in all, after using it for quite some time now, albeit pricey, it’s worth the 99 bucks I paid for it.

    Reply

  7. Mario

    01/05/2016 at 10:01 am

    Key travel equals finger work, shorter better. Some critics have stiff fingers, though.

    Reply

  8. Paul

    01/28/2016 at 6:43 am

    I absolutely agree regarding the key travel. (Too little)

    I type a lot and fast (touch typing) and the old Apple Keyboard hast just the minimal travel and padding for me. The new Keyboard basically has no padding at all, so a key press stops hard and abruptly at the bottom. That produces a bad feel when typing fast.

    Reply

  9. Anon

    02/11/2016 at 3:42 am

    I would add that the new reduced size for the bottom command keys is also very bad. Don’t need the extra size on the top keys that use once in a while. I keep mistyping on the arrow keys and the command keys which i use very frequently.

    Reply

  10. svalewp

    04/19/2016 at 9:06 am

    Changing 2 AA size batteries every 2 months can be a pain. Sir J, are You serious. This is a first world problem. Come on.

    Reply

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