- Apple released a new 16-inch MacBook Pro to replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro as Apple’s large laptop option.
- The new 16-inch MacBook Pro ditches Apple’s controversial “butterfly” keyboard in favour of a more traditional keyboard with a scissor mechanism.
- Apple’s butterfly keyboards weren’t universally liked. Many say they are uncomfortable to type on and loud, and some have said they’re unreliable.
- Apple has also made the “esc” key a physical button on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. On MacBook laptops with Apple’s Touch Bar, the escape key is a touch button.
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Apple revealed a new 16-inch MacBook Pro on Wednesday, and apart from its unusual screen size, two things about the new MacBook Pro stick out.
The physical “esc” key is back, and Apple’s new laptop has a good old-fashioned keyboard instead of Apple’s controversial “butterfly keyboard.”
Getting a physical escape key instead of relying on the touch equivalent on Apple’s Touch Bar isn’t a huge deal, but it’s a nice touch. Apple meant well when it introduced its Touch Bar, which lets you customise what the “F” keys on the top row do, to its MacBook Pro laptops. But it really didn’t have to make the escape key a touch button too.
More importantly, Apple’s return to the old-fashioned keyboard that uses scissor switches instead of the company’s “butterfly” switches shows that the company has, indeed, listened to feedback. It’s also an acknowledgement that the butterfly keyboard just isn’t good enough.
“Our pro customers tell us they want their next MacBook Pro to have … the best notebook keyboard ever,” Apple said in its press release for the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Clearly, the butterfly keyboard wasn’t up to the task of being “the best notebook keyboard ever.”
What’s odd here is that Apple is appeasing its customers who wanted a 16-inch MacBook Pro. But what about the regular customer who uses a MacBook Air or a 13-inch MacBook Pro? So far, it’s still unclear whether other Mac laptops that are less “pro,” like the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, will get the traditional scissor-keyboard treatment.
Apple’s Phil Schiller told CNET the company was “continuing both keyboard designs,” which suggests the butterfly keyboard will continue to be featured in some of Apple’s upcoming laptop lineup.
Many people don’t like the butterfly keyboard; it’s not just MacBook Pro users. They don’t like the feel of it or how loud it is, and for some, it’s unreliable. The prominent Apple blogger John Gruber called the butterfly keyboard one of the “worst products in Apple’s history.” I wrote an entire article with my own defective butterfly keyboard on a 2016 MacBook Pro without correcting the typos. The result was an article devoid of the letter “G,” as the “G” key had become totally unresponsive.
Ultimately, Apple apologised to the “small number” of costumers who were affected by the keyboard’s unreliability, and it set up a keyboard-repair program to replace defective keyboards free of charge.
Conversely, some people like the butterfly keyboard, like Business Insider’s own Ben Gilbert. But Gilbert’s voice – and the voices of others who like the butterfly keyboard – clearly wasn’t as loud as those who wanted it gone.