Apple Butterfly Keyboard (2015-2020): Forever in Our Memories


Do you know about the Apple Butterfly keyboard? In this article, we will tell you everything that you must know.

Bill Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, introduced the product and praised the Butterfly’s accuracy over earlier scissor-based mechanisms, claiming that it was “four times more reliable” and would provide a “wonderful typing experience.” Apple agreed to pay $50 million to customers who were harmed by the faulty typing surface in a settlement of a class action lawsuit involving the contentious MacBook butterfly keyboards included in some MacBook models.

According to the lawsuit, Apple offered products that used its keyboards while being aware of potential issues with them. This change from prior laptop models allowed for the notebook’s extreme thinness. Apple introduced the second iteration of the infamous “butterfly” keyboard with the MacBook Pro series in October 2016. Let’s explore the complete story of the Apple Butterfly Keyboard. If you want to know how much is MacBook screen replacement cost you can read this article.

Story Behind Famous “Mac Butterfly Keyboard”

The MacBook Butterfly keyboard was a major embarrassment for Apple, a corporation known for its attention to detail and design. It was developed in 2015 and swapped out the old scissor-switch mechanism for a more compact one, enabling Cupertino to continue making already-compact laptops even smaller. The 12-inch MacBook was the thinnest Mac ever when it was unveiled by Apple in April 2015, with a tapered design that tapers from 3.5 to 13.1 mm. A redesigned keyboard replaced the scissor-style switch under each key with a new, 40 percent thinner to achieve the laptop’s exceptionally thin design.

Apple then modified the keyboard to a third-generation design in July 2018, adding a thin silicone membrane under each key to shield it from debris and other foreign objects. Then, in May 2019, Apple upgraded the keyboard in the most recent MacBook Pro models, telling journalists that the mechanism in the fourth-generation design has undergone “materials modification.” People however felt Apple Butterfly Keyboard was different from a normal keyboard. The Butterfly keyboard was controversial, with many users reporting issues with the keyboard, including sticky or unresponsive keys. This was due in part to the keyboard’s design, which had a low travel distance and shallow keycaps.

How Do Normal Keys Work Differently from Butterfly Keyboard by Apple?

We must first analyze the standard(-ish) keyboard mechanisms to understand what distinguishes a butterfly key from other keys. There are a tonne of other variations (see here for data on those), but the scissor-switch design is one of the most popular on laptops and is what Apple is rumored to be reverting to.

The scissor key doesn’t need to descend as far as, say, a desktop computer keyboard because of the cross design. This makes it perfect for computers, but there is still a tonne of space there. This inspired Apple to develop the butterfly keys because it wanted to produce a keyboard that was more streamlined and thin than those of its rivals. Okay, what is a Butterfly Keyboard?

It basically resembles a butterfly’s wings, which is why it is nicknamed a butterfly key. While the butterfly key has a hinge in the middle, the scissor-switch has two crossing supports. Another way to say it is that the butterfly key is more akin to a wide “V” form, whereas the scissor switch has an “X” shape. In some ways, this design is brilliant. Since Apple Butterfly Keyboard has a thinner mechanism, typing on one can really be rather enjoyable. The flawed real world is the issue. The butterfly key’s ‘V’ design makes it simpler for food, dirt, and other debris to enter underneath the mechanism, which is prevented (at least somewhat more) by an ‘X’ shape.

What Problems Made Mac Butterfly Keyboard a Disaster?

You need some travel on a keyboard, which is the issue. First of all, it feels great. The travel distance on the Butterfly keyboard was as little as 0.7mm. The so-called Magic Keyboard, which originally came with pre-2015 Mac computers but has now made a comeback throughout the company’s whole computing line, has about 1mm of travel. The lack of a tangible response to let you know when you’ve hit a key is the reason why typing on a touchscreen seems so unsatisfying.

A good mechanical keyboard will have travel that ranges from 2 to 5 millimeters. Typists criticized the Apple Butterfly Keyboard for being too “flat.” The 16-inch MacBook Pro from the current generation, which employs the scissor-based Magic Keyboard, is much quieter than earlier models, which were known for their loudness. The good news is that those issues are manageable. It’s not difficult to upgrade your headphones’ noise-canceling capabilities or modify your muscle memory to accommodate a thinner keyboard. When it became clear that the MacBook Butterfly keyboard was incredibly prone to error, things got really bad. It was far too simple for debris to snag itself under a keycap and for them to become stuck with only 0.7mm of travel between keys. Keystrokes would either not register at all or would register several times.

When former Outline journalist Casey Johnston wrote a blog post in 2017 detailing her difficulties using Apple’s most recent keyboard technology, the issue came to a head. The article was titled “The New Macbook Keyboard is Ruining My Life”. Numerous users have voiced complaints regarding keys that stick or feel crunchy, fail to fire at all, or both.

Why Did Apple Continue to Modify the Butterfly Keyboard Over the Years?

It quietly revised the idea over a five-year period, adding polymer membranes intended to trap dirt before it might affect the key switch mechanism. A service program to provide impacted consumers with free replacement keyboards, even if they hadn’t paid for the AppleCare extended warranty, was finally introduced in 2018. That happened just one month after the corporation was sued in a class-action lawsuit by irate customers.

Separately, the company suggested consumers try to remove particles using canned air, a method that typically did not work to cure the issue. In fact, Apple recognized that “a small proportion” of first- and second-generation butterfly keyboards were affected in June 2018, just before the third-generation design debuted in the MacBook Pro, and introduced a repair program to patch them for free, even if they were out of warranty. In 2018, Apple updated the keyboard design with new material for the keys, but issues continued to persist. In 2019, Apple announced that it was discontinuing the Butterfly keyboard and switching back to a more traditional scissor-switch keyboard design for its MacBook Pro lineup. Since 2019, Apple has gradually phased out the Butterfly mechanism from its laptop series, beginning with the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s release marked the end of that process.

Influential Apple analyst John Gruber referred to the Apple Butterfly Keyboard as one of “the worst devices in Apple history” which caused repetitive strain injury. The toughest word to say, according to Elton John, is “sorry.” This is especially true in the case of Apple, which hasn’t officially renounced this disastrous design. Furthermore, it’s still not obvious if the company has learned its lesson about repairability. The 16-inch MacBook Pro’s keyboard is glued to the upper case of the device, making it nearly impossible to replace without also replacing other parts.

Remarking “The End” With “Good Note”

Anyway, we hope this nightmare ends soon! If the Apple Butterfly Keyboard on your MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro is functional and in good condition, that’s fantastic! Do nothing, and perhaps it will continue to tap, tip, and type. Make sure you have at least one, preferably two, copies of your data before you turn in any Mac for repair since Apple occasionally replaces storage devices while performing what seem to be unrelated repairs.

Although it’s too soon to tell, we keep our fingers crossed that the fourth-generation Mac Butterfly keyboard will allay all the issues. Apple created a stunning new laptop keyboard that was slimmer, more streamlined, and wonderful to text on. Unfortunately, it destroyed one of the most crucial components of any computer and only reliably worked in controlled settings. Which is rather amusing when you think about it. In general, the Apple Butterfly keyboard marked a substantial divergence from conventional keyboard layouts and had a contentious past because of its durability and usability problems. Its legacy has led to a renewed interest in keyboard design and a reconsideration of what constitutes an “excellent” keyboard for users.

I am a young digital marketer and a blog analyst, Author from Uttarakhand, India. I have been into blogging since 2013 and helping businesses with their SEO requirements. I have 12 years of experience; during the journey, I have worked on many websites and made good friends. I research and share my knowledge with everyone to help them succeed as solopreneurs, businessmen, and entrepreneurs. You can also find me on LinkedIn and see my entire journey.