New MacBook Pro keyboard design may fix dust problems after all

Enlarge / The keyboard of the 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar.

While the redesigned Apple keyboards in the new MacBook Pro models are made to be quieter, they also seem to be designed to avoid another problem. According to a document sent to Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by MacRumors, the new keys have a "membrane" underneath that allows "to prevent debris" from entering the throttle mechanism.

"The keyboard has a membrane under the caps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism," say the Canadian and European versions of the document. "The procedure for replacing the spacebar has also changed from the previous model. Repair documentation and service videos will be available when keyed parts begin to be shipped."

The US version of the document does not specifically mention the membrane. However, it makes a link to another document called MacBook Pro (2018), which refers to the membrane under the buttons to prevent debris from entering the keyboard.

After debut the new models of MacBook Pro, Apple insisted that the new keyboard was designed for a quieter typing experience and was not designed to solve the sticky-key problems. But iFixit hypothesized that this silicone membrane was designed to prevent dust and debris from getting under the keys after the site discovered the membrane during disassembly of the new MacBook Pro 13 inches


A number of MacBook and MacBook Pro users complained of the sticky key problem in recent years, which blocks them or makes them unable to respond because of the dust, crumbs or other debris obstructing the throttle mechanism. To respond to these complaints, Apple has launched a repair program that allows users to have their keyboards repaired for free.

Apple maintains that the problem of sticky keys was not widespread, but the company was hit by some class action lawsuits because of this. Admitting to repair the problem with a keyboard overhaul could hurt Apple, as this could be a sign of a bigger problem.

It is worth noting that the 2018 MacBook Pro are not included in the Apple Keyboard Repair Program. In addition, according to the MacRumors report, third-generation keyboards incorporating this membrane will not be offered as replacements in the repair program.

Keep an eye on Ars's full review of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro, along with practical details on the new Butterfly Keyboard, in the coming days.

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