- Apple has updated two out of its three new Mac laptops, including the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the new MacBook Air, with a new and more reliable keyboard.
- The 13-inch MacBook Pro has not yet been updated with a new keyboard, and it comes with the unreliable and problematic “butterfly” keyboard that has plagued Apple laptop users since 2015.
- If you need a new Apple laptop, you should avoid the 13-inch MacBook Pro until the company updates it with the new keyboard.
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As of March 2020, Apple has updated two Mac laptop models with a more reliable “Magic” keyboard, including the 16-inch MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.
That leaves Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro with the “butterfly” keyboard that has plagued Apple laptop users since 2015, when the original MacBook ushered in the age of the notoriously divisive and unreliable keyboard.
Even though the current 13-inch MacBook Pro on Apple’s website right now is the last to be updated among other Mac laptops, it would be fine had it not been for the fact that it still has that keyboard. And as a direct result of that keyboard, you should avoid the current 13-inch MacBook Pro.
The butterfly keyboard was, and still is, pretty bad.
Not everyone who bought a Mac laptop between 2015 and 2020 experienced issues with their butterfly keyboards, but many did.
So many, in fact, that Apple eventually issued an apology to users affected by faulty butterfly keyboards and set up a free repair program. It was also called one of “the worst products in Apple history” by prominent Apple blogger Jon Gruber. Among tech media and consumers alike, the butterfly keyboard drew significantly more criticism than praise.
Those issues came in a various forms, including keys that wouldn’t register, or keys that would double-register.
Apple has released several iterations of its butterfly keyboard over the years, with each generation seemingly becoming more and more reliable. The last generation of Apple’s butterfly keyboard — the one found in Apple’s current 13-inch MacBook Pro —appears to be the most reliable, as fewer complaints against it were made. But Apple still included it in its repair program, which is a nice backup to have, but doesn’t instill much confidence in its reliability.
I personally experienced issues with a faulty butterfly on my own Mac laptop — twice. Here’s what it was like to work with a faulty keyboard:
I wrote an entire article back in early 2018 with a faulty butterfly keyboard on my 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, when the letter “G” simply stopped to register properly and the resulting typos weren’t corrected. You can check out the article here.
It’s good that there’s a repair program for faulty keyboards, but it’s not something you want to use.
Apple’s repair program for faulty butterfly keyboards is like insurance — it’s good to have, but you don’t really want to use it, because that means something went wrong.
Unlike insurance, however, the repair program is free, so that’s good. Still, speaking from experience, getting the keyboard repaired or replaced entirely takes time and effort that you don’t really want to spend, especially when it’s for something as menial-yet-important as a keyboard.
If you need an Apple laptop now, I’d suggest waiting for Apple to update its smaller MacBook Pro, or get the 16-inch MacBook Pro or the new MacBook Air.
Apple is rumored to be working on an update for the 13-inch MacBook, which could even take the shape of a 14-inch MacBook Pro. The company replaced the 15-inch MacBook Pro with the 16-inch model, so why not with the 13-inch MacBook Pro?
Otherwise, if you need an Apple laptop now and you can’t wait, I’d recommend you stay away from the 13-inch MacBook Pro and go for either the 16-inch MacBook Pro or the latest MacBook Air. The unreliable butterfly keyboard simply isn’t worth the risk when Apple has other offerings with more reliable keyboards.