Apple MacBook Pro 2018 Editions Have Extra Keyboard Protection But It May Not Work Always, Indicates iFixit Tests

Latest Apple MacBook Pro 2018 edition laptops have an extra layer of silicon barrier below the keys of the 'Butterfly' keyboard. Does it protect from dust?


The 2018 edition of Apple MacBook Pro laptops feature the whisper-quiet “Butterfly” keyboards. To enhance typing, and perhaps to protect the keyboards from randomly failing, Apple placed an extra silicon barrier. After discovering the extra layer, iFixit tested their efficacy, and came back with some interesting results.

Apple added an extra layer of silicon below the keys of the latest MacBook Pro 2018 edition laptops. The extra padding offers a significantly quiet typing experience. In fact, the tech community has wholeheartedly appreciated the reduction in the typing sounds. But these barriers are meant for an additional purpose, which wasn’t initially revealed or clarified. Interestingly, a new addendum to a MacBook Pro service document does indicate the barriers are placed to, “prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism.” The notation reads as follows:

Caution: The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. Be careful not to tear the membrane. A torn membrane will result in a top case replacement.”

Does The Extra Silicon Barrier Below The MacBook Pro’s Keys Offer Any Real-World Protection?

To test Apple’s innovation, iFixit exposed the 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard to a number of elements that could potentially hinder the otherwise smooth operation of the keyboards. The team at iFixit exposed the keyboards to a paint additive. The finely powdered substance surprisingly remained restricted to the edges of the silicon membrane, and away from the switch mechanism. In other words, the silicon barrier worked well to shield the keys from fine powders.

After surviving powdered substances, the team stepped up their game, and added more particulate matter. They also simulated “aggressive typing”. As expected, these actions did allow dust to penetrate beneath the clips and get to the switch. Still the keyboards continued to work. As a final assault, iFixit added some sand to the keyboards. This seemed to kill some of the keys and caused them to stop functioning.

iFixit concludes that the silicon barrier does a “decent job protecting against dust, at least in the short term, but larger particles may still be an issue.” In other words, Apple has done a rather splendid job at trying to shield the keys of MacBook Pro 2018 edition laptops from clumsy users who frequently expose their devices to dust or perhaps crunchy eatables. However, persistent exposure to such elements may inevitably cause the butterfly keyboards to malfunction.

Apple Faced Litigation And Launched Repair Program To Address The Failing Keyboards:

Apple never specifically admitted it was addressing the problem of randomly failing MacBook Pro keyboards. The most plausible explanation to the silence is that the company has been involved in several litigations about the butterfly keyboards. Even though Apple hasn’t openly admitted the unusually higher rate of keyboards failing, it was apparently hard at work. The company clearly intended to remedy the seemingly simplistic, but quite complex issue or poorly responsive keyboards. The issues included sticky, unresponsive, or repeating keys.

In response to the problem, Apple eventually launched a repair program for certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models. But the iFxit test is quite revealing.

Apple MacBook Pro 2018 Edition Laptop: Specifications, Price And Availability

Apple launched 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro 2018 models in India this month. The company opted for a never-before-seen approach. Apple has permitted its potential customers to fine-tune their latest MacBook Pro to precisely match their requirement. Essentially, buyers in India will have configurable processor, RAM, storage, and graphics card options.

The laptops run on the latest 8th Generation of Intel Core processors. They feature new True Tone technology in its Retina display and Touch Bar. The laptops include large Force Touch trackpad, Touch Bar and Touch ID. They are also packing the new Apple T2 chip for enhanced security of the laptops. Interestingly, this is the very chip that unlocks, for the first time on a MacBook, the ability to summon Apple’s virtual digital assistant “Siri” with the call-phrase “Hey Siri.”

The Indian prices of the 13-inch model starts at Rs. 1,49,900. The 15-inch model starts at Rs. 1,99,900. As is the norm, the company will make these models available via select Apple Authorized Resellers later this month.