Apple is reportedly planning on launching new “scissor switch” keyboards on its MacBook Air 2019 and MacBook Pro 2020 laptops, following widespread complaints about its current butterfly switches.
That’s according to famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF Securities (via MacRumors) who explains that the scissor switch keyboards are expected to offer more durability and longer key travel, with the aim to solve reliability issues and low-travel design of the butterfly mechanism which had been in use since 2015.
The butterfly keyboards had been through four iterations in four years, as the company attempted to fix issues like stuck keys, repeated key inputs, and loud clacking noises when typing. However, while Apple said that only a “small percentage of the keyboards” have serious issues relating to sticky or unresponsive keys, it’s apparently ready to ditch them.
Scissor switches reportedly use a rubber dome that depresses into the keyboard to trigger an input, but also have a plastic mechanism that resembles a pair of scissors to link the keycap and a plunger that depresses the dome when pressed. The scissor-switch keyboard will be more expensive to manufacture than regular notebook keyboards, but cheaper than the butterfly models.
With the MacBook Air refresh, which is expected to arrive later this year, and the 2020 MacBook Pro, the scissor switch is expected to be cheaper, but research and development costs injected into the new design could mean Apple will charge a slight premium for the first crop of notebooks that use this new keyboard.
Given the current butterfly switch keyboards have basically become radioactive, with generation after generation, membranes and new dome materials, Apple can’t get the new keyboards on the market fast enough.