Apple Unveils New 13″ MacBook Pro with Magic Keyboard

By Chand Bellur

May 4, 2020 at 3:25 p.m. PT

  • Apple’s newest 13″ MacBook Pro features a 10th generation Intel processor in select models.
  • The new MacBook Pro employs a scissor mechanism keyboard, finally removing the troubled butterfly design from Apple’s MacBook lineup.
  • Rumors suggested the base MacBook Pro would have a bigger screen, however, at 13″, it’s the same size as previous models.

The Butterfly Keyboard is Finally Dead

As the owner of a MacBook Pro with a butterfly keyboard, I have learned to accept its fatal flaw. The keyboard mechanism, well-known to be compromised by dust or crumbs, is one of Apple’s worst mistakes. The keyboard, embedded in the top assembly, is easily broken yet challenging to fix.

If a crumb slips under a key and compressed air can’t fix it, the only solution is to replace the whole top assembly. This complicated part includes the battery, top panel, and other electronics. Apple’s fervent desire to produce ultra-thin notebooks forced them to tightly integrate the keyboard into the top assembly, making it difficult to replace.

Apple stubbornly held on to the butterfly design, improving it with two additional revisions. Unfortunately, nothing could stop the keyboard from breaking. High profile Mac users took to social media, shaming Apple for creating such a frustrating keyboard.

Extending the warranty to four years for affected MacBooks was the best Apple could do. If your butterfly-keyboard Mac breaks, you can probably get it fixed for free; however, you will be without a Mac for a few days. This is unacceptable to power users.

After five years of the butterfly keyboard mechanism, Apple finally acquiesced and opted for a different design. They reverted to the tried and true scissor mechanism, used by virtually every keyboard on the planet.

Apple’s newest 13″ MacBook Pro finally brings closure to the butterfly keyboard debacle. Going forward, all new MacBooks will employ the Magic Keyboard. The not-so-clever marketing is a thin veil covering their return to a classic, robust keyboard design.

The new keyboard mechanism makes Apple’s newest MacBook Pro slightly larger than older models. It’s a whopping 0.01″ thicker than a 2017 13″ MacBook Pro. Yes, Apple forced users to deal with a profoundly flawed keyboard mechanism so they could save 0.01″ in thickness (height). Even Captain Ahab was less obsessed with the White Whale.

Mid 2020 13″ MacBook Pro Specifications

Apple’s new 13″ MacBook Pro comes with more than a redesigned keyboard; however, updates are modest. The base model now comes with 256 GB of solid-state storage. Given the low cost of the storage upgrade, this capacity should have been standard years ago.

The Touchbar and Touch ID sensor are now standard on all 13″ MacBook Pro models. The display, with 2560 x 1600 resolution and 500 nit brightness, hasn’t changed in years.

Although the base model still employs eighth-generation Intel processors, users can upgrade to a 10th generation processor for $500. This top-of-the-line model also boasts twice the RAM and SSD space of the base model, along with four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Overall, the new 13″ MacBook Pro is what you’d expect from Apple. It’s not very exciting. At best, it features a reliable keyboard, which may motivate some to buy a new MacBook finally. Many MacBook users were holding on to old models, out of concern of butterfly keyboard mechanism failure. Such users will likely upgrade to a new MacBook Pro as soon as possible.

As for my 2017 13″ MacBook Pro? The keyboard still works, but I was aware of the issue and took special care. I use an external keyboard most of the time, with a transparent keyboard protector to prevent dust accumulation. I’m not thrilled that this computer has such a significant flaw; however, I’m stuck with it.

When it breaks, I’ll likely purchase another MacBook Pro. Some would claim I’m an Apple sheep, but really, I’m quite the contrary. I had used Windows for decades before I ever bought a Mac. I still use Windows machines. After 15 years of using Apple products, I can honestly say they’re much less flawed than their competitors’ offerings. Until some corporation can produce a perfect, flawless device, I’ll stick with the best. For now, this is Apple.

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