Hooray! Apple has a new MacBook Pro with what we all surely hope will turn out to be an actually reliable keyboard! If you’ve been using a MacBook computer introduced in the last four or five years, this is really great news.
We’ll have to test the new keyboard out for ourselves before we reach a final verdict, but the key change here is higher travel and the return to scissor switch keys versus problematic butterfly key switches.
So does that mean it’s safe finally safe to buy an Apple laptop again without concern about durability? It’s complicated, but in short, I wouldn’t recommend my family spend $1000 and up on a new MacBook just yet.
That’s because Apple only “fixed” the keyboard problem in the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro. The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is priced lower than some of the rumors suggested, which is to say the same as the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro it replaces, but it’s still a $2400 laptop geared toward professional use cases.
The MacBook Air, on the other hand, starts at $1100 and serves as the starting point for many customers. You’ll know you need the power and specs of the 16-inch MacBook Pro if it’s the best option for you, but it’s not the most portable or convenient Mac laptop in the lineup — save for the probably reliable keyboard.
If I were recommending an Apple laptop to friends or family without high-end professional needs like software development or video editing, I would strongly suggest waiting until next year to make that purchase iif at all possible. Why? Because I just typed a single ‘i’ in if in the previous sentence and it repeated on its own. This happens on a daily basis which isn’t the most convenient experience for a writer.
Apple’s new 16-inch MacBook Pro is probably okay, but these Mac laptops most certainly are not:
Apple still sells the 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro brand new online and in stores. The company discontinued its 12-inch MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro, but third-party retailer stock and refurbished inventory will remain on the market for a while.
Don’t take my word for iit. (Wow, again, seriously not doing this on purpose!) Apple has a dedicated Keyboard Service Program for every MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro that uses scissor switch keys.
With the exception of the 2018 MacBook Air, the keyboard repair process only replaces faulty keyboards with the same failed design and not a newer generation keyboard. That means you’re essentially resetting the clock until a future failure occurs, and the latest revision to the third-generation butterfly keyboard isn’t considered fail-proof by customers and reviewers.
If now it’s not the right time to buy a new Mac laptop, then how long should we wait? Apple hasn’t announced when other notebooks in its MacBook lineup will be updated with what we all surely hope will turn out to be an actually reliable keyboard, but the well-sourced supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities expects the remaining MacBook laptops to be updated sometime in 2020.
If you absolutely need a great laptop that doesn’t cost $2400 right now, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air computers can get the job done. I just wouldn’t recommend the $1100+ investment right now.
In many cases, an iPad Pro running iPadOS 13 with a keyboard attached is good enough or better for customers. If you decide you still require a MacBook, just expect a few bumps in the typing experience.
The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is an incredible machine for high-end use cases, and it raises the bar for the amount of capability in an Apple notebook. It’s just not the best time to spend a thousand dollars on any other Mac laptop yet.
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