2019 MacBook Pro teardown reveals minimal keyboard changes

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2019 MacBook Pro keys
What’s inside a 2019 MacBook Pro key.
Photo: iFixit

Apple just dropped a new MacBook Pro with faster Intel processors that deliver even greater performance. But more importantly, it features “new material” that Apple hopes will fix its keyboard woes.

The machine now been pulled apart by iFixit so that we can see exactly what’s changed under the hood. Don’t expect anything too dramatic or you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Apple seems to have finally accepted that the butterfly keyboard it has been installing in its MacBooks for years is flawed. It will now replace faulty keyboards for free, but with its latest MacBook Pro, it hopes to have eliminated the problem once and for all.

But what exactly is that new material that aims to provide a magical fix? iFixit tore into the MacBook Pro to find out.

iFixit tears open the 2019 MacBook Pro

If you were to pull apart a 2019 MacBook Pro and examine its keyboard, you almost certainly won’t notice a difference. The revised butterfly keyboard is identical to the previous model.

The new material is “clearer and smoother to the touch,” iFixit says. But it’s not noticeably different to the naked eye. iFixit had to employ specialist scientific equipment to confirm a change.

2019 MacBook Pro keyboard
Squint hard enough and you … still won’t see a difference.
Photo: iFixit

The material was analyzed with Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. “It works by shining infrared light at a material and measuring how much light is absorbed and at what wavelengths.”

iFixit found the material used in 2018 butterfly keyboards closely resembled “polyacetylene with aromatic urethane side groups.” The material used in this year’s keyboard is more like nylon.

What does that mean?

There’s a slight change to the keyboard switches, too.

Again, it’s not obvious, but iFixit reports that the difference in surface finish suggests Apple is using a revised heat treatment or alloy, or both, for its newer butterfly keys.

All this confirms Apple has indeed changed the materials it is using. But it doesn’t tell us how the change will prevent the same keyboard issues occurring with 2019 MacBook Pro units.

2019 MacBook Pro keyboard
Who popped this E?
Photo: iFixit

It seems crazy to think that adjustments this slight will make a significant improvement — but you never know. We’ll have to wait and see just how many units end up with keyboard problems.

What else is new?

Also found inside the new MacBook Pro were ninth-generations Intel Core i7 chips — the biggest selling point of the newer machines — paired with Radeon Pro 555X graphics.

Getting inside the notebook requires the same disassembly process as before, and the same components are installed in exactly the same way this time around.

In other words, the 2019 MacBook Pro is just as difficult to pull apart and repair as its predecessors. With that being the case, iFixit gives it a repairability score of just 1/10.