back to article The butterfly defect: MacBook keys wrecked by single grain of sand

Apple's butterfly keyboards can be thwarted by little more than a speck of sand. This is according to do-it-yourself repair guru Kyle Wiens of iFixit, who bemoaned the sorry state of the Cupertino idiot-tax racket's laptops in an analysis yesterday on his company's blog. Calling out Apple for its shoddy craftsmanship, Wiens …


  1. Paul Herber

    Could be worse

    Could be dust in your eyepad.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Could be worse

      I remember James May pronouncing it IPP-pod... I seriously wondered if that was actually the Brit pronunciation.

      1. Brenda McViking

        Re: Could be worse

        Given the insistance of the use of the lowercase "i:" ipp-od is the correct use from those of us who defend the language of the realm. If Messrs Jobs and Wozniak wanted it to be pronounced I-pod, then that's how it should've been spelled.

        Blimey, is that the time? Must dash, tea with Her Majesty later, what?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      MacBookPro late-2016 (and newer) models are THE WORST

      Two or three USB-C ports. Nothing else. Minus one port needed as power-port. So one or two USB-C ports. What are MBA's at Apple smoking?

      And the keyboard. What a mess. I chose the model with non-touchscreen ESC key). But even without the bling-bling touch-shit-touch-screen (ESC, F1-F10) the keyboard itself is THE WORST.

      The keyboard is as bad as these soft-touch-keyboards of the early home computer era. And the MacBookPro keys are so loud.

      I am back at Lenovo ThinkPad T-series. Yes their newer keyboards are a far cry of the older T400-series or even the IBM built models. But wow, a current gen ThinkPad T-series keyboard is still billion miles ahead of the crap that Apple sells at premium. Nuff said, that my Thinkpad is running Win7, and not the cancer that is Win10.

      I really want M$ to die because of their spyware and crap they do since 2012 with their evil indian CEO. And Apple to succeed and gain a bigger market-share. Unfortunately, the Apple CEO is a MBA and has no clue at all. How long will M$ and Apple remain. Well, even Google has a ignorant indian CEO now too, and is going the same rabbit whole with a crap Android P release.

  2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

    El Reg: "Apple could not be reached for immediate comment."

    You guys do know the popular definition for "insanity", right? Maybe you ought to just give up and have LESTER bring you a lager instead.

    1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      One definition for insanity, yes.

      OTOH there can be legitimate reasons for re-trying actions that fail repeatedly. Regression testing comes to mind. Also, if you've seen it work at least once.

    2. dbtx Bronze badge

      While I was becoming a high-school dropout, there was one teacher who always asked me if I had my homework done that day, while walking around the room to see everyone's and put a check mark in his records. He never assumed and always allowed the possibility that this day was the day when I had a different answer. So he's easily one of the two or three best teachers I had during the 6 years I was a minor and forced to live in ${that_god_forsaken_town}.

      I imagine it's at least vaguely similar for Das Reg: the high probability of false hopes versus being able to say the right thing-- their job-- was done.

      (Das Reg as usual because I feel like it. I like German, and incidentally German was the class.)

      1. LeoP

        "Der Reg" actually

        Yours humbly has german as his first language and during his long ago first years learned the hard way, that inanimate things tend to carry a rather random gramatical gender in this weird language. The Register would most definitly be a male specimen, just as "the Standard".

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Re: "Der Reg" actually

          The Register would most definitly be a male specimen, just as "the Standard".

          Duden disagrees:

        2. dbtx Bronze badge

          "Der Reg"

          Thanks, I had wondered about that. Well, I looked it up somewhere and maybe it was wrong, or maybe it wasn't the right noun-- is there a difference in German between CPU register or HVAC register? It's no big surprise if I settled on the wrong one; just take it as further hard evidence of me not turning in my homework ;)

        3. Louis Schreurs BEng

          Re: "Der Reg" actually

          I wondered, being non-native german speaking

        4. Fluffy Cactus

          Re: "Der Reg" actually

          No it's "Das Register" in German. And it's "Der Standard". Even if you has German as your first language, just like I do, you can still get it wrong. And that's in part because, like you said, inanimate things tend to carry a rather random grammatical gender in this weird language. I posted another item on this blog to explain more clearly why this is so. But, LeoP, if you talk about grammar and what is or is not right, it would help if you spelled "gramatical" as "grammatical, and "definitly" as definitely.

          Your homework shall be to determine the proper grammatical gender of Jogurt (or Joghurt) in German.

          1. dbtx Bronze badge

            Ahh, now the problem is reduced to the usual one "on the internet, you can always find someone to agree with you, no matter how (objectively) absurd your original claim" and there's a fun rule that applies especially IRL: "you will choose your teachers". Thanks for weighing in, everyone.

            But when Sideshow Bob was being paroled, he explained that the tattoo covering his back "DIE BART DIE" had nothing to do with killing Bart, it was just German... how does that fit in? Is 'beard' feminine?

            1. dbtx Bronze badge

              sorry it wasn't his back but his front. It's a very poor sort of memory that only works backward... tried to get the exact phrase from which had the full text but suddenly I get:

              You Are Banned

              You have been banned from our site for one of two reasons:

              You use an offline browser to download our site in mass.

              You use an ad blocking program.

              We do not allow offline browsers on our site. People use them to download the entire site which really puts a load on our server. Additionally they can be used to effectively steal all the work we put into placing these works online. If you're interesting in buying PDF files of the works on this site please visit

              We do not allow ad blocking programs for obvious reasons. Nothing in life is free, you pay for your access to our site by viewing the advertisements, if you choose not to view the advertisements then you're stealing from us. You will need to deactivate your ad blocking software in order to access this site.

              Your IP address is: (the end, nothing here.)

              Ooooh, I'm stealing! Just like the jerk who said skipping commercials with a DVR was stealing! FFS, all their content is necessarily public domain to begin with, so they do very little work... but I'm stealing. THE BAN IS MUTUAL. I'll get some 100% legal torrents and consume a few more of my billions of megabytes and then I'll be able to grep through that stuff, without you knowing what I like to grep for--- how do you like that?

              Can't even spell en masse...

              updated to add: I can't even follow their link to purchase PDFs-- just get the same message. Fucking incredible. You get nothing. You lose. Good day, sir.

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        "Das Reg as usual because I feel like it"

        I'm sorry but that is not a valid German word. Minimum plausible candidates start at no less than "Das ITfütterungshandbeißer"

        1. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

          Agglutination. The reason road signs in Hungary can be really really really wide.

          The rest is a mote in a fanboi's aye aye aye.

      3. EuKiwi

        Bonus points not achieved for using 'Das' rather than 'Der' based on the fact that, ending in '-er' and an inanimate, 'Register' is likely to be considered masculine... :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Der, die das ?

          As someone who learned the German language as the first or mother tongue, from the Austrian region, I can say that even within the German language areas there are disagreements over whether a specific subject (meaning a "noun") has a masculine (der) , feminine (die) or neuter (das) article. The rules for that are there, but they are not adequate.

          Speaking of "Register", the word is in German officially considered (das) (neutrum).

          There is no easy answer, because it's not always whether things are masculine, feminine or neuter, but whether "it sort of felt right". So, if you don't know the proper form, you can always revert to a "dialect method" of blurring out the actual use in spoken language, and say "d' Register", without letting on whether you were saying der, die or das Register. Overall, you learn the proper article with the

          noun, because there is no foolproof method to determine it. Reading an effing lot of books always helps, though. If you write, you better know your stuff.

          Some words are all over the place in German, for example yogurt is either "Jogurt" or "Joghurt" in German, and it is found in various German speaking regions to be called either "der Jogurt", "das Jogurt", or "die Jogurt", depending largely on "how people people felt about it". Some, I guess, thought that since Jogurt is a milk product and milk in German has, for obvious reasons, the feminine form "Die Milch". In regions where people thought like this, it became "die Jogurt" (e.g. in Eastern Austria).

          I am not sure what the thought process was to lead to the masculine "Der Jogurt" or to the neutral "Das Jogurt", but my guesses are that in some areas where eating yogurt was considered a "manly, scary thing", they called it "der Jogurt", and in areas where yogurt was not that much accepted, they called it "a thing", hence "das Jogurt".

          One would have to engage in "language oriented market research" to determine the "average per capita yogurt consumption" in areas where it's "der, die or das Jogurt", to see whether that even makes sense. Clearly, the process that makes "lactobacillus bulgaricus", "lactobacillus helveticus" (and others) turn milk into yogurt...does not seem to have an easily discernable gender. Voting on it is not science, although reporting how people have voted is at least a statistic. I love science, knowing full well how useless it can turn out to be.

          For these reasons, "jogurt" or "joghurt" in German is on the "Liste der rechtschreiblich schwierigen Wörter" in the, roughly translated as "The List of grammatically complicated words", because once you made a list of any problems, it's no longer as bad of a problem. A German habit, I guess. Like, "Hey, this word defies our rules, we must do something about it!".

          Anyone who remembers "Blazing Saddles", will recall that "Mongo" (the guy, not the database) was described by Gene Wilder as " Mongo isn't a "who", he is more of a "what"." If you have not seen that movie, you have a) no sense of humor, or b) been missing out. Now I should get back to work.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      They will answer if they judge it to be a PR shitstorm. Obviously this one is not a category 5 yet.

    4. Lee D Silver badge

      And yet... they KEEP BUYING APPLE PRODUCTS too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Unlikely to be buying many more...

        My 2011 MBP failed due to the shoddy graphics adaptor issue - after 6 months of fighting with them, they finally agreed to give me something towards fixing it (for no apparent reason, Apple decided that they would stop fixing the issue arbitarilly on 1 Jan 2017, despite the requirement to fix or replace in the EU for a further year).

        I could not find any MacBook (new) that met my needs.....they were still selling a version of the 2015 MBP, but it was horrendously over-expensive and came with an unreplaceable drive at 250Gb...(I had 500gb in the 2011 model).

        I turned to 2nd user and bought the better specd 2015 model with the separate graphics card and replacable SSD and faster CPU....for less than 1/3 of the price ....

        I cannot honestly see any posibility of purchasing another MBP with the state of crap they have out right now, and with the way that OSX is going.....(APPs everywhere...must have....need to have...really...have to have APPs.... EVERYTHING has to be an APP! ... meh...).

    5. Archtech Silver badge

      Insanely wrong "definition"

      Here is a correct definition of insanity (Concise Oxford English Dictionary):


      n adjective

      1 in or relating to an unsound state of mind; seriously mentally ill.

      2 extremely foolish; irrational.


      insanely adverb

      insanity noun (plural insanities).


      C16: from Latin insanus, from in- 'not' + sanus 'healthy'.

    6. EastFinchleyite

      No Contact

      El Reg: "Apple could not be reached for immediate comment."

      That's because the keys on the MacBook they use for email and VoIP calls are broken and they can't login.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: No Contact

        No, Apple have only ever responded to El Reg on one occasion, and the intern who responded was sacked shortly afterwards.

  3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    El Reg.

    Not shy.

    Will say it out loud should a product be shoddy.


    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      That keyboard review linked to in the article was extremely forgiving though.

  4. Jay Lenovo

    Pledge to Protect

    As I typ this on my Appl buttrfly kyboard, I am glad to s99 th issu9 is finally beeeing addrsseeed

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Pledge to Protect

      I was in an Apple store earlier in the year and someone was complaining about their keyboard. Staff were sympathetic and offered an expensive replacement which the customer declined. Said they would rather use a separate keyboard instead. Staff offered external keyboard for sale and this too was declined because the customer already had one.

      1. CareyKay

        Re: Pledge to Protect

        This is exactly the solution Im having to use - a blue-tooth keyboard that sits on top of the actual keys - cost £7.99

        My Mac is a late 2009 - I googled the repair but its way beyond my capabilities, totally frustrating as despite the age its got updated RAM and a 1TB HD and works just fine.

        "Free repairs" - how will that be accessed then? I doubt this will have trickled down to the local stores.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Pledge to Protect

          If it's a 2009 one then it may be repairable by a 3rd party repair centre... spare parts availability permitting.

        2. Valerion

          Re: Pledge to Protect

          My Mac is a late 2009 - I googled the repair but its way beyond my capabilities, totally frustrating as despite the age its got updated RAM and a 1TB HD and works just fine.

          My sister-in-law had a Lenovo laptop with a dodgy keyboard due to some juice spillage. Despite having no experience or expertise in computer repair, she was able to order (for about £25) and replace the keyboard herself. It took her about 10 minutes and her £350 laptop was as good as new.

          Good luck with that on a £1500 Macbook...

    2. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

      Re: Pledge to Protect

      83 111 32 108 111 110 103 32 97 115 32 121 111 117 32 104 97 118 101 32 110 117 109 98 101 114 115 44 32 110 111 32 112 114 111 98 108 101 109 32 103 101 116 116 105 110 103 32 121 111 117 114 32 109 101 115 115 97 103 101 32 97 99 114 111 115 115 33 32 32 87 104 121 32 105 115 32 101 118 101 114 121 98 111 100 121 32 115 111 32 103 114 117 109 112 121 63

      "The post is required, and must contain letters."

      1. dbtx Bronze badge

        "So long as you have numbers, no problem getting your message across! Why is everybody so grumpy?"

        are not numbers also keys? can you dial that in using a rotary telephone? has 'Phone of Damocles' got the same ring to it? When Cherry MX are fitted into a iThing, it will still not yet be the time to visit an Apple Store.

  5. djstardust Silver badge

    Apple are shit nowadays

    Not a desirable product any more.

    Mass market poorly designed and manufactured crap that gives you the least for the most money.

    That's why the keyboard is glued to the frame and the hard drive can't be replaced.

    That 285 BILLION dollars in their bank account is you getting plainly ripped off.

    Wake up people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple are shit nowadays

      I don't blame it on "Apple" - more on Cook for giving Jony Ive the power to shrink functional products into unusable objects of art. I bet there are a lot of Apple employees who hate Ive and his obsession with "thin" too.

      I said it before - Cook needs to put Ive on a leash and let the engineers go fix his fuckups. I guarantee they know how to make usable products again; Cook just needs to give them the chance.

      1. casperghst42

        Re: Apple are shit nowadays

        Ive has some great ideas about design, but he should never be allowed to make the final decision on anything which is mechanical. For that one need engineers who know how to build shit.

        1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

          Re: Apple are shit nowadays

          "For that one need engineers who know how to build shit."

          But building shit *is* the problem...

          1. Dave559

            Re: Apple are shit nowadays

            > But building shit *is* the problem...

            Knowing how to build proper shit, and unfortunately building utter shite, are two entirely different and completely opposite things!

            Good shit is good shit (and isn’t shite).

            1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

              Re: Apple are shit nowadays

              "Good shit is good shit (and isn’t shite)."

              At last, someone around here knows his shit!

      2. ma1010 Silver badge

        Re: Apple are shit nowadays

        Johnny Ive - Another of these worthless "gurus" like Steven Sinofsky, who destroyed the Windows UI.

        Why do large corporations listen to these shite "gurus" instead of their customers who tell them plainly what they want? Listening to these twats has been a total disaster for both companies.

        MS and Apple seem to be totally deaf to anything remotely resembling common sense. MS at least had the sense to kick Sinofsky out, although they still don't listen to their customers any more than Apple.

        1. mrobaer

          Re: Apple are shit nowadays


          Why do large corporations listen to these shite "gurus" instead of their customers who tell them plainly what they want?

          Didn't Steve Jobs paraphrase Henry Ford and say, "People don't know what they want until you show it to them."

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Apple are shit nowadays

            People *always* want it to work and to be reliable.

            Whatever "it" is.

            1. DropBear Silver badge

              Re: Apple are shit nowadays

              "People *always* want it to work and to be reliable."

              I'd contend that might depend on which end of the gun the bloke you're asking happens to be looking at...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Apple are shit nowadays

              @Richard12; "People *always* want it to work and to be reliable. Whatever "it" is."

              From "If Range Rovers Are So Unreliable, Why Do People Still Buy Them?":-

              "A few months ago, I had the chance to get up close and personal with a 2013 [Toyota] Land Cruiser, which is the model I want. And do you know what I discovered? The turn signal stalk is from a Toyota Sienna. The steering wheel is from a Toyota Tundra. The window switches are from a Toyota Camry. The Land Cruiser – the mighty Land Cruiser, with its go-anywhere persona and its near-$90,000 price tag – is a parts bin special."

              "This sort of thing may not matter to you, but it matters to the kind of person who spends ninety grand on a luxury SUV. [..] They want everything to be special, unique, high-quality, even if – ultimately – that low-volume “specialness” is probably the major reason Range Rovers are so unreliable.

              But don’t they care that Range Rovers are unreliable? The answer is, quite frankly, no, they don’t. [Their reliability ratings] consistently lose every metric and yet their cars still sell for full sticker – and they usually have a waiting list. Simply put, Range Rover buyers don’t consider things like cost of ownership and long-term durability. They want the nicest car they can get, they own it solely under warranty, and then they get a new one."

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Apple are shit nowadays

                I should also add (but ran out of editing time) that I think it's clear, even to the author, that the bit about the aesthetics of the Toyota wasn't implying that it was bad vehicle, but quite the opposite- the Range Rover is only "better" if you place aesthetics above everything else, and it pays a heavy price for that.

                There's quite likely a good reason why, in the Australian Outback- where a 4x4 is not only required to do *real* work, but where getting stuck in an unreliable vehicle could conceivably cost you your life- the favoured vehicles are Toyota Land Cruisers and not Range Rovers.

                It's almost as if the Land Cruiser was designed with the intended use of a 4x4 in mind, and today's Range Rovers are aimed at people living in hideously overpriced houses in Surrey to impress their neighbours with while they pop out for some milk.

        2. Giovani Tapini

          Re: Apple are shit nowadays

          In my experience the suits are more likely to back the opinion of someone they have paid a lot of money to over reality, common sense, or any other counter opinion e.g. the customers.

          Perhaps due to fear of wasting money, or potential to blame paid person in the event of failure instead of self, or other reasons.

      3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Apple are shit nowadays

        Jony Ive is a designer, not an engineer. They are different beasts. I work with designers. They know (usually) how to make things look nice, but do not comprehend things like heat flow, strength of materials or how much electronics it takes to do things.

        Now, I'm an electrical engineer, and I often have to explain to these talented folks, the facts of life. Like the time a designer wanted a black LED. Yes, he wanted it hidden behind a white translucent panel, and he wanted it to light up black, just like on his nice sketch. And this guy has been in the biz for over 20 years.

        We ended up lighting it up using white LEDs, and he was perfectly OK with that.

        Good for quite a laugh among us EEs when he was out of the room, though.

        // "black LED" icon

        1. Peter X

          Re: black LED

          I was going to try to explain a sketch with Paul Whitehouse painting light bulbs black... however I couldn't remember it, but the whole sketch (and indeed this comment) is wildly off-topic anyway.

          But it's Friday and it's a funny sketch:

          The light-bulb bit is just before the 2 minute mark but you're better watching from the start.

          BEER TIME!

          1. Giovani Tapini

            Re: black LED

            And I always thought Black LED was for making Victorian fireplaces look nice...

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Apple are shit nowadays

          "We ended up lighting it up using white LEDs, and he was perfectly OK with that."

          Why didn't you just specify the panel as having an area of e-ink so you could "Light up" the area in black like he wanted? Then you can let him explain the cost implications to the bosses.


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