back to article That awful Butterfly has finally fluttered off: Apple touts 13-inch MacBook Pro with proper keyboard, Escape key

Ding dong, the godawful Butterfly keyboard is dead. With today's launch of the refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple's loathed keyboard tech is finally gone — although it'll no doubt linger in the form of refurbished and second-hand units. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro uses the same scissor-switch-based keyboard found on the 16- …

  1. karlkarl Silver badge

    "although it'll no doubt linger in the form of refurbished and second-hand units"

    Unlike better manufacturers, Apple kit doesn't really lend itself to anything but landfill once it goes out of consumer warranty. We probably won't need to worry.

    1. ThomH

      Apple's warranty period in the UK is one year. In your imagination there is not a single piece of functioning Apple equipment more than one year old?

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        Point made, but in the UK, is not 2 years a mandatory minimum?

        1. ThomH

          I looked up Apple's official warranty; it states that it "is a voluntary manufacturer’s warranty. It provides rights separate to rights provided by consumer law", so I guess you get the 'good' warranty for a year, then whatever else is required by law?

          Either way, I tend to keep my Apple computers running for about five years before an upgrade tempts me, my current iPhone is a 6s from 2015 and it's still going strong (heavy caveat: I have replaced the battery), and I've a first-generation iPod that still works fine for the 45 minutes its battery holds charge for.

          I've had two Apple computers fail on me in less than five years — a MacBook Pro that ended up being involved in the Nvidia recall of about a decade ago, and a 2015 Retina MacBook that failed without any connection to a recall programme. In the latter case there was some sort of thermal issue, but they fixed it for free despite being quite far out of warranty.

          Those two contrast with another ten or eleven Macs that I've either owned, or been given possession of through work, due primarily to my bad habit of almost always changing jobs after two years but also because a couple of my employers have allocated multiple Macs to me. They're pretty much pervasive throughout US tech.

          Additionally, I had every iPhone through to the 6s and never a failure, though I separately had a fourth-generation iPad at some point that failed. My first-generation iPad is still going strong, though for that matter so is my Nexus 5x and my Nexus 7 2013, both of which have famous issues, so probably my anecdotes in net aren't that valuable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Just as an adjunct, I worked for a National Telecoms Company (not a difficult one to figure out in the UK) and we got used to having iPhones failing every six months or so in daily use. Of the guys in my team (20 or so) only one had an iPhone for a personal device, we were that p*ssed off with their unreliabilty.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              We have found that we tend to see a lot of company iPhones fail when there’s a new one out.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Eh?

      If you wanted to make a point about the design failings that made the fault prone keyboards difficult and costly to repair then you should have just said so. And we'd have agreed.

      What you actually said is demonstrably wrong. Apple kit usually holds a good resale value compared to other brands - the historical market data is clear. This is in part to them still being usuable after a few years - a cheap Dell laptop often left plugged in won't have any useful battery capacity left after a year, an Apple or Toshiba, as examples will do, due to cell matching and smarter charging control.

      As for end of life, aluminium laptops are easier to recycle than ABS or carbon fibre laptops - reducing landfill is the point of it.

      Oh, and using glue make recycling easier because dismantling can be done with a conveyor belt through an oven - if you paid a person to undo dozens of screws the recycling would be uneconomic.

    3. SW10
      WTF?

      Landfill tax

      Apple kit doesn't really lend itself to anything but landfill once it goes out of consumer warranty.

      Damn. Both the ‘refurbished’ MacBooks I bought from the Apple Store for personal use must have been brand new. And they even knocked about 20% off the price.

      With that kind of business sense, will Apple ever make a profit?

    4. katrinab Silver badge
      Happy

      I recently retired a 10 year old MacBook Pro. The Core 2 Duo is getting a little slow, but it still works, and still runs the latest versions of most software.

    5. Oh Matron! Silver badge

      My mum has just refreshed her 2008 Macbook (Alu). Her only reason was that she had some spare cash after a cruise cancellation and wanted something lighter.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        > Her only reason was that she had some spare cash after a cruise cancellation and wanted something lighter.

        The laptop or her wallet?

        <ba dum tish>

    6. GiantKiwi

      I'm typing this on a 6.5 year old macbook pro which still has a battery health of 86%, despite being nearly 50% above the recommended power cycles. Still comfortably getting above 5 hours charge on semi intensive tasks. Prior to getting macbook's i went through 7 Dell Latitude and Precision laptops in a similar time period, because they were always obselete 10 months after launch, with batteries that needed replacing 6 months after purchase.

      I recently explored selling this one to assist in the costs of getting a newer one and discovered that even in the shoddy external condition i have it in, the likes of CeX were offering as much as £400 for it (in-store appraisal prior to lockdown). A similarly aged and specced Dell can be bought used for £20.

      I'd say that fairly well contradicts your biased view on reusability.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        We know that MacBooks tend to be around for a long time and fetch good money used.

        I really don’t understand why folk need to tell lies about them being “landfill”. A psychologist reading might be able to point out which insecurities.

        1. steviebuk Silver badge

          Because their policy of being against right to repair. And the piece that was done on them on the news in America. Taking a MacBook in with an issue and being told it would cost over 1000 to have it "repaired" would be cheaper to just get a new one. When taken to an independent repair shop, only about 80 would of been charged and turned out it was just a pin bent on the motherboard power connector.

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    No option to upgrade GFX

    Of course there is, TB3, external graphics....

    Has my MBP happily driving the five screens I use for work.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: No option to upgrade GFX

      That's not a portable computer anymore, is it?

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: No option to upgrade GFX

        Depends on the screen sizes....

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: No option to upgrade GFX

        The computer is portable, the screens are not... unless you count an iPad as auxiliary screen (dunno why that wasn't a day one feature of the iPad).

        The external GPUs allow you more grunt at home or at the office, but machine is still capable of running AutoCAD Fusion whilst on the proverbial train. And really, upgrading a GPU... if you find you need much more than what is originally built into the laptop, you likely need more than *can* be built into a laptop - racks, render farms, spare GPU capacity from other computers on site, or just renting from the cloud are more likely to be what you're after.

        As a PC user (because Apple's shift to Unixy OS and Intel happened too late to catch the CAD software falling from the Unixy mainframe and SGI workstation and into the open arms of Windows NT), I've been waiting years for external GPUs to become mainstream - ever since Sony released that VAIO Z with the Thunderbolt-over-USB A setup. Aw, Sony. If it takes Apple's my-way-or-the-highway approach and purchasing power to get Thunderbolt widely adopted then it suits me fine. I don't use Macs so it doesn't cost me anything, but the things worth doing are picked up by other PC vendors eventually. Except, that is, for Microsoft who claim Thunderbolt is a security risk because of DMA, and please use our proprietary cable so you can't easily dock and charge using a standard, oh, and no external GPUs or video transcoders for you, sorry. Shame, cos they deserve credit for bringing back4:3 screens.

        Meanwhile, those Razor laptops look very good. Good GPUs, look like black MacBooks instead of a teenager's sketch of a Lamborghini-branded toasted sandwich-grill with extra flashing lights.

      3. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: No option to upgrade GFX

        Yes, it’s a portable computer - I don’t use 5 screens on the train - but similarly you could reasonably take an eGPU with you as well for pure processing grunt, but why are you doing that in a laptop and not an actual workstation or a server?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: No option to upgrade GFX

          > but why are you doing that in a laptop and not an actual workstation or a server

          You still need a terminal to use the headless sever, so why not a laptop shaped terminal? If you're using a server, what advantage does using a workstation give you?

          If you're dealing with high Input Output - say video editing - then yeah, you need a local machine that can handle it. Workstations will have more Thunderbolt channels than laptops.

          Another thing for video editors - the Red Cinema hardware decoder is £6000. It makes sense for it to be an external unit so that it can be used by whichever member of the studio needs it at the time - or taken to shoots.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No option to upgrade GFX

        > That's not a portable computer anymore, is it?

        Think of it as a workstation with a built-in UPS.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple have lost it

    Ive been an Apple customer since 1980 and my first Apple II, but the latest round of laptops has just lost it for me. There is nothing about them that has the appeal of my current MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014) with its magnetic power cable and a decent range of USB and HDMI ports. When I got it I specced it high with 16Gb RAM, 1TB ssd, and a Nvidia Gforce GT750M. In terms of value for money it is the best Mac Ive got. The current MBPs for an equivalent spec are orbital prices up to about £4K, I think I paid about £1.8K when I got this one. I don't know what value Apple think they are creating with the current crop of MPBs, but I wont be spending money on them any time soon, not least because they wont support my 32 bit applications which I have invested in over the years.

    1. ThomH

      Re: Apple have lost it

      I had a 2011 MacBook Air and grew strongly to dislike its MagSafe; twice in four years I had to source a replacement power adaptor because the cable frays so easily at the computer end, though admittedly the l-shaped ones are much worse for that than the t-shaped. But I think the USB-C chargers are a big win because you can just replace the cable.

      Otherwise, the return of the escape key makes me think that Apple are at least now back on an upswing.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Apple have lost it

        Usb-c replace the cable, or the laptop if your dog runs past at catches the cable.

        MagSafe was excellent, and even if their cables weren’t the best it’s still a system that ought to be in common use

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Apple have lost it

        3rd party USB-C magnetic breakaway connectors are available for around a fiver. Handy if your power cable is hanging off the side of your desk and you have children and animals.

        If you're docking with USB C to a desk-bound monitor, I guess a MagSafe-style magnetic break away connector is less useful.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Apple have lost it

          If you're connected to a bunch of desktop equipment, you have other cables you could also use to drag your machine off the desk if bumped improperly, but fortunately you have more space to place them where they're not in the way. The usefulness of a magnetic connector is for those times when your computer is plugged in in a location that would make it easy for something to put force on the cable, so mostly when you are working portably. The suggestion of magnetic USB-C connectors is good, and I'll have to look at them. My main concern is whether they work well with high-powered devices--for example, I really don't want to end up melting something into my USB port by running 87W through a £5 adapter, so I really hope they've been tested to that level. Similarly, the cable that connects to that magnetic adapter should also be capable of such power levels. If I can find positive test results of that, I think I'll be buying a few of those.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Apple have lost it

            >My main concern is whether they work well with high-powered devices--for example, I really don't want to end up melting something into my USB port by running 87W through a £5 adapter, so I really hope they've been tested to that level.

            I guess a 6" USB C extension cable might give you some peace of mind - £2.50 from eBay. Any failure in the magnetic connector will melt the ectendiincae and not your computer.

            But yeah, do research the magnetic breakaway adaptors, might be better to spend a little more for a reputable brand.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Apple have lost it

          Yep - On my desk the cables are properly managed so that there is no risk of them being 'caught' by anything passing. The laptop is actually powered by the eGPU on its stand at the desk, so a magnetic connection wouldn't be useful, the second USB-C on that side is used for my 'connectivity' dongle.

          When I move it to the sofa or the dining room table, I'd really like it to have MagSafe as an option. The connector isn't that thick, so I suspect that they'd be able to squeeze one onto the side.

          I am tempted to get a converter doodad for the end of the cable, but all the 'insert' pieces seem to be quite bulky.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Apple have lost it

      My partner has one, I despise Apple kit. Was playing with it wanting to put VMs on it. Then discovered they'd sold her the one with a tidy amount of hard drive space (purchased before me). Its no longer 2015 and I looked to see how much a 1TB drive would be for it. HOW MUCH! But its from 2015!

      Fucking Apple bullshit prices!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    specs vs. prices

    I laughed at the specs vs. the prices when opening my mid-2012 Macbook Pro.

    It had a 2.3 GHz i7, 8 GB of RAM, 512 GB of SSD and a GTX650M GPU. I can't recall exactly but I think I paid it less that 2000 E !

    Given SSDs were very expensive back then, vs. almost free today, I'm just wondering how can they justify so high prices for so low level kit ...

    1. Wyrdness

      Re: specs vs. prices

      I've just checked the price of my Macbook Air, which I bought in May 201. It cost £679 (Apple refurbished) with i5, 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM. It's still going strong, in use everyday and total cost of ownership is now about £2/week.

      Apple's prices now are much higher, when their competitors seem to have come down. But even back then, everyone was complaining about how expensive Apple kit was.

      The new Macbook Pro does seem a bit underwhelming, especially the lower end models. They should have bumped the screen size up to 14" to differentiate it more from the Air. If you want a larger screen, then the only option is the ridiculously expensive 16" model.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: specs vs. prices

      Factor in your windows and office licenses (since the OS and productivity software are included with a mac), then factor in the fact that, as a family, we are still using a Mac mini that's 8+ years old, and a MBP that's 6+ years old as well as my "old" work laptop that I bought from my employer that is 4 years old.

      I know hardware is progressing less significantly each year than it did twenty odd years ago, but that's still a pretty good lifespan for consumer grade hardware, certainly more than I recall getting out of either prebuilt or home built machines (except as SETI@home clients).

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: specs vs. prices

        I'm still using a 8 year old Lenovo i7 with 32GB RAM. Only cost just over 1k at the time if I remember right. Now swapped out the HDD with a 1TB SSD that only cost either 80 or just over 100 in a sale. Only thing on it is the battery is pretty much dead. Lasts about 20mins on battery. But thats not an issue as I don't move it about. And it plays Rimworld perfectly. Can upgrade the RAM myself, no soldered on bullshit. Taken the keyboard out myself and given the insides a clean. Apple don't want even their own owners doing that with their objection to right to repair.

        They all last if you take care of them and keep the OS fresh.

    3. DemeterLast

      Re: specs vs. prices

      Since I've been left behind with Mojave and Catalina not supported on my 2011 MBP, I've been watching the 2015 MBP used market. It's the last MB I'm interested in as while the battery is only barely replaceable, at least the SSD is upgradeable.

      I wouldn't mind the soldered-on and glued down parts of the current crop if that meant they were cheaper to spec out for future expansion. I got 9 years out of mine because I could upgrade the drive, RAM and replace the aging battery. But I'm not dropping $3000 on a fully loaded 13" MBP. I'd rather give up and go back to using FreeBSD or Linux.

    4. ThomH

      Re: specs vs. prices

      I'm not sure that's completely fair.

      The 16" i7 2.6Ghz MacBook Pro today has a list price of $2,399.00. Your i7 2.3Ghz had a list price of $2,799, which is the equivalent of $3,146 today, accounting for inflation.

      That said, the newer machine is only 55% faster for single-core work, though it is 106% faster for multicore.

      If you instead max out the CPU speed in a MacBook Pro, you get a 2.4Ghz i9 for $2,999.00, still a little cheaper in real terms. But now you get an extra 70% (single) or 160% (multi) processing capacity over the 2012 model.

      So I'm not sure the relative value of a MacBook Pro has become any worse.

      Suggested new Apple slogan: in terms of value, we're not getting any worse.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It's not only Apple. Tis Assus as a prlem wic te kes in he mdlle clumn and te vwels n the rgt and tp rw tend t miss.

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