After introducing the Butterfly keyboard in 2015, Apple persisted with it for 4 years until mounting customer complaints forced them to abandon it in favour of a more traditional Scissor Switch design. The Butterfly switch is more prone to getting small particles such as crumbs lodged underneath, which due to its very shallow design stops it from working.
Rest assured that all new MacBooks no longer come with the Butterfly keyboard — however what if you’re looking to buy a second-hand MacBook? Unless you’re able to get a really good deal, you’ll want to avoid any models which include the Butterfly keyboard. There’s a good chance keys could break on you and stop working, leading to expensive repairs. In this article we’ll go through which MacBook models use the Butterfly keyboard and which use the Scissor Switch, so you’ll know the ones to consider purchasing.
Butterfly era: 2015-2017
The second iteration of MacBook was the computer Apple used to debut the Butterfly keyboard, so unfortunately you’re straight out of luck if you were looking to get one of these. All models include the Butterfly, from 2015 to 2017. Unless of course you go back to the late 2000s and pick up one of the white polycarbon ones:
They’re probably too old to use in the 2020s though, so instead consider the next on our list, the MacBook Air:
Butterfly era: 2018-2019
Apple neglected the MacBook Air for quite some time while they focused on the aforementioned MacBook, so the ultraportable didn’t get the Butterfly keyboard until its redesign in 2018. This meant MacBook Airs only had the unreliable keyboard design for 2 years, till it’s replacement in 2019. Having said that the pre-2018 Air was sorely outdated and certainly wouldn’t be a good buy for the 2020s either, so if you want a MacBook Air go for the newer 2019 model or later.
If you don’t wish to spend the money for a late model MacBook Air, there is one last option available — the MacBook Pro:
Butterfly era: 2016-2019
The MacBook Pro has had the Butterfly keyboard for the longest time out of all Apple’s portables. Like the MacBook Air, it switched to the Scissor mechanism from 2019 onward, so those machines are safe to buy without any fear of keyboard issues.
For those looking to spend less money, the pre-Butterfly 2014-2015 models of MacBook Pro are still popular on the second-hand market. They feature high-res Retina displays and are plenty powerful enough for most tasks. Their resale values have remained quite robust, likely because of user’s aversion to the four years of Butterfly models that followed — however the 2015 MacBook Pro is still a much cheaper alternative to the current generation of post-Butterfly computers.