Buying a MacBook has never been more difficult

MacBook

Buying a Mac laptop has never been more difficult. It can be agreed that, Apple has not made a good laptop since 2015. The company unveiled the revamped and “innovative” MacBook Pro in 2016 which completely changed its perspective towards laptops. However, its innovativeness has caused users more problems than actually improving the workflow.

The 2016 MacBook Pro shot up the price of the “Pro” laptops, introduced its new “butterfly” keyboard mechanism (from the MacBook) which is plagued with issues, and a touch bar which is innovation for the sake of innovation. The company took the same path with the new MacBook Air last year by adding the “butterfly” keyboard mechanism and increasing the price.

MACBOOK AIR FOLLOWS

2018 MacBook Air

The keyboard on the new MacBooks received mixed reviews when they were first introduced. However, the people who were forced to upgrade to the only laptop Apple was offering, adjusted. Nonetheless, as time passed by, most users started noticing that, the keyboard would very well stop working in a very short period of time after they had made the purchase.

It was found that, the new keyboard mechanism was unable to deal with dust properly. It having shallow keys i.e less travel, would make in non-usable when even a little amount of dust entered the keyboard. Well, if that happened during the warranty period, the user would have to pay no amount but it still is a headache, having to go for a week without the laptop (unless Apple provides a backup laptop).

FIND A BETTER KEYBOARD MECHANISM

Dust protection layer on the butterfly keyboard

However, if the laptop had crossed the one year mark, the user would have to pay something around $700 just to fix a single key. It’s because of the way the new MacBooks are designed; a single key gone wrong would mean the replacement of the whole keyboard and some other parts. Apple’s design philosophy with the new MacBooks allows it to create striking designs which are thin and compact but in the process they add a huge burden to the user.

Well, the other option would be indulging in Apple’s Protection – Apple Care. It adds additional two years of warranty to the laptop but its not cheap. However, if you do have to buy any of the new MacBook and plan to use it for more than an year, Apple Care is definitely worth it, considering the amount of issues the MacBooks are plagued with.

FLEXGATE: A $600 HEADACHE

Uneven lighting at the bottom [Flexgate]
Uneven lighting at the bottom [Flexgate]
Also, few days ago it was reported that, the MacBook Pros released after 2016 are plagued with a display issue. Some users started to complain about the display showing uneven lighting at the bottom, similar to a stage like effect. iFixit was soon to inspect and report that, the MacBook Pros (2016 and later) use a thin display cable which after repeated opening and closing of the display is prone to fail

Image by iFixit
Image by iFixit

iFixit also added that, the flex cable is loosely wrapped around the display, which is why after repeated usage, the cable could just snap. If a user faces the “uneven lighting” issue on their MacBook, they could very well be looking forward to a complete display failure in the near future. The issue has been named “flexgate” and laptops which are out of warranty would require a $600 deposit to fix the display.

The future of the MacBooks

Apple should consider killing the TouchBar

It has been more than two years since Apple unveiled the current MacBook Pro design and it’s high time that, Apple realise its mistakes and fix them. Apple did add layer of protection to the “butterfly” keyboard to fix some of the dust related issues but its not perfect. The company is expected to announce new MacBooks in October this year when it usually releases new Macs and iPads.

For the next MacBook Pro, we expect Apple to find a better keyboard mechanism without shooting up the price of the laptop. Also, it’s a known fact that, the TouchBar hasn’t been able to live up to the hype and Apple should consider killing it or at-least offer non-TouchBar models with all configurations and not just limit them to the TouchBar.

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  1. I agree with your view that the current offerings are deeply flawed. My wife and I were hoping to update our MBPs in 2016, but chose not to give up the advantages of our older machines. I switched out my HD for an SSD and gained some speed instead, but that just makes it a little easier to wait a bit longer. In the meantime I tried using an iPad for more essential tasks than previously, but that doesn’t work for me – not even close. Thinner and lighter is not a viable design direction. Requiring the use of  newer version OS’s, and thus breaking old software, losing connectivity options, are all significant negatives in my view. The rumoured impending merging of the MacOS and iOS make the future look even more grim. I have considered buying Linux capable laptops, old stock or used Apple laptops, and even old Windows laptops (don’t snicker, at least that OS has good backwards compatibility) but cannot yet bring myself to make these compromises.

    My first Mac was emulated on an Atari in the mid 80’s and ever since I have owned only Macs, so I have led a sheltered, sometimes threatened computing existence, with great hardware and excellent software options. These are grim times indeed and Apple’s design goals seem increasingly divergent from mine. I have money to spend on faster,more capacious, more capable machines but am faced with prettier, more frivolous, dumbed down, limited products from Apple. As an Apple shareholder I am doubly appalled at the company’s direction, although in the meantime I am being well rewarded financially due to the company’s overall success. 

    1. Still using a MBP from 2012, I could not agree with you more. I‘d live to shell out a bunch of money for a new laptop from apple, but the current drawbacks are just too many. 

  2. I’m still using my 13 inch mid 2012 MacBook with no issues. Is it slow in today’s standards, yeah but it works and has lasted me. The best part is all the ports it has. They should make them like before and stop taking out the features we want and need that makes it a pro product. They need to rethink their strategy.

  3. This article doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said thousands of times.  

    Also, it exaggerates the frequency of problems with the butterfly keyboard.  Apple sells 15 to 20 million computers per year (though not all have the butterfly keyboard), so at least 40 million since the butterfly keyboards were added to the 2016 MB Pros.  Not all Apple computers have butterfly keyboards, but a conservative estimate is there are 20 million Macs with butterfly keyboards out there.  Suppose 0.5% (that is, one out of every 200) of them have defective keyboards.  Then there would be 100,000 unfortunate souls with defective butterfly keyboards.  That’s a big number.  

    But the more relevant number for a prospective purchase is the 0.5% defect rate, because it means that you have a 99.5% chance of getting a non-defective one.  

    Finally, the title of this article is irrelevant.  Buying a Mac is difficult only in that Macs are expensive, and that’s always been true.  The title should have reflected what this piece is really about:  a criticism of Apple’s design changes for the MacBook computers over the past few years.  

    iLounge needs to do better than this.  

    1. This article is purely focused on sending the message to Apple that its laptops aren’t great anymore; its not exaggerated. Also, I write this article contains my current thought, I’m planning to buy a MacBook and honestly, it was never this difficult. Prior to the 2016 MBP, it wasn’t such an headache to buy a MacBook Pro. If I needed one, I’d have bought it and used it happily for 5-6 years but now I have to consider the keyboard issues, display cable issues and the high price because of the non-useful TouchBar which also if damaged could cost a fortune. I’ve got the facts right, baby *winks*

  4. Apple is not used to admitting it’s mistakes or being customer friendly.  Currently having an issue with an iphone X (just stopped allowing touch input) while under apple’s one year warranty.  Won’t go into details but what a hassle.

  5. I could see immediately the flaw of the Touch Bar as soon as I played with it.  A user needs consistency in where the keys are located, especially the function keys. So much of our typing is done automatically through “muscle memory.” Fortunately, it was possible to configure the Touch Bar so that certain keys could consistently appear in the same location. That’s how I configure my Touch Bar.

  6. Six months in and I hate the touchbar. It isn’t even that it doesn’t do much, it’s that it gets in its own way more often than it helps, and without a physical key there I often drop my left pinky on the “esc” key, which messes me up constantly.

    If it was a genuinely useful thing I’d be 100% behind it — I’ve been using MBPs since the PowerPC days, and my house is full of apple laptops, phones, ipads and watches, but I have to agree — the touchbar adds a lot of cost and negative value for me.

  7. I was going to upgrade my 2011 MacBook Pro when they started with the crappy keyboard, no function keys and no real ports, so passed. Unfortunately the video card died so I had no choice. At least the 2018 version has the modified keyboard, but it’s still a pain to use and NOISY!

    I do some astronomical photo processing, so one bright point was the newer, faster processor. Until I tried to use it. Even with the latest cpu throttling it still overheats and the process just dies (is silently killed). So I have to artificially sandbag it to not use so much of the fast cpu that I paid for.

    Now we learn that if you actually open and close the lid that the screen connecting cable will fail, and rather than a few dollars (plus annoyance) to replace it, it’s part of the screen, so it’s $600+ to fix it.

    Apple seriously needs to but a few guns. Then, if anyone ever says the word “thin”, shoot them dead on the spot. It’s the only way some people learn.

  8. Cook continues to attack everything that made the MBP great.  It’s almost as if he was trying to erase Jobs’ legacy.  This is why we don’t have the magsafe or the light up logo anymore.  The question the board of directors should be answering is, why do we still have Mr. Cook ?

    1. agreed…..cook is typical democrat in democrat country and cares less about customers and what is best for them and the company……another person suggest he is trying to kill the MBP and he is 100% correct….why do you think there are so many models with so much variability in them…..$200 for SSD upgrades is absolutely highway robbery coupled with the fact that, that stupid touch bar and keyboard are the biggest busts go the company…..if it weren’t because i was so invested in apple products, i would go to something else

  9. My MacBook was three times the cost of a PC laptop and lasted just twice as long as a PC laptop. All in all, a very poor purchase. I’m using a $250 PC laptop now on which I replaced windows with Linux. So far this is looking to have been a very smart move. 

      1. Between myself and my wife I count 8 Macs since the Atari one in 1986, 5 of them laptops. Also 2 iPads and one iPad mini. 

        Why do you ask? 

        I’ve also used almost all of their OS’s but I’m definitely not an early adopter. 

        I’ve used other computers back to the sixties, and have been battling many brands of printers ever since 1966. 

        I’m sure Apple cares most about early adopters, fashion-conscious types, and people looking to do one or two types of tasks with their machines. Versatility, computing power, and mechanical and OS solidity are not the most valuable features for their new products. 

  10. I’ve had mine for almost two years, and haven’t experienced any of these problems. Even if it did have some of these issues, it still beats any Windows Device. I had nothing but endless problems and headaches with those. There is a reason people call them Disposable. That’s all they are good for, a garbage can! Since switching to Mac around 10-12 years ago, I have had nothing but good luck with every Apple Computer that I have owned. Switch over to a windows PC. You will have a better appreciation for your Mac when you switch back. 

    1. Around that time I’d argue mac’s OS was far more accessible and reliable than windows… but times have certainly changed. Windows ten blows mac os out of the water in most practical uses. Plus buying a mac means paying a fortune for objectively inferior components. You must not use your computer very intensively nor have any general understanding of CPU builds

      1. It is still personal preference.  I have the 2015 MBP, which is still going strong.  No need for me to change or upgrade this until it stops being supported by OSX.  I maintain my wifes Windows 10 laptop (her 2nd in 3 year) and desktop, and for me they are a nightmare.  All just personal choice.

  11. My biggest issue with the Touch Bar is the lack of feedback. Adding haptics would fix that. 

    My keyboard (2 years old) had gotten a little wonky. I’m planning to take it in soon. 

  12. I use to work in Geek Squad and when I saw the touchbar launch a few years back, all I could think was, My god what has Apple gone and done.   So many people returned them.   I have a 2012 MBP and would love to upgrade but, No way.   I’m praying it lasts.

  13. Your article is missing the mention of “Apple’s keyboard replacement program” which replaces the keyboard up to 4 years from the date of purchase for certain MacBooks. Honestly I like the keyboard. 

    I am not sure if complaining about MacBook’s keyboard has become a fashion, just like how we complain about everything else on the internet and make a big fuss about something which might not be as glaring. In a way it’s a good thing, this constant writing about the issue makes companies look into the issue seriously. So it goes both ways. 

    1. ooh yeah, yes the “keyboard replacement programs”. Thanks for noting. And yes, that’s my plan – make Apple think about the mistakes it has made and rectify 🙂

  14. I got an iPad Pro in August 2017 and sold my MacBook. I can safely say that I will NEVER go back to using a laptop again. I do have an iMac that I use at home, but I use my iPad for almost everything. I am an artist, though, so my work would differ from other people’s. I will also say, though, that I have a Wacom tablet on my iMac and have all but stopped using it because the experience on iPad Pro painting apps is just so much better.

  15. One of the biggest problems is that if you want to buy a higher end Mac, you have to have it custom built in Shanghai and sent to you or the store.  You can’t simply walk into an Apple store and walk out with your MacBook Pro. The Apple Stores do not stock Macs with 32GB of RAM.   This just proves that Apple does not care about the developers that build apps for its products. 

    I also agree with others that the Touch Bar gets in the way.  It’s not particularly useful but after typing on a 2014 and 2015 Mac for years, moving to this keyboard with the Touch Bar has caused lots of typos, turning the sound off/on, engaging Siri etc when I’m just trying to message a friend. 

    Also, the loss of the mag adapter for power? Really Apple? 

    1. I can’t take your articles seriously due to your predilection for presenting your point of view as “facts”, and for inappropriate use of commas. “It’s high time that, Apple realise…” is but one example of your comma misuse. There is no natural pause in that sentence, so don’t put a comma there. Your writing is decent but the commas need to go. 

  16. Thanks for the great article.  I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one unhappy with this year’s Mac laptops.  I have a 2015 MBP, which is great — a good keyboard and lots of usable ports, and the price was not ridiculous (I think it was about $2500 for my model).  I’m hoping Apple listens to frustrated users and fixes the laptop problems.

    1. I hope so as well but seems like they are content to the line, “they’ll buy it the way we want to build it or they can go screw themselves”.  Stocks went up for awhile, sure wasn’t based on the MBP. Apple, wake up and listen to your customers. Hey if Harley can do it so can you. But then I own Harley’s and stock. No stock in Apple yet. 

  17. My MBP is four years old now , and the company would replace it, but I like my current display , keyboard , and MagSafe II power, so I’m keeping mine until something breaks. Why would I want to downgrade?

  18. Thanks for this article. Just wanted your audience to know: I purchased a new MacBook (the MacBook) in June 2018 and headed out to travel Europe and other places for the next few months. In September 2018, I had inoperable keys (keyboard) issue you mention. Keyboard was found to be defective (due to the butterfly mechanism/dust issue) and the top case was replaced (under Apple Care that I purchased). In October, in Canada, I had the same issue — the Apple Store in Calgary was going to give me a new laptop, but could not do an exchange because of the Point of Sale system from US to Canada. *But, now I was armed with the knowledge of this “exchange” as a possibility. I had a third keyboard issue in November but was still abroad. When I called Apple to tell them that I’d planned to “politely yet assertively demand” a new laptop when I returned to the States, they agreed to do a FULL REFUND. I returned the laptop to them ASAP and was issued a full refund. (FIVE MONTHS after purchase). 

  19. True.  Still running (a very tuned and upgraded) 2012 MBP and can’t find anything after it that would tempted me to upgrade.  I’m a long time machine user (system 6 anyone) and consider going Microsoft surface now….

  20. There have been other input issues too, as seen on Apple forums. The text would reinsert itself in a different part of a document or post, or disappear completely. They replaced most of the hardware in my Pro twice, with a shotgun approach to this. Would have been cheaper for them to replace the laptop. Took a long time for Apple to acknowledge this, and even their own support people were not told.

  21. I’m clinging tightly to my mid-2015 15” MBP for a while. I don’t want those terrible keys that barely move on the new Macbooks and I really dislike the Touchbar just on principle that its a dumb idea. If my MBP died tomorrow I’d buy a Windows machine until Apple releases something worth buying at a reasonable price. At least a price I don’t immediately laugh at. 

    1. Same here.  Have my Asus Zenbook 15.4 if I feel the need to go back to Win 10. I enjoyed Win 7 so maybe I better just stay with that. Like the 2015 MBP so much that I have 2 now. One was for myself and the other for my ex wife so she stays in touch. She won’t touch it, backup MBP new in box I guess. 

  22. My father has been an OSX/MacOS user since he bought a black plastic MacBook Core Duo in 2003. He used for work, took very good care of it, and kept using it after he retired, despite me repeatedly suggesting he get an upgrade. It finally failed last month (the battery began to swell, pushing the keyboard up – I made sure he stopped using it immediately and disposed of the battery safely) and he asked my advice on which MacBook to get. For all the reasons above, plus price, and the simple fact none of the current models could be expected to last even half of the sixteen years he got out of his last machine, I told him to get a cheap Dell ChromeBook as a portable machine, and a Mac Mini for the office. He followed my advice and is thrilled with his new machines. 

    As I see it, the current MacBooks are all far too compromised: Apple’s best portable offering right now is an iPad, so why not save money on something that at least has a built in keyboard and can (at a push) run Linux? Cook really needs to address these issues, because my 2014 MacBook Air has already had a new battery and top case, so the next failure will probably require a new machine, and at this rate, it won’t be a Mac. 

    1. You told him to buy a cheap Dell laptop and within the next three months he’ll be wondering why it takes ten years to launch google chrome

      1. No, I told him to get a cheap (relative to a Macbook/MBP/MBA) current generation Dell Chromebook, which should be pretty good for running ChromeOS for at least the next three years, by which time Apple might’ve addressed the issues with their current Macbook range. 

        And if not, he can simply get another Chromebook and rinse and repeat until they do fix them: a new Chromebook every three years would work out as the same price as buying a base model Macbook now, but it’d last 12 years, which the Macbook really wouldn’t. 

        It’s nice of you to try to join in, but at least try to read comments properly before replying to them, eh? 

  23. Yeah, I’m pretty much done with Apple purchases for awhile but then I immensely added to their bottom line in 2017. Read about the 15” MBP issues and went with their 2015 model, iPad Pro, phone, watch, iPod. The entire switch from Android and Windows stuff. Been happy so far and if I add anything it’ll be the Mac mini once they add USB 4.0. We’ll see how that all works out. With four TB3 ports it might never happen and might never even be a need. Want. Rumor of a16” MBP but if it’s built like the current line up then piss off. Built to customer wants, not what you want to force down our throats. Not buying that shit ever again. My 2012 mini works just fine. Want my cash, built to customer desires. 

  24. You can buy a MacBook Pro latest gen without the touch bar lol. This author got upset at Apple and just started writing down random complaints in an article 

    1. Reliability of Macbooks has fallen off a cliff since the new models came out, starting with the Macbook in 2015. I’m actually surprised the OP left out Apple’s bizarre removal of Magsafe in favour of USB-C ports that no one wanted, landing users in dongle hell. Macs have always been overpriced, but they’re currently overpriced while compromising on quality, reliability and features. And I’m speaking as someone who prefers to use MacOS and has spent far more on Macs than I’d like to admit. But you do you. 

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