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If you plan on getting a MacBook, research on the features and faults of Apple’s devices can go a long way in shaping your buying decision. You don’t want to purchase a new device only to find that it has a notorious problem.
But if you’ve already purchased a MacBook and notice an issue, there might be a way around it. Here are some of Apple’s biggest MacBook hardware blunders, and how to fix them if you’re affected.
1. Early Generations of the Butterfly Keyboard
When Apple launched the revamped 12-inch MacBook in 2015, it came with a noticeably different keyboard. According to the company, the redesign of the keyboard was meant to accommodate the sleek frame of the machine.
The butterfly mechanism underneath the keys certainly resulted in thinner keys than the traditional scissor mechanism. Over time, Apple implemented this design on the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models as well. At the time of writing, Apple’s machine includes the third-generation butterfly keyboard.
However, for most Mac users, the butterfly keyboard has been more of a hindrance than a help. In particular, the space bar was highly unreliable. After a period of use, it felt like it was bottoming out on the right side, with only the left side responding to a press.
Apple’s keyboard also featured several instances of sticky keys. This was a result of the shallow depth of the keys, making it easy for them to get stuck within the grooves of the board.
Even worse, the keyboard was also sensitive to dust and debris. If dust particles get under the key, you can likely expect it not to function correctly again. These problems are present from the first generation to third-generation butterfly keyboards.
If you’re dealing with a case of dust or food debris under your keyboard, make use of a toothpick to remove it. We’ve also looked at what you can do to fix a stuck MacBook keyboard. People who’ve had constant cases of stuck keys or a malfunctioning space bar may qualify for Apple’s Keyboard Service Program.
2. MacBook Pro SSD Failure
If you bought a 13-inch MacBook Pro between 2017 and 2018, there’s a chance you might lose your data. You may also get locked out from accessing the drive.
As it turns out, Apple had issues with its batch of SSDs for this generation of laptops. According to Apple, some of its 128GB and 256GB 13-inch Macbook Pro units had a system fault which could trigger loss of data on the SSD. Knowing the warning signs that your SSD is about to fail can help you safeguard against issues like this.
To check if your laptop suffers from this fault, you need to identify the MacBook Pro model you have. Only the non-Touch Bar 13-inch laptops are affected by this.
Head to Apple’s Solid State Drive Service Program page and enter your device’s serial number to see if you’re eligible. If you are, then Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will service your affected drive for free. We recommend backing up your Mac data immediately and going in for service as soon as possible, as you may irrecoverably lose data otherwise.
3. Delamination of Retina Display Coating
When talking about Mac missteps, it is impossible not to include the Retina display delamination. This was a problem in MacBook and MacBook Pro models manufactured from 2012 to 2017.
Apple’s Retina display is a marketing name for its high pixel density screens, which result in a clearer picture. Unfortunately, many of the MacBook models to first offer this display had faults with delamination, which occurs when a material breaks into layers.
At first, the fracture appears on the Retina display’s anti-reflective coating as smudges, until it spreads and forms a layer on the screen. When this happens, it’s much harder to use the display on your Mac.
According to Apple, impact or stress to the surface of the display can lead to this. However, people also identified that the coating applied to the Retina display was too weak. This, in turn, affects the ability of the surface to withstand stress.
There is no sure fix for the delamination of your Mac’s Retina display. At one point, Apple offered affected users replacement screens. However, this service has expired.
Unless you feel confident enough to replace the display yourself, you’re best off contacting Apple Support or an authorized service provider to look into replacement options.
4. The Touch Bar
Although some may swear by the usefulness of the Touch Bar in the MacBook Pro, this innovative feature has plenty of faults that make it a worthy addition to the list.
The Touch Bar was launched with the 2016 MacBook Pro. This strip of OLED screen, in place of the old function keys, provided dynamic controls for Mac programs. While it’s a fun feature and cool selling point in the store, it wasn’t all beneficial.
As the Touch Bar was a replacement for the function keys, the general anticipation was that it would improve efficiency. However, most found the Touch Bar more disappointing than anything.
Unlike the function keys, which were fast and responsive to instructions, the Touch Bar makes performing common actions slower. For example, adjusting brightness with a function key takes a split-second with muscle memory. In the case of the Touch Bar, you have to focus on the bar, aim your finger, and move a slider to perform the same action.
This is especially the case with the common Escape key, which can disappear with certain Touch Bar controls. Another fault is how easy it is to accidentally trigger actions by a mere brush of your fingers over the bar.
Unfortunately, unlike the other problems listed above, there is no official Apple recall or servicing for these issues. We recommend either making the Touch Bar more useful for you, or you can disable the Touch bar completely if you prefer.
Is Buying a Mac Still Worth It?
We’ve seen above that even Apple isn’t immune to hardware issues and blunders. Whether you buy an old or new Mac, there’s chance you could run into some of the problems above.
However, most other aspects of Apple’s computers are top-notch. These are relatively minor blemishes on otherwise solid computers, so you can still buy with confidence in most cases. If you have other issues with your Mac, have a look at the best free tools to fix common macOS issues.