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Butterfly Keyboard vs. Magic Keyboard: Which Is Better?

tactile switch keyboard

Butterfly Keyboard vs. Magic Keyboard: Which Is Better?

Apple has a reputation for developing innovative and high-tech products. Among these are its keyboards. The technology giant used to create two types of keyboards for its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops – the butterfly switches and the scissor switches keyboards. However, along the way, Apple did away with the butterfly switches keyboard after numerous consumer complaints and negative reviews. They resorted to their traditional scissor-switch mechanism, with a new name, the “Magic Keyboard”, equipped in its newer computer models.

These keyboards have features that make them suitable for laptops and set them apart from typical keyboards in the market. Except for their mechanism, there’s not much that separates the two. Still, they remain very different products. Briefly, Butterfly Keyboards use the butterfly-switch mechanism, while Magic Keyboards use the scissor-switch mechanism. How do these two keyboard types compare, and which one is better?

This article highlights the similarities and differences between the Butterfly Keyboard and the Magic Keyboard. Read on to find out which one is better for your setup.

Butterfly Keyboard vs. Magic Keyboard: Side-by-Side Comparison

infographic for Butterfly Keyboard vs Magic Keyboard
Butterfly KeyboardMagic Keyboard
Release date20152020
Key travelO.7 mm1 mm
Mechanismbutterfly/wing switchesScissor switches
Assembly Single assemblyTwo part assembly
AvailabilityDiscontinued 2020Available 
Dome switchStainless steelsilicone
Great Performance
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-inch Silver, Mid 2022
  • Uses Apple's new and improved Magic keyboard
  • 13.3-inch Retina Display
  • 8-core M2 CPU
  • FaceTime enable HD camera and excellent, studio level microphone.
  • 10-core GPU for amazing graphics
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Butterfly Keyboard vs. Magic Keyboard: What’s the Difference?

Apple introduced the Butterfly Keyboard in 2015 to make typing more comfortable and to save space. In all honesty, the keyboards achieved that because that year, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were significantly slimmer than previous laptops. The MacBook Pro was 24% thinner than the previous MacBook Air and the Butterfly keyboard was four times more stable than typical scissor switch keyboards. The design was terrific, and the keyboard was sleeker and felt fantastic to type on.

In comparison, the Magic Keyboard is functional and somewhat superior to the Butterfly keyboard in several key aspects. For instance, regarding the durability of laptops, their mechanisms, and their efficiency, the Magic Keyboard comes out slightly on top of the Butterfly Keyboard.

Here are a few differences between the Butterfly Keyboard and the Magic Keyboard to help you determine which is better.

Mechanism

The mechanism employed by the Butterfly Keyboard and the Magic Keyboard is likely the critical aspect setting these two apart. The Butterfly Keyboard uses a wing-like mechanism that looks like a butterfly’s wings, hence the name. Subsequently, the two halves of the butterfly switch connect to a hinge in the middle, and the two sides compress down in a V shape when pressed. Unlike the Butterfly Keyboard, the Magic Keyboard uses a different mechanism – the scissor-switch mechanism. The mechanism, just like the name suggests, has a two parts assembly that attaches the keys to the keyboard and interlocks like a scissor when pressed. 

The Butterfly Keyboard’s mechanism allows for efficient and smooth typing compared to Magic Keyboards. Apple stated that the Butterfly Keyboard would require less pressure to trigger commands, making it more efficient than traditional scissor-switch keyboards.

Key Travel

When using your computer, you press down a key for the computer to register a keystroke. The distance the key travels to depress and trigger a command to the computer completely is called the Key Travel. 

The Butterfly Keyboard improved older scissor-switch keyboards and had less key travel than the latter. However, Apple’s redesigned scissor-switch keyboards have a sleek design that improves travel and reliability. The scissor-switch mechanism has become popular on recent laptop models and wireless keyboards. They might not offer as much key travel as some other types of keys, but clearly they have slightly more travel than Butterfly Keyboards. 

According to the company, the new Magic Keyboard has a 1mm key travel, which is unexpectedly better than the 0.7mm key travel of the Butterfly Keyboards. How is this possible? According to customer complaints, the shallow key travel in the 2015 MacBook Pro models makes typing awkward and unnatural. This simply means that the Magic Keyboard has depth compared to the flatter Butterfly Keyboard. The new keyboard is better if you do not fancy the shallow and stiff feel of the Butterfly Keyboard.

Reliability

A significant concern with the Butterfly Keyboard was its reliability and longevity. The keyboard has everything to love, from the sleek design to smooth and effortless typing. However, all this comes with a compromise – the keyboard is notorious for attracting dust and debris and easily breaking.

Butterfly keys can get jammed up by dirt and other particles easily, resulting in keys that skip keystrokes, keys that don’t press correctly, or keys that repeat letters. That is too much of a compromise for a thinner laptop. It may not look like much, but it helps to have a keyboard you enjoy typing on. The Magic keyboard does not experience such issues and can therefore offer reliable service to you. 

Portability

Butterfly Keyboards edge out Magic Keyboards when it comes to portability. The main reason Apple came up with this invention was to reduce the amount of space the keyboard took up on a laptop. This results in thinner and more portable devices.

At the time of the 2015 MacBook launch, the new MacBook model was the thinnest Apple had ever created, thanks to the Butterfly Keyboard. This invention helped introduce lighter, thinner, and more portable MacBooks. The thinnest laptop Apple had previously made was 17.3 mm thick. The 2015 MacBook was 13.1 mm thick, showing a significant reduction in the size of MacBooks. This difference is at least partially attributed to the new keyboard design.

Previous Version
2017 Apple MacBook Air 13-inch MQD42LL/A Silver (Renewed)
$13.18
  • Uses Apple's Butterfly keyboard
  • Features 1.8GHz Intel i5 dual core CPU (2.9GHz boosted)
  • Has 8GB memory at 1600MHz
  • 1440p x 900p resolution
  • 256GB SSD built in
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/01/2024 03:24 am GMT

Butterfly Keyboard vs. Magic Keyboard: 9 Must-Know Facts

  • Apple introduced the Butterfly Keyboards in 2015 and used them in three generations of MacBooks until 2020, when they discontinued the keyboards.
  • The Magic Keyboard replaced the Butterfly Keyboard in 2020. The Magic Keyboard used an improved scissor-switch mechanism, making it more durable and reliable.
  • Butterfly Keyboards are very fragile and prone to damage, which can cause keys to become unresponsive or faulty.
  • The Magic Keyboard uses a scissor-switch mechanism that interlocks like a scissor when pressed. In contrast, the Butterfly Keyboard uses a butterfly-switch mechanism with a middle hinge resembling a butterfly’s wings.
  • Butterfly Keyboards are the most controversial innovation apple has developed. It received criticism and negative reviews from customers and reviewers so that the company had to switch back to the traditional scissor-switch keyboards.
  • Magic Keyboards have slightly more key travel than Butterfly Keyboards, which gives them a natural feel when typing.
  • Apple developed Butterfly keyboards to take up less space and make the 2015 MacBook models ultra-thin and portable.
  • The Butterfly Keyboard looks attractive even at night with an individual LED for each key, allowing it to be more precise in its illumination.
  • Apple did a lot of redesigning and corrections to the Butterfly Keyboard with no success in making the keyboard any more reliable or efficient.

Butterfly Keyboard vs. Magic Keyboard: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

Considering the differences between the Butterfly Keyboard and the Magic Keyboard, deciding which is better is not an uphill battle. The Magic Keyboard dominates the Butterfly Keyboard in several key aspects. You get more durability and a full typing experience with the Magic Keyboard. The only advantage the Butterfly keyboard has over the Magic Keyboard is its more compact form factor. Other than that, the Magic Keyboard takes the win.

However, if you do not mind the stiffness and occasional faults of the Butterfly Keyboard, have at it. You might enjoy the compactness and smooth typing it gives. Keep in mind that Apple phased out the Butterfly Keyboard, and no longer uses it in its newer MacBook models.

  1. Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-inch Silver, Mid 2022
    • Uses Apple's new and improved Magic keyboard
    • 13.3-inch Retina Display
    • 8-core M2 CPU
    • FaceTime enable HD camera and excellent, studio level microphone.
    • 10-core GPU for amazing graphics
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  2. 2017 Apple MacBook Air 13-inch MQD42LL/A Silver (Renewed)
    $13.18
    • Uses Apple's Butterfly keyboard
    • Features 1.8GHz Intel i5 dual core CPU (2.9GHz boosted)
    • Has 8GB memory at 1600MHz
    • 1440p x 900p resolution
    • 256GB SSD built in
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/01/2024 03:24 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

How much better is the Magic Keyboard than the Butterfly Keyboard?

Significantly better. Considering the drawbacks of the Butterfly Keyboards when Apple was still using them in their laptops, we recommend getting a laptop with the Magic Keyboard. The Butterfly keyboard is unreliable, damages easily, and has a terrible design. On the other hand, the Magic Keyboard has a better design and can handle dust and small particles.

Is the Butterfly Keyboard discontinued?

After multiple attempts to improve the Butterfly Keyboard with little to no success, Apple phased out the butterfly-switch keyboards and switched its entire laptop line to the standard scissor-switch-based Magic Keyboard in 2020. Apple no longer makes laptops with the infamous Butterfly Keyboard, but if you have a 2015-2019 Mac, you are likely using the Butterfly Keyboard.

Why did Apple discontinue the Butterfly Keyboard?

Apple’s Butterfly Keyboard helped introduce lighter and more portable laptops. They are flush with the laptop body and have less key travel, helping shave a few millimeters off the depth of laptops. Regrettably, they are prone to damage, and many customers complained that they had trouble typing on them (stiffness and faults). Apple was finally forced to discontinue the keyboard and return to the conventional scissor-switch keyboard with some improvements.

What advantage does the Butterfly Keyboard have over the Magic Keyboard?

Butterfly keyboards have less travel, meaning there’s less distance the keys have to travel when pressed. Thanks to its design, the keyboard takes significantly less space in laptops than the Magic Keyboard. Pressure applied on keys is also evenly distributed, ensuring you type more accurately even when you strike keys on the side.

What’s the difference between Butterfly Keyboards and Magic Keyboards?

The fundamental difference between the two types of keyboards is their working mechanism. While the Butterfly Keyboard has extended-like wings under the keys with a middle hinge, the Magic Keyboard has switches that interlock like a scissor when pressed.

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