iFixit uncovers the Force Touch trackpad in the 2015 13in Retina MacBook Pro

Susie Ochs
13 March, 2015
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Force Touch, MBP, macworld australiaIf you can’t wait to get your fingers on the Force Touch trackpad in the new MacBook announced Tuesday, get to an Apple Store. The new trackpad – which simulates clicks by vibrating a taptic engine, even though the trackpad itself isn’t hinged and doesn’t move – makes an appearance in the newly refreshed 13in Retina MacBook Pro as well.

iFixit tore down a new Retina MacBook Pro and discovered some secrets Apple didn’t reveal at it’s special event. For starters, the trackpad has its own chips, including an ST Microelecronics 32F103 ARM Cortex-M based microcontroller and a Broadcom BCM5976 touch digitizer (also found in the iPhone 5s and iPad Air).

Apple said the early 2015 Retina MacBook Pro would enjoy a little extra battery life over the previous version, which makes sense because it’s using Intel’s more efficient Broadwell chipset. But iFixit found the battery is larger too, up to 74.9 watt-hours, four percent larger than the late 2013 model. It’s not even one battery: iFixit dug out an array of lithium-polymer cells, which were covering the trackpad assembly. (The large amounts of glue keeping the batteries secured contributed to the Retina MacBook Pro’s pretty dismal reparability score of 1, on a scale of 10.)

iFixit isn’t convinced that the Force Touch trackpad in this Retina MacBook Pro is the same as what we’ll see in the MacBook when it ships 10 April, but it likely works the same way: A series of electromagnets “push and pull against a metal rail mounted beneath the trackpad, to create a tiny ‘buzz’ of feedback with each click (and a second buzz for a ‘force click’).”

This buzzing is enough to make you forget the trackpad isn’t physically clicking – Jason Snell loved it immediately for just that reason. Because software controls the taptic engine, you can even tweak how hard you’ll have to press to trigger ‘clicks’ and ‘force clicks’ right in System Preferences.

iFixit’s full teardown of the early 2015 13in Retina MacBook Pro is worth a read. The company ripped apart the newly refreshed MacBook Air models (both 11in and 13in) earlier this week too. Can’t wait to see what they find when they get their spudgers on the new MacBook.

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