If you bought a MacBook with one of Apple’s low-profile butterfly keyboards, if you’ve had your keyboard repaired, and if you live in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, or Washington state, good news! A judge approved a $50 million class-action settlement that Apple agreed to in July, meaning payments to affected users (and the lawyers involved) could start soon.
According to Macworld, there will be three tiers of payouts: $50 for people who have had individual keys replaced, $125 for people who have had a keyboard replacement, and $395 for people who have had two or more keyboard replacements.
For those unfamiliar, MacBooks released between 2015 and 2019 used a new low-profile keyboard with a “butterfly” switch mechanism that saved space but also resulted in firmer keys that moved less than before. Early complaints were mostly subjective and centered on the feel of the keyboard compared to previous scissor switch designs. But as time went on, it became clear that butterfly key keyboards also failed at a higher rate than scissor key designs. These problems persisted despite at least four major revisions to the throttle switch mechanism.
While the company has never admitted fault (and maintains, despite the class-action settlement, that it did nothing wrong), Apple launched a repair program in 2018 that offered four years of free repair coverage to owners of all models. of MacBook with butterfly keyboards. Surprisingly, this program covered all butterfly key MacBook models, including those that were introduced later the repair program was started, suggesting that the design was flawed in ways that Apple could not resolve with hardware revisions. Apple reintroduced a modified scissor switch keyboard to the 16-inch MacBook Pro in late 2019, and all MacBooks released since then have continued to use scissor switch designs.
The settlement approved today resulted from a lawsuit that received class-action status in March 2021. If you live in one of the seven eligible states and have had a keyboard replaced by Apple, you should automatically be contacted about your payment, but you may find more information at KeyboardSettlement.com when the site goes live.
For users who are currently using a broken butterfly keyboard, Apple’s Keyboard Service Program is still active, although the number of models it covers is slowly decreasing over time. The program “covers eligible MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models for 4 years after the unit’s first retail sale,” which, at this point, would mostly exclude the first wave of butterfly-keyboard Macs introduced between 2015 and 2017.