Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Apple’s Butterfly Keyboard Repair Program for MacBooks is Nearly Over


Apple’s long-running butterfly keyboard service program for MacBooks is ending soon, with only a few models still eligible for a free repair.

Below, we take a look back at Apple’s butterfly keyboard problems that led to the program.

The Butterfly Keyboard

For much of the 2000s, MacBook keyboards had a traditional scissor switch mechanism. That changed in March 2015, when Apple released an ultra-thin 12-inch MacBook with a low-profile keyboard that used a new butterfly switch mechanism. While the keyboard fit in the 12-inch MacBook’s thin enclosure, it is prone to issues, such as letters repeating unexpectedly or failing to appear when keys are pressed.

  • Related: Apple’s Butterfly Keyboards vs. Scissor Switch Keyboards

It was not until Apple updated the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models with its second-generation butterfly keyboard in October 2016 that customers began to complain about sticky and unresponsive keys in earnest. Apple expanded the butterfly keyboard to the MacBook Air a few years later, leading to even more complaints.

The situation came to a head in May 2018, when Apple was hit with a class action lawsuit in the U.S. alleging that the company knew the butterfly keyboard was defective. An online petition about the issues that year gained nearly 43,000 signatures.

The Program

In June 2018, Apple launched a “Keyboard Service Program” worldwide after it determined that a “small percentage” of keyboards in certain MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
  • Letters or characters do not appear
  • Key(s) feel “sticky” or do not respond in a consistent manner

Apple and Apple Authorized Service Providers have been repairing eligible MacBook keyboards, free of charge, for up to four years after the first retail sale of the affected laptop. That window is nearly over, as all eligible models except the two 2019 versions of the 13-inch MacBook Pro were discontinued more than four years ago.

The butterfly switch mechanism for a 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard
The list of all models that were eligible:

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12­-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018)
  • MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2019)
  • MacBook Pro (13­-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2018)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2019)

Apple discontinued the 2019 model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro in November 2020, so some customers who own that laptop may still be eligible for a free keyboard repair until as late as November 2024, depending on when they purchased it. After that, the service program will be completely over, unless it is extended by Apple.

The Apology

In March 2019, Apple finally apologized about the keyboards.

“We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry,” an Apple spokesperson said, in a statement shared with The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern. “The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.”

The Fix

Starting with the 16-inch MacBook Pro in November 2019, Apple ditched the butterfly keyboard and returned to using a scissor switch mechanism. The change was extended to the MacBook Air in March 2020, and to the 13-inch MacBook Pro in May 2020, marking the end of the problematic butterfly keyboard era for the Mac.

The Settlement

In July 2022, Apple agreed to pay $50 million to settle the U.S. class action lawsuit related to the butterfly keyboard issues. Affected customers who submitted a valid claim by the March 2023 deadline will receive a payment of between $50 and $395.Tag: Butterfly Keyboard Issues
This article, “Apple’s Butterfly Keyboard Repair Program for MacBooks is Nearly Over” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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