Faulty MacBook Butterfly Keyboards Cost Apple $50 Million in Lawsuit Settlement

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 4:40 PM

Apple will pay $50 million to settle a 2018 class-action lawsuit over the faulty butterfly keyboards that were used in MacBook machines between 2015 and 2019, reports Reuters. Customers in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington claimed that Apple knew about the faulty butterfly mechanism and concealed it while continuing to sell computers with the keyboard.

MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook models adopted the butterfly keyboard across 2015 and 2016, with Apple touting the thinness of the keyboard and the superior key feel and stability. Not too long after the keyboards started launching, customers learned that they were prone to failure.

Thousands of customers ran into issues with keys repeating, sticking, and otherwise failing when dust and other particulates got into the butterfly mechanism, resulting in a huge controversy over the butterfly technology.

Apple ultimately launched a keyboard repair program in June 2018, but it only covered MacBook, MacBook Pro, and ‌MacBook Air‌ models for four years, and Apple would only replace butterfly keyboards with another butterfly keyboard, so some customers have run into repeat failures that are no longer covered. The lawsuit alleged that Apple's repair program was not sufficient.

Apple tried to iterate on the butterfly mechanism to make it more durable and there were three generations of the butterfly keyboard, but all of them experienced issues. Apple ultimately started replacing butterfly keyboards with scissor switch keyboards, and phased out the last butterfly keyboard in 2020, and now all Mac models that are available use the more reliable scissor switch mechanism that predates the butterfly keys.

The lawsuit covers only customers in the above-mentioned states, and lawyers are expecting maximum payouts of $395 to customers who replaced multiple keyboards, $125 to people who replaced one keyboard, and $50 to people who replaced key caps. The settlement is preliminary and will need to be approved by the judge overseeing the case.