Faulty MacBook Butterfly Keyboards Over Four Years Will End Up Costing Apple $50 Million As It Goes To Lawsuit
Apple has reached a settlement after a lawsuit alleging it was aware of flaws with the butterfly keyboard switches built into some MacBook models.
The so-called butterfly keyboard was included in MacBooks between 2015 and 2019, but soon after its introduction, users started complaining about problems with the keyboards.
Problems were caused because dirt or dust could prevent the butterfly mechanism under the keys from working properly. Apple tried a number of solutions, but never solved the core problems, and the iPad maker admitted in 2019 that there was a problem with an update to its keyboard repair program.
Now this week Reuters reported: that Apple agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by customers who claimed to know and conceal that the “butterfly” keyboards on its MacBook laptops were prone to defects.
It reported that the proposed preliminary settlement was filed in federal court in San Jose, California late Monday night, and requires a judge’s approval.
Customers claimed that MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro keyboards suffered from sticky and unresponsive keys, and that small amounts of dust or dirt made typing difficult.
The plaintiffs also claimed that Apple’s service program was inadequate because Apple often supplied replacement keyboards with the same problems.
The settlement concerns customers who purchased MacBook, MacBook Air and most MacBook Pro models in seven US states between 2015 and 2019: California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington.
Reuters reported that Apple denied any wrongdoing by agreeing to a settlement.
It appears that attorneys expect maximum payouts for clients of $395 to people who replaced multiple keyboards, $125 to people who replaced one keyboard, and $50 to people who replaced keycaps.
Customers also continue to be eligible for four years of free keyboard repairs after their purchase.
Previous Hardware Rows
Apple has had issues before with its hardware that required it to offer repairs.
For example, in 2010, Apple was sued over the so-called “death grip” issue with the iPhone 4, which affected the device’s antenna when a user held the phone in a certain way.
If held in a certain way, it would mute reception when the outer antenna edge of the device was touched.
Another issue arose with the so-called battery port issue in December 2017, when it was discovered that Apple had intentionally slowed down older iPhones, which it claimed would help prevent unexpected handset shutdowns.
The problem was discovered when an iPhone user shared performance tests on Reddit that showed that an iPhone 6S had slowed down significantly as it got older.
However, the handset suddenly accelerated again after the battery was replaced, indicating an intentional policy by Apple to slow down older iPhones.
In the ensuing outcry, Apple apologized for the matter and lowered the price for replacement batteries from $79 to $29, but denied allegations that it was a clumsy attempt to force customers to upgrade to new handsets.
In December 2020, Apple faced new lawsuits in Belgium, Spain, Italy and Portugal from advocacy group Euroconsumers over the matter.
In June this year, a consumer rights advocate launched a £750 million lawsuit against Apple in the UK for misleading iPhone users about the delay for older handsets.