Apple settles lawsuit over its reviled ‘butterfly’ keyboard for $50 million

Apple could soon compensate MacBook owners for their problems with faulty “Butterfly” keyboards. Reuters Apple has reportedly agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging unreliable keyboard designs on MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models manufactured between 2015 and 2019 were published, and have concealed them. If a judge approves the tentative deal, Apple will pay customers who need repairs in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington.

The company does not have to admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. It must continue to offer free keyboard repairs for four years after purchase.

Apple introduced the butterfly keyboard in 2015 with the 12-inch MacBook. It was intended to enable ever thinner laptops without sacrificing stability, but the design quickly gained a reputation for being extremely sensitive to dirt. Keys got stuck or stopped responding if even the tiniest speck of dust or crumbs slipped underneath. The company took steps to mitigate the issue (e.g. membranes) and eventually began going back to more conventional keyboards starting in late 2019 with the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple acknowledged that some had problems and launched repair programs, but maintained that the majority of customers had no problems.

As with many class action lawsuits, if you are involved, do not expect to get lucky. The attorneys said they expected a payout of $395 if you had to replace multiple keyboards, $125 for a full replacement, and $50 if you replaced only keycaps. Lawyers can also seek up to $15 million of the $50 million settlement in legal fees, which could limit the money available to MacBook owners. While the payouts aren’t strictly necessary if Apple has previously offered refunds for repairs, they’re more symbolic than practical.

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