June 25, 2018

Apple Will Finally Fix the Lousy Keyboard on Your MacBook Pro for Free

The computer giant finally admits its once touted "butterfly switch" keyboards have always been faulty.

When Apple first announced the spiffy new line of Macbook Pro computers back in 2016, consumers were enchanted by the complete redesign of a laptop keyboard. A touchscreen bar? So cool! In reality, the futuristic new emoji scroller may have been implemented as no more than a distraction for a problematic issue with the laptop's design: a revolutionary new "butterfly switch" keyboard.

Apple first rolled out the new keyboard design in 2015 in its obsessive effort to make products that are thinner and lighter than those of the past. Prior to the switch, Macbooks employed the traditional "scissor" mechanism below each key. The larger keys have a distinctly different feel and respond to lighter touches thanks to the sensitive new design. The new butterfly switch was advertised as more responsive and comfortable than its predecessor.

Credit: Apple

And while consumers may or may not believe Apple succeeded in its effort, they can certainly agree on one thing, the keyboard is alarmingly sensitive to dust. If even the smallest particle of dust got underneath the keyboard's skin, then certain keys would jam, providing users an excellent opportunity to take out their frustrations with their new $3000 machines by slamming their eager fingers down repeatedly upon their non-responsive space bars. Clearly, I'm speaking out of experience here.

By the time many users were on to this, the keyboard programs were out of warranty, and a repair would set you back $700. This was largely due in part to more brilliance on the Apple design team, who decided it would be a good idea to glue the keyboard, upper panel and battery all together which makes repair extremely technical. Essentially, in order to replace even a single key on the keyboard, one would also have to replace the upper panel and several attached components, including the battery, as well.

Yet, Apple continued to insist there had been no mistake on its part. Instead, the company provided a "simple" step by step solution to clean your keyboard with compressed air.

Credit: Apple

Good luck if you can't measure a perfect 75-degree angle! Somehow this method didn't seem to work for the majority of MacBook users out there, who were forced to take in their laptop for repair anyways.

Then, in April 2018, an AppleInsider investigation found that MacBook Pro keyboard failures were happening roughly twice as often as they were in older models.  Within a week of the report's publication, a Change.org petition called on Apple to recall all MacBooks with butterfly switch keyboards. The petition earned more than 27,000 signatures in just three weeks. Internet skeptics have estimated that up to 20 percent of MacBook users may have been impacted, which in turn led to hundreds of thousands—or potentially millions—of dollars in service costs and damages awarded to Apple. 

Not surprisingly, this led to a series of class action lawsuits in May alleging that the butterfly mechanism introduced with the 2015 MacBook, and later applied to the MacBook Pro line in 2016, is prone to failure. Thanks to those plaintiffs, the lawsuits seem to have done the trick. 

Over the weekend, Apple announced a service plan that will replace "a small percentage of the keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models" whose letters or characters repeat unexpectedly, letters or characters don't appear or whose keys feel "sticky" or don't respond consistently. Of course, "Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will examine the customer's device to verify eligibility and then perform the service free of charge," the company said.

The models included in the service plan are all those that feature both the first and second generations of the butterfly switch keyboard, including models with and without the Touch Bar. For those keeping score, that's:

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12­-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13­-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, 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)

Apple has also graciously offered customers who've already paid for a repair related to the service program a refund for the service cost, provided they can get in contact with the company. For full details on Keyboard Service Program for MacBook and MacBook Pro, visit the support page here and may your editing forever remain undisrupted by sticky, failing keys.     

Your Comment

8 Comments

Yikes... what's happening to this company?

June 25, 2018 at 4:43PM

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Michael Schmucker
Producer, Cinematographer, Animator
138

For one they are about to become the first trillion dollar company! ...(I know that wasn't what you were looking for!)

June 27, 2018 at 7:14PM

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"Fix" meaning "replace with the same faulty design" which is hardly a fix.

June 25, 2018 at 6:52PM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
724

I wonder if they can fix my incredibly slack USB-C ports at the same time :-D

June 26, 2018 at 11:21AM

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Alex Kalimát
Photographer ~ Filmmaker
98

What do you mean by slack?

June 26, 2018 at 2:01PM

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No kidding! I'm not sure if it's just a pitfall of the USB-C port itself or if it's specifically Apple's USB-C ports, but the ones on my 2017 MacBook Pro are horribly designed. If I even slightly breathe on a cable, my hard drive disconnects. And the ports on the left side of my machine are looser than the ones on the right. Coupled with the keyboard issues, the stupid touch bar with the improperly positioned escape key (which manages to close windows and ruin projects if I even lightly brush my pinky over it) I've not been very pleased with this incredibly expensive laptop. I kind of want to punch Phil Schiller and Jony Ive.

June 26, 2018 at 3:05PM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
724

Can someone explain to me Apples' obsession with thinness at the cost of usability? Why do they need to be so thin?
We've lost so much over the years, connectivity, storage, functionality etc., with this fetish that it almost feels like they're doing it out of spite.

June 26, 2018 at 11:44AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1501

My sentiments precisely Richard Krall. Apple has completely lost the plot.

Over the past seven years they have removed all the connectivity and versatility of their laptops in this ridiculous obsession with thin. To add insult to it all there are now built in fkng EMOJIS. I detest, detest, detest Apple's direction with both hardware and their OS which becomes more kindergarten with every iteration, and their stupid six month update cycle that obseletes not only your computers but all your ancillary gear and software at a ludicrous rate.

I started rebelling six years ago and I keep two 2011 iMacs running, with SSD and HD installed, and a 2010 17" special order MBP. So easy to open and service, modify, upgrade or repair ALL of them. I have Firewire, USB, Ethernet, Thunderbolt, CD/DVD drive, SD slot and an Express 34 bay that gives me eSATA and USB3.

No need to lug around docking bays, adapters, external DVD drives.

June 28, 2018 at 4:02PM, Edited June 28, 4:05PM

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Graham HAY
Managing Director, Helicam International Ltd.
68