Apple will settle butterfly keyboard lawsuit for $50 million

Apple has agreed to pay out $50 million to settle a class action lawsuit that said the company knew about flaws with the butterfly keyboard switches it built into several MacBook models (via Reuters).

The keyboards, introduced with the 2015 MacBook, were notoriously unreliable; basically any sort of grime, crumb, or dust could make it so that a key stopped responding altogether or got stuck, resulting in embarrassing typos. Apple tried several fixes for the keyboards, but each new generation failed to fix the core issue, with computers impacted as recently as the 2019 MacBook Pros and Air. (A full list of the affected computers is included on the first page of the settlement, but it’s basically all of Apple’s laptops from 2015 to 2019.)

The judge still has to approve the proposed settlement agreement, but the end could finally be in sight for some of those burned by Apple’s unreliable keyboard design, which the company did away with in 2020.

Under the agreement, people who had to get their butterfly keyboard repaired should be eligible for some sort of payout if the settlement is approved — as long as they live in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, or Michigan. People in other states aren’t included in the class for this settlement.

The settlement breaks payments down into three tiers: People who got at least two top case replacements (fixing issues with the keyboard basically meant taking the entire laptop apart) will get the most money, with people who got one or more keycap replacements will get the least. If you got a single top case replacement, you’ll be somewhere in the middle.

The estimated payouts range from “up to $50” to $395, though the actual amounts will depend on how many people sign up to be part of the settlement. It’s also worth noting that up to 30 percent of the $50 million will be going toward attorneys’ fees, and more will be siphoned off for other costs and expenses.

Those sums won’t be enough to buy yourself a new computer if yours still has the butterfly keyboard, but depending on how many repairs you went through, it could knock off a relatively large chunk. The settlement also makes sure that Apple’s extended service program, which covers your keyboard for four years after you bought the laptop, will remain in effect, so if you’ve got a computer with some broken keys, it may be worth looking into that.

As the agreement notes, Apple has not admitted to any wrongdoing in the butterfly keyboard affair, and the settlement agreement means it likely never will.