Apple agrees to pay $50 million to settle issues related to its ‘butterfly’ keyboards

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By Catherine Thorbecke | CNN Business

Apple has agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class action lawsuit from customers who say they experienced failures related to the so-called “butterfly” keyboards included for years on certain MacBook laptops.

The proposed settlement, which still requires a judge’s approval, was indicated in court documents filed Monday in San Jose, California.

The much criticized keyboards were initially intended to help slim down laptops and included on MacBooks released from 2015 to 2019. Unlike most laptop keyboards that use a “scissor mechanism” — two interlocking switches that click together when the key is pressed — Apple’s butterfly method has mirrored switches that expand like wings.

But this design element ended up making the keyboards prone to trapping dust and debris. Customers have long complained about the apparent faultiness of the keyboards and its sticky or easily-broken keys. An intentionally typo-ridden Wall Street Journal column in 2019 famously slammed the keyboards’ flaws, and an influential tech blogger called the keyboards the “worst products in Apple history” that same year.

Under the proposed settlement, customers who had to replace multiple keyboards can expect payouts up to $395 and those who had a single keyboard replaced can expect around $125, according to the filing. Customers who had obtained key cap replacements can expect a $50 payout.

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Apple did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment Tuesday. As part of the settlement agreement, Apple denied any wrongdoing and denied that any MacBooks are defective.

Over the years, Apple has proposed various fixes and redesigns for the “butterfly” keyboard. In 2019, Apple reverted back to the more traditional scissor-style keyboard.

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