Apple pays $50 million to settle butterfly keyboard fiasco

Years after Apple’s butterfly keyboards started playing up, the company seems poised to settle down.

Apple’s plan to pay $50 million to settle the class action lawsuit has just received preliminary approval from a federal judge, bringing the case one step closer to conclusion.

It’s been a while. The class action lawsuit over the butterfly keyboard in the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro concerns machines launched between 2015 and 2016. The lawsuit began in 2018 and became a class action lawsuit in 2021, and involves clients from California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington and New York.

Apple initially agreed to the $50 million settlement in July 2022. Now the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has moved the case forward by granting preliminary approval for the settlement. The warrant was signed by Judge Edward J. Davila. As Apple has previously agreed to, it will pay $50 million to settle — but not all of that money will go to class representatives.

According to MacRumors, $17 million will go toward attorney fees ($13.6 million), litigation costs ($2 million), and administrative costs ($1.4 million). The remaining money is divided among the class members. The final amount per member will depend on the number of repairs that had to be carried out. MacRumors states that up to $395 will be paid out to the owners of Macs that had to replace two or more top cases.

There’s no denying that $50 million is a hefty sum to pay for a faulty keyboard, but Apple’s butterfly keyboard certainly had its issues. Thousands of people were dissatisfied with the keyboard, running into problems such as sticky keys and repetitive keys, not to mention that a little bit of dust was enough to make the key fail completely.

Although Apple followed up the complaints with a repair program in June 2018, for four years the program only covered affected Macs and the replacement keyboard was still a butterfly keyboard, meaning many users were quickly back where they started. Repeated keyboard replacements were not covered and many Mac owners were left unhappy, leading to the class action lawsuit.

In the end, Apple tried three different ways to make the butterfly mechanism work, but they all failed. The company completely eliminated the keyboard and began using scissor switch keyboards, which are still in use today.

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