Apple Class Action Settlement Awards Some MacBook Owners A Sweet Payday For These Models

Apple has a reputation for refined hardware, but it surely missed the mark with the butterfly keyboard. Initially offered in 2015, Apple's ultra-slim keyboard design proved to be an ongoing headache for buyers who needed frequent repairs just to type on their Apple laptops. A class action is winding its way through the courts, and a settlement offer has gotten initial approval by the court. Those with the worst keyboard defects could get as much as $395 in compensation.

Most laptop keyboards use a mechanism under each key with a pair of scissor-like overlapping hinges. Apple's butterfly mechanism has a hinge in the center, allowing for the keys to be flatter without sacrificing tactility. Apple used the butterfly keyboard to make its 2015 MacBook refresh even thinner than before, but the butterfly keyboard didn't age well. After just a few months of consumers carrying these devices around, it was clear something was wrong.

Because the butterfly keys have so little travel, any particulate that manages to work its way inside can cause the key to stick or stop registering. Thanks to Apple's monolithic design, repairs for this issue involved replacing the entire top case of the computer, which could cost several hundred dollars. Thankfully, Apple launched a Keyboard Service Program that will replace defective butterfly keyboards for free. You can see Apple's initial butterfly announcement at the 16-minute mark in the video below. 

The class action settlement currently heading toward final approval clocks in at $50 million total, and most of that will go to class members as cash compensation. Not everyone will get the same payout, though. There are three different groups in the class, with Group 1 consisting of people who had at least two keyboard replacements. These people will get at least $300, and that could go up to $395 if there are funds left over. Group 2 is anyone who got one butterfly keyboard replacement, and they're entitled to as much as $125 under the proposed settlement. Group 3 is for anyone who had keycaps replaced by Apple, with a maximum payout of $50.

Apple stopped using the butterfly keyboard design in 2019, moving on to the Magic Keyboard, which doesn't have the same propensity for failure. If you bought a new MacBook between 2015 and 2019 with a butterfly keyboard, you can check the settlement website for details on how and when you'll get your money. Group 1 members will get paid automatically, but those in groups 2 and 3 have to file a claim.