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Apple Agrees to Settle Butterfly Keyboard Class-Action Suit For $50 Million

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In the fictional museum of Worst Apple Products Ever Made, the Butterfly keyboard ranks somewhere near the top. It’s more reviled than the trash can Mac Pro, and even the one weird mouse you have to flip over to charge. People hated that keyboard, with a burning passion. It got so bad that in 2020 in a Q/A at the Oscars, director Taika Waititi was asked what Hollywood writers needed in the future. “Apple needs to fix those keyboards,” he said. “They are impossible to write on.” Mr. Waititi was one of thousands, if not millions, of angry Apple customers who had purchased a Mac with a butterfly keyboard. This lead to customers needing repairs for their keyboards en masse, which lead to a class-action lawsuit. Apple is now willing to settle this suit, and and it’s offering the claimants the princely sum of $50 million to do so.

The suit alleges Apple knew the keyboard was faulty when it shipped it. The butterfly keyboard was inflicted upon the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air from 2015 to 2019. It was eventually replaced with the Magic Keyboard in late 2019. A judge still has to sign off on the settlement, and naturally it will not require Apple to admit to any wrongdoing. If it’s approved, Apple will dish out some cash to people who had to get their keyboard repaired, but only in certain states. Those include California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington, according to Engadget. Apple has previously announced it would repair affected notebooks for free for a period of four years.

As you can see above, the butterfly mechanism was designed to allow for a thinner keyboard switch. This naturally lead to thinner laptops too. However, the keys had almost no travel at all due to this design. Additionally, it eventually became clear the design was vulnerable to debris getting stuck in the mechanism. Even something as small as specs of dust or a crumb of food could wedge itself inside the switch, rendering the key non-functional. This lead to stuck keys, making it impossible to use. Apple says afflicted users would experience keys not being functional, or repeated accidental keystrokes.

As these things go, claimants shouldn’t expect to be retiring from their payouts. Lawyers told Engadget you can expect up to $395 if you had to get multiple keyboards replaced. If you had only one replacement, expect about $125. If you just had to replace a few key caps, you’ll probably get $50. Naturally the lawyers for the case will get the lion’s share of the payout. They are likely to claim up to $15 million of the settlement, which obviously reduces the cash pool for the class.

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