Apple confirms major issues with MacBook keyboards

Photo (c) InstCaner - Getty Images

The company is now offering free service to repair the issue on customers’ devices

Apple recently announced issues with keyboards on certain MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops and is now offering customers free service to repair the faulty keys.

According to Apple, the issues included:

  • Letters or keys repeating unexpectedly

  • Letters or characters don’t appear

  • Key(s) feel sticky or do not respond in a consistent manner

Additionally, the affected devices as reported by Apple are:

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2016)

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, 2017)

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)

Consumers with these devices who encounter these issues are encouraged to visit an Apple store or other authorized service center for repairs -- even a full keyboard replacement -- for free. The offer only stands for the models listed above, as the extended warranty lasts for four years after the customer has purchased the device.

New technology still affected

The models affected by these issues were designed with Apple’s new technology called the “butterfly switch” -- a custom key case that the company developed a few years back.

The butterfly keyboard promises a narrower profile and the ability to design thinner laptops around the new input mechanism. The system was made of fewer parts, and because of this, Apple believed there should be fewer chances for issues to arise.

However, the new design proved to have a higher failure rate than previous designs, and prior to the free service offerings, Apple was charging customers upwards of $700 to fix their faulty keyboards. Over the last three years, users have repeatedly reported issues of the butterfly switch keyboard acting “fragile,” misbehaving, or getting stuck on a regular basis.

“It’s unclear how big of a problem butterfly switch keyboards are,” Casey Johnston wrote in an article for Outline entitled “The New MacBook Keyboard is Ruining My Life.”

“Apple forums are overflowing with reports of Geniuses who have told customers that Apple is ‘collecting data’ on the issue... [A] Genius explained to me that he had seen an overwhelming number of the computers with keyboard issues, the spacebar in particular -- while some keys can be very delicately removed, the spacebar breaks every single time anyone, including a professional tries to remove it," Johnston wrote.

Comments on the Outline story echo Johnston’s concerns around the MacBook’s keyboard.

Apple has also reported that customers who have paid for their own repairs in the past can request a refund for any future keyboard repairs.

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