Technology

Apple Faces Lawsuit Over Issues With MacBook Butterfly Keyboards

Apple MacBook butterfly keyboards
Life-Of-Pix / Pixabay

Apple is again being taken to court, and this time due to the faulty MacBook butterfly keyboards. The lawsuit, which was first spotted by AppleInsider, claims that the company has been making flawed keyboards since 2015.

Specifically, the MacBook keyboards in question are the ones with a polarized butterfly design which supports Apple’s MacBook and the 2016 MacBook Pro models. The MacBook butterfly keyboards were first introduced with the 2015 12-inch MacBook. At the time, the company boasted that the new keyboard was much better than others.

Apple marketed the MacBook butterfly keyboards as being more responsive and comfortable than the earlier ones. At the time, even Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, said that the butterfly keyboard was “four times more stable than that scissor mechanism,” which are common in laptop keyboards.

However, the lawsuit claims that MacBook butterfly keyboards were a cause of inconvenience for “thousands” of users. Also, it mentions that even a “minimal amount of dust and debris” is enough to cause the keyboard to malfunction, rendering one of the core MacBook functions useless.

“The MacBook suffers from a latent defect,” the complaint reads. “Though it appears to function normally when new, the MacBook has a defective keyboard.”

The lawsuit says that Apple has clearly failed to communicate about the issue with the keyboard, and that this information “would have been important to Plaintiffs’ decision to purchase a MacBook” and that even after a repair, the problem reoccurs. Further, it says a keyboard’s primary use is for typing, but after the keys become stuck, it becomes unsuitable for “its ordinary and intended use.”

As per the lawsuit, filed at the Northern District Court of California, the company was aware of the flaw before or at the time of the keyboard’s launch, but still, it took no action. The lawsuit wants Apple to publicly acknowledge the flaw, and seeks damages and reimbursements from the iPhone maker. The complaint is seeking $5 million in damages under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and also the recognition as a class-action lawsuit.

The class-action lawsuit follows numerous complaints across user forums and a petition backed by over 21,000 users asking Apple to recall the Mac laptops with defective keyboards. Even an investigation by AppleInsider found that the MacBook butterfly keyboards fail “twice as often” compared to previous models.

Matthew Taylor, who initiated the petition, says that MacBook butterfly keyboards “don’t work,” but still, the current-gen MacBook Pro models come with a keyboard that can stop working at any moment due to their faulty design. “The problems are widespread, consistent, and infuriating,” Taylor says.

According to Girard Gibbs, counsel for the plaintiffs, the design of the keyboard is such that the whole keyboard has to be replaced to fix the affected keys, and this costs about $700. “Because typing is the primary purpose of laptops, over time, consumers have become more and more frustrated with the keyboard defect,” Gibbs said.

Also, clearing the dust and debris is a difficult task. Though Apple has provided a guide on how to clean a MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboard with compressed air, it does not address the issue.

The lawsuit was initiated by two Apple customers, Kyle Barbaro, of Melrose, MA and Zixuan Rao, of San Diego, CA. Rao purchased a MacBook Pro in January 2018, and only a month later the “B” key stopped working. He tried to address the issue by following Apple’s guide, but eventually ended up buying an external keyboard for his gadget.

Barbaro, on the other hand, bought the MacBook Pro in November 2016. Less than a year later, its space key and caps lock became unresponsive. Though he got it repaired, the problem re-appeared a few months later. However, the device was out of warranty by then.

Such lawsuits are nothing new for Apple. Currently, the company is facing several lawsuits related to the undisclosed iPhone battery throttling. And, the last time the company settled a warranty-related case was a $53 million payment after Apple failed to uphold warranties for the iPhone and iPod owing to its Liquid Damage Policy.

As of now, there have been no comments from Apple over the complaint. However, the company is possibly working on a keyboard that addresses such issues. A couple of months back, a new patent filing was spotted from Apple of a crumb-resistant MacBook keyboard.