June 25, 2018
Apple will replace faulty keyboards on MacBooks and MacBook Pros launched since 2015 for free. The offer from Apple follows customer complaints about MacBook keyboard problems in recent years.
Apple confirmed the offer of a free keyboard replacement via a support page on the company’s website..
Apple changed the mechanism it uses for its MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards in 2015, and the new design has proved to be temperamental – even landing Apple in some legal hot water over its failure to improve the resilience of its keyboards.
We explain which models qualify for the free repair, plus how to get your MacBook keyboard repaired for free if it’s broken.
What is the MacBook Keyboard Problem?
The keyboard issue originated back in 2015. Apple debuted an updated suite of MacBooks with a new key mechanism – basically the bit underneath the keys which depresses when you strike them, and makes them pop back up when you take your fingers off.
This was known as the butterfly mechanism. It allowed the keys to protrude less from the base of the laptop, leading to a thinner design, without sacrificing typing comfort or responsiveness.
However, with the keys sitting almost flush with the base of the laptop, users complained that they were magnets for dust that was almost impossible to clean out, given that you cannot remove the back of any MacBooks.
Moreover, the butterfly mechanism has been criticised for simply being too flimsy. This leads to the keys often sticking, and failing to register keystrokes. Not great for $1,300+ laptops.
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Back in May, a class action lawsuit was filed, that claimed Apple failed to adequately address the keyboard defects, and sold the MacBook and MacBook Pro models to consumers despite knowing that they were defective.
The update to Apple’s support pages shows that the company is at least acknowledging the issue, rather than simply ignoring it. But, it seems highly unlikely that Apple will apologise for the defect, let alone issue a full recall or revert to a more traditional keyboard design in future MacBook iterations.
Which Apple MacBooks Qualify for a Free Repair?
In total, nine MacBook models qualify for the free repair:
- 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)
These models all feature the butterfly mechanism keyboard. So any MacBooks purchased before 2015 or MacBook Pros before 2016 aren’t going to qualify. Likewise, you’ll still have to stump up the cash for a MacBook Air with a broken keyboard.
How to get your MacBook keyboard repaired for free
If you’re keen to get your keyboard fixed, there are three ways you can do this:
- Head to an authorised service provider
- Make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store and visit the Genius Bar
- Post your laptop to the Apple Repair Center
It’s recommended, naturally, that you should backup your MacBook’s data before taking it for the keyboard service. And, Apple is keen to point out that the service turnaround time is dependent on the availability of replacement parts and whether its Genii will have to replace one key, multiple keys or, indeed, the entire keyboard.
The free repair only extends to four years since each MacBook’s first retail sale and it won’t extend the standard warranty coverage. If you’ve already paid to have your MacBook keyboard fixed, you can get in touch with Apple for a refund of the cost of the repair.
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