Apple Reaches Settlement Over MacBook 'Butterfly' Keyboards to Pay $50 Million

The keyboards, which promised thinner profile designs when introduced in 2015, had multiple defects leading to repair recalls and poor reviews from critics.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
Close-up of a person pressing the Enter/Return key on a MacBook

Reviewers typically praise Apple's computer designs, but not this one.

James Martin/CNET

Apple has agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class action lawsuit from customers who claimed the keyboards in the company's MacBook laptops made between 2015 and 2019 had a design defect. 

The settlement, filed late Monday in a California court, contends that Apple knew about the defect in its "butterfly" keyboards and that it "fraudulently concealed" the issue from customers. Apple denied wrongdoing.

"The proposed settlement to resolve this case is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing of any kind by Apple," the proposed settlement states. Reuters earlier reported the news. Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

The proposed agreement marks a final chapter for one of Apple's most criticized products. When the company introduced its butterfly keyboards in 2015, it positioned the technology as an improvement on decades-old designs.

"It had some things it did really well, like creating a much more stable key platform. It felt more firm and flat under your finger --  some people really like that, but other people weren't really happy with that. We got sort of a mixed reaction. We had some quality issues we had to work on," Schiller said in an interview with CNET's Roger Cheng in 2019. "People sometimes underestimate how much work goes into a keyboard, and that's why most keyboards in the industry don't change for 10 or 20 years."

Apple ultimately switched away from butterfly keyboards in 2019, a move CNET reviewer Dan Ackerman said was "for the best."

Still, the company faced lawsuits over the technology, which it now appears on the verge of settling. As part of its agreement, Apple would pay $50 million, with lawyers for the customers saying people who replaced multiple keyboards will get maximum payouts of $395, while people who replaced one keyboard may get up to $125 and people who replaced key caps may get up to $50.