Apple’s $50 million butterfly keyboard settlement is finally approved

People who owned MacBooks with butterfly keyboards will now get paid. | Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The $50 million settlement over Apple’s bad butterfly keyboard design got final approval by a federal court judge in California, Reuters reported yesterday.

US District Court Judge Edward Davila denied an attempt to amend the agreement, writing in his ruling that 86,000 people filed claims. That finally puts a figure on the number of people affected who will get compensation for repairs they’d paid for. Or at least the number who heard about the lawsuit and followed it to the settlement agreement that was reached last July.

The original suit came about because Apple laptops from 2015 to 2019 had a new keyboard design that just didn’t hold up under normal use; crumbs and dirt, or even just accumulated dust, could cause keys to fail or stick. Casey Johnston famously wrote in The Outline that “The new MacBook keyboard is ruining my life.”

Despite Apple’s repeated attempts to iterate on the keyboard, the problem didn’t go away until it released the 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro in 2019, which took things back to the “scissor switch” design that also ships in the Magic Keyboard for Apple desktops. The design was fully phased out of its products a few months later when Apple released a redesigned 13-inch MacBook Pro. Apple’s settlement doesn’t include an admission of wrongdoing but will pay some people back up to $395 to cover their repair costs.

This final wrinkle in the saga involved six objectors who offered arguments saying the settlement wasn’t fair to MacBook owners who’d never repaired their failed keyboards (and therefore don’t get any cash) or that the $125 offered to those who’d only had to pay for one replacement wasn’t enough to cover the cost of repairs. But Davila denied their objections, saying that just wanting more money isn’t enough to deny the settlement’s approval.

In short, anyone who filed a verifiable claim for keyboard money by the March deadline will be getting their money soon.

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