June 25, 2018 // 9:50 a.m.
Apple has finally admitted what many users of its recent MacBook and MacBook Pro products already know: There's a serious issue in the new keyboard switches, and the only solution is their replacement.
For the last three years users have been complaining of issues with the keyboards on Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro family, ever since a 2015 hardware refresh brought new thinner, butterfly-style keyboard switches to the platforms as a means of slightly reducing their overall thickness. While users are split on whether the new keyboard design is an improvement, there is a higher consensus that the keyboards are prone to premature failure.
It's something Apple has spent the last three years denying, telling users whose limited warranties have expired that they will have to pay out-of-pocket to have the faulty keyboards replaced. In the face of growing numbers of complaints, though, Apple has performed its traditional belated volte face and confirmed that there is, indeed, a problem, and that users should, indeed, expect a replacement keyboard free of charge.
'Apple has determined that a small percentage of the keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models may exhibit one or more of the following behaviours: Letters or characters repeat unexpectedly; letters or characters do not appear; key(s) feel "sticky" or do not respond in a consistent manner,' Apple's service page admits. 'Apple or an Apple Authorised Service Provider will service eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards, free of charge. The type of service will be determined after the keyboard is examined and may involve the replacement of one or more keys or the whole keyboard.'
The replacement program comes only after Apple claimed the failures were simply due to dirt getting into the keyboard, and on the back of numerous complaints on Apple's community forum. The company has, however, confirmed that anyone who has been charged to replace the keyboard on an out-of-warranty MacBook or MacBook Pro can contact its support division to discuss a refund.
The service notice covers 12" MacBook models from early 2015 onwards, and 13" and 15" MacBook Pro models from 2016 onwards. Systems are covered for keyboard replacement - a process which involves replacing the entire upper chassis of the system - for a period of four years after the unit was first sold at retail. The company has not, however, indicated that it is replacing the keyboards with units that have a different switch type than its original butterfly design - meaning the problem could very well return, even on systems that have been repaired under the programme.