Sticky Keys? All MacBook Butterfly Keyboards Are Now Eligible for Free Repairs

Macbook Pro Credit: Business Insider
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Apple knows that its butterfly keyboards have a problem. This week, the company is taking a large step toward addressing those problems for impacted users by expanding its repair programs. Here’s what you should know.

Expanded Keyboard Repair Program

Starting today, all Mac laptops with a butterfly keyboard mechanism are eligible for free repairs — including the 2018 MacBook Pro, the 2018 MacBook Air, and even the recently announced 2019 MacBook Pro models.

That means that any malfunctioning butterfly keyboard can be repaired for free at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider, regardless of warranty status.

Over the past few years, there has been an increasing number of user reports indicating various issues with the butterfly keyboard. That includes double key presses, missed key presses or general keyboard “stickiness.” With the sheer number of reports, the issue is undoubtedly widespread enough to be concerning. Apple previously recommended condensed air to help remedy the issue, however that method didn’t solve the problem entirely.

Notably, the new 2019 MacBook Pro features an updated butterfly mechanism with “new materials” that Apple says will substantially reduce keyboard problems. It’s still considered a third-generation butterfly keyboard, just better.

More than that, The Verge notes that Apple may begin replacing swapping 2018 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air keyboards with ones that have the new materials. On the other hand, only current third-generation butterfly keyboards are eligible for a swap to the newly updated mechanism.

Apple did not expand on what the “new materials” are or how they’ll reduce keyboard problems. And, of course, it remains to be seen whether the updated butterfly mechanisms will actually reduce those issues.

The move follows a public apology and acknowledgment that keyboard issues are still plaguing MacBook users — even those with devices that have the third-generation keyboards. Apple has also taken steps to significantly speed up repair times for impacted users.

The keyboard service program covers Mac notebooks for up to four years after the original purchase date.

‘Flexgate’ Repair Program

On a similar note, Apple has also launched a repair program for backlight issues on some 13-inch MacBook Pro models.

If you aren’t familiar, these backlight issues appear to be symptoms of the so-called “Flexgate” problem. Based on teardown reports and speculation, it’s a display problem caused by cables that are too short and wear out over time when a MacBook’s lid is open and closed.

There are only two MacBook Pro models covered under the Backlight Service Program.

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro, 2016, Four Thunderbolt Ports
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro, 2016, Two Thunderbolt Ports

It isn’t clear whether those are the only computers impacted by the display cable issue. But a teardown report suggests that Apple may have resolved the underlying problem with a longer display cable in the 2018 MacBook Pro models (and presumably the new 2019 devices).

Like with the keyboard repair program, the Backlight Service Program covers MacBook Pro devices up to four years after the original purchase date.

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