Additional Details About Apple's New MacBook and MacBook Pro Keyboard Service Program

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Following a few years of anecdotal complaints, and no less than three lawsuits, Apple on Friday initiated a new worldwide service program offering free repairs of MacBook and MacBook models equipped with low-profile, butterfly mechanism keyboards, which have been a source of frustration for some customers.


We've already reported about the service program in more detail, but the gist is that Apple and Apple Authorized Service Providers are now offering free repairs of affected 2015-and-later MacBook and 2016-and-later MacBook Pro models with sticky, unresponsive, or inconsistently functioning keys.

Many questions have arisen since the program was announced, so we wanted to consolidate some additional information that we have gathered from Apple and other sources we have spoken with:
  • Apple distributed an internal document on Friday with more information about the service program. It notes that keyboards damaged due to attempted repair are still eligible for free service under the program. If your MacBook or MacBook Pro has physical top case damage unrelated to the keyboard, it also remains eligible.
    As to be expected, if your MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboard has liquid damage, it is ineligible for the program.
    If a key press is not recognized, key presses feel abnormal or sticky, or keys are loose or missing, Apple has instructed its authorized service providers to clean or replace the affected keycaps if possible.
    Keycap replacement kits are available for English keyboards in ANSI and ISO layouts, along with British, French, German, Danish, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Chinese, and Japanese keyboards.
    If characters are repeating, or previous keycap replacements were ineffective, Apple has instructed its authorized service providers to replace the whole keyboard, which requires replacing the whole top case, including the trackpad and speaker grilles.
    Be prepared to go a week-plus without your MacBook. Apple quotes a turnaround time of five to seven business days for service to be completed at Apple's off-site repair centers, but wait times may increase as an influx of customers take advantage of the program.
    In some cases, the Apple Store may be able to offer on-site service, but expect to wait for at least a few hours.
    If your MacBook or MacBook Pro experiences keyboard issues after being serviced under the program, Apple says customers can bring their unit back in to be looked at again. This suggests, but doesn't explicitly state, that the program may be used more than once.
    Apple is offering refunds to customers who paid to have an eligible keyboard repaired prior to this program, but a Genius has advised us that refunds are not available in person at an Apple Store, and must be requested by contacting Apple Support by phone, online chat, or email.
    It's still not entirely clear if the replacement keyboards have been slightly revised to address the issues that prompted the service program in the first place. Apple has been fairly communicative with me about this program, but has so far skipped right over this question when asked.
    We do know that Apple has been replacing 2016 MacBook Pro keyboards with the 2017 version, which has slightly different markings on the Control and Option keys, but a Genius we spoke with believes the 2016 and 2017 keyboards are functionally equivalent.
    iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens also told me he believes the keyboard design hasn't changed at all in a few years.
    However, anecdotal reports from customers suggest the 2017 MacBook Pro keyboard "has a different feel to it," with some calling it "better" and less prone to issues. Marco Arment, for example, said it is "more 'damped' in both feel and sound, as if there's more rubber somewhere."
We'll share any further information as we come across it. In the meantime, if you are experiencing keyboard issues, read our article on How to Get a MacBook or MacBook Pro Keyboard Repaired Free Under Apple's Service Program.

Remember to back up your Mac before sending it in for service.

Article Link: Additional Details About Apple's New MacBook and MacBook Pro Keyboard Service Program
 
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Appleaker

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Jun 13, 2016
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I don’t know why the iFixit CEO, whose teadown showed a difference between 2016 and 2017 keyboard, is claiming that there is no difference at all. The mechanism hasn’t changed but it is tweaked.

Many people that have tried it notice the difference, myself included, despite the claims by people on this forum claiming otherwise simply from the fact that Apple didn’t mention it, and without having tested it themselves.
 
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Corrode

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Dec 26, 2008
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The 2017 top-case replacement I got for my 2016 has a better feel to it; almost like it’s more solid or something. No word on reliability since the repair is only a couple months old but time will tell.
 

JungleNYC

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Apr 11, 2014
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I may have to take advantage of this. Unlike others I do love the keyboard…but hate hate hate how much it sticks. And i'm not a crumby person! I don't usually eat/drink around my laptop. Or…do anything else "sticky" for that matter, lol.
 

duorou

macrumors newbie
Jun 25, 2018
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China
Had my 2016 15-inch MBP serviced ONSITE with 3-hour turnaround yesterday

Top Case with Battery, ANSI, Space Gray replaced.

Today encountered Trackpad freezing, scheduled another Genius appointment and planned to use the service again.

Good luck to myself this time.
 
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macduke

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Jun 27, 2007
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Glad I've avoided this mess entirely. The MacBook Pros lately seem gimmicky and prone to issues. Hardware advancements from Intel have stagnated as well. I hope to see some meaningful updates in the next year as Apple begins working more closely with in-house professionals and perhaps takes on a bigger role in hardware development.
 

shoorty0690

macrumors member
Jul 5, 2009
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I just had my MBP 15" 2016 repaired for this issue. Keys were sticking when the computer ran warm. Also had to have my screen replaced because the keys scratched the screen. We'll see if these repairs fix either issue.

I will say, the keys on the replaced keyboard do feel "dampened." Theyre not as clicky and marginally smoother to use. HOWEVER, I am having issues that I cant narrow down if it's Excel or my keyboard because my numbers aren't always being input. There seems to be either lag in Excel, or my keyboard is acting up...
 

bluecoast

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Nov 7, 2017
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This is probably going to completely wipe out any profit that Apple makes on each affected unit and push it into a significant loss (per affected unit).

It has to have been a serious design flaw for them to have gone this far (and the slew of class action suits probably didn’t help either...)
 

Joe Rossignol

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May 12, 2012
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I don’t know why the iFixit CEO, whose teadown showed a difference between 2016 and 2017 keyboard, is claiming that there is no difference at all. The mechanism hasn’t changed but it is tweaked.
Many people that have tried it notice the difference, myself included, despite the claims by people on this forum claiming otherwise simply from the fact that Apple didn’t mention it, and without having tested it themselves.
Do you have a link to the teardown where it says this?
 

Naimfan

Suspended
Jan 15, 2003
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Long past time.

Of course, the correct answer is to use a keyboard that doesn't have these problems in the first place . . . like the MBA and 2015 MBP keyboards.
 

recoil80

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Jul 16, 2014
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A week without the MBP is too much if that's your daily driver.
I'd rather have a refurbished unit instead. I always make a backup of a device before taking it to the AS, so the best scenario to me would be make a backup, wipe up my damaged MBP, get a refurbished Mac at the AS and restore my backup.
 

avanpelt

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Jun 2, 2010
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At least this seems to indicate that there will be yet another change to the keyboards on the next generation of Mac laptops. Three different types of key mechanisms in as many generations of Mac laptops. To me, this whole butterfly keyboard fiasco is a poster child for Apple "fixing" something that wasn't broken to begin with. As an owner of a mid-2014 MacBook Pro, I love that keyboard; and the keyboard redesign on the new models is yet another reason for me not to consider buying a new MacBook Pro. I hope the one I have continues to serve me well for several more years.
 
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surf2snow1

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Lone Deranger

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Be prepared to go a week-plus without your MacBook. Apple quotes a turnaround time of five to seven business days for service to be completed at Apple's off-site repair centers, but wait times may increase as an influx of customers take advantage of the program.
And this is why the MacBook Pro/Apple service is not Pro level anymore. 5-7 days without a business machine just to fix a sodding repeating keypress?? Just how does Apple expect that works in a professional environment? Great if you're a huge company with spares lying around. Not so great if you're a freelancer or small boutique.

If not being able to provide on-the-day repair (for something as silly as failure from dead skin cells) is what Apple considers an acceptable compromise for a mere 1mm height saving, then they have utterly lost the plot.
 
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Feenician

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Jun 13, 2016
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Do you have a link to the teardown where it says this?
They might be recalling that the 2017 MacBook appeared to get the MBP keyboard design

https://ifixit.org/blog/9185/2017-apple-laptop/

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Retina+MacBook+2017+Teardown/92172

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Touch+Bar+2017+Teardown/92171


Seems a little ambiguous on whether the 2017 keyboard changed or not, but in the light of the comment from iFixit it would seem not. I, personally, would not consider replacing my 2015 mbp until this keyboard is clearly and unambiguously replaced/fixed but reasonable people may differ. Anecdotally people do seem to have less failure on the 2017s.
 

Janichsan

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Oct 23, 2006
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I don’t know why the iFixit CEO, whose teadown showed a difference between 2016 and 2017 keyboard, is claiming that there is no difference at all. The mechanism hasn’t changed but it is tweaked.
I think you misunderstood something here: iFixit found a difference in the keyboards between the 2016 and 2017 models of the MacBook. The 2016 MacBook still had the original, first generation butterfly mechanism. All MacBooks and MacBook Pros that came after that – and that includes the first butterfly keyboard MBPs released in 2016 – had the second generation butterfly mechanism. iFixit's teardown of the 2017 13" MBP found no differences in the keyboard mechanism to the previous model.
 

Feenician

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Jun 13, 2016
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https://ifixit.org/blog/9185/2017-apple-laptop/

The only real change, beyond fan coloration, seems to address the lackluster keyboard action from last year’s MacBook. Users now inherit the more-responsive, second-gen butterfly key switches already found in last year’s MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Here’s another:
https://9to5mac.com/2017/06/08/fixit-2017-macbook-and-macbook-pro-teardown/
You beat me to it, but the quote you put clearly says the MB got the MBP keyboard, which was already found lacking.
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
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I'm a rolling stone.
At least this seems to indicate that there will be yet another change to the keyboards on the next generation of Mac laptops. Three different types of key mechanisms in as many generations of Mac laptops. To me, this whole butterfly keyboard fiasco is a poster child for Apple "fixing" something that wasn't broken to begin with. As an owner of a mid-2014 MacBook Pro, I love that keyboard; and the keyboard redesign on the new models is yet another reason for me not to consider buying a new MacBook Pro. I hope the one I have continues to serve me well for several more years.
They didn't fix the keyboard, it got thinner so a redesign had to be made.

That doesn't mean I agree or disagree with the new keyboards, I have a 2012 MBP and have no such issues, I tried the new ones but didn't think of it to test it, if you don't know you don't really feel the difference if you just test it for a couple of minutes.
 
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