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Important MacBook Updates: MacBook Pro recall and MacBook/Air/Pro keyboard fix

From Apple® and CranstonIT come a couple of important updates for users of the MacBook® line of notebook computers.

First, Apple has issued a voluntary recall for certain 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro® models.  This is the version with multiple ports that predates the current Thunderbolt 3 models.  The recall addresses batteries that could potentially explode and ignite a fire.  

The affected MacBook Pro models were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017. To find out if your 15-inch MacBook Pro is affected, visit Apple’s recall page (apple.com/support/15-inch-macbook-pro-battery-recall) and enter the serial number of your unit.  If your MacBook Pro is included in the recall, shut it down and stop using it immediately. Apple will provide instructions for replacing your battery free of charge.

Second, and certainly less urgent, Apple is tinkering with the “butterfly” keyboards found on different models of MacBook, MacBook Air® and MacBook Pro produced from 2015-18.  This tinkering may result in a free-of-charge keyboard repair — or possible replacement — for you.

Butterfly keyboards were initially designed in 2015 as part of an effort to make notebook computers thinner and lighter than in the past.  The 40 percent thinner butterfly switch replaced the traditional scissor mechanism below each key and was intended to make the typing experience more stable, responsive and comfortable.

In October of 2016, Apple started using a second generation of the butterfly keyboard in the MacBook Pro line. Then, in July of 2018, Apple updated the keyboard to a third-generation design that added a thin silicone membrane under each key to protect from dust and other foreign objects. That third-generation keyboard made its way into the MacBook Air released in October 2018.  Subsequently, in May of 2019, Apple once again updated the keyboard in the latest models of the MacBook Pro, telling the public that the fourth-generation design has a “materials change” in the mechanism.

Not so fast, claimed MacBook/Air/Pro buyers.  The butterfly keyboards, in some cases, caused users to complain about sticky keys, crunchy keys, letters typing in duplicate and letters not typing at all.  That’s not good.

So in June of 2018, just before the third-generation design appeared in the MacBook Pro, Apple acknowledged that “a small percentage” of first- and second-generation butterfly keyboards were affected and launched a repair program to fix them for free, even if they were out of warranty.  Apple may have been motivated by a class-action suit surrounding the butterfly keyboards filed against the company in May of that year.

When that “materials change” in the mechanism didn’t resolve all the issues in the third-generation keyboard, Apple released a fourth-gen butterfly keyboard with the current MacBook Pro models.  With this release, however, Apple also also extended the Keyboard Service Program (https://support.apple.com/keyboard-service-program-for-mac-notebooks) to cover the third-generation keyboards. The repair program lists the exact models that are covered, but it basically comes down to any 12-inch MacBook, MacBook Air models released in late 2018, and MacBook Pro models starting in 2016 and up to 2019.  Got it?

So here’s what it means for you, including how to get Apple to repair or replace a faulty keyboard:

— If you have a MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with one of these butterfly keyboards, and it is working properly, that’s great.  Do nothing—hopefully it will continue to work properly.

— If you have a MacBook model with ongoing keyboard problems, contact Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for a repair.  We suggest you have at least one and preferably two backups of your data, since Apple sometimes replaces storage devices while also doing unrelated repairs.

—  If you already paid Apple to have your butterfly keyboard repaired, contact Apple to request a refund.

It’s too soon to tell if the fourth-gen butterfly keyboard will resolve all the issues, but Apple is certainly working to make that happen.  If you have any questions about keyboard issues, or if you need some direction taking next steps with Apple, we’re always happy to help.  Reach out to CranstonIT at 888-813-5558 or support@cranstonit.com