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Apple repair program won’t upgrade older MacBook Pros to new keyboard

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Digital Trends

Although Apple introduced a quieter, new keyboard on the company’s 2018 MacBook Pro models, parts from this third-generation keyboard design won’t be used to repair or replace the faulty keyboards on older Apple’s older laptops. If you own an older MacBook Pro model with a USB-C port prior to Apple’s 2018 refresh and suffer from keyboard problems, Apple will replace it with a keyboard utilizing the same older design, so don’t expect to get a keyboard upgrade if you’re in need of Apple’s repair services.

Prior to launching the refreshed 2018 models, problems with Apple’s butterfly switch design were well documented, with users reporting either keys repeating, not registering, or sticking. The issue has led to the filing of several class action lawsuits, prompting Apple to offer a keyboard repair program for affected models.

At the time, Apple only stated that the keyboard flaw only affected a limited number of MacBook and MacBook Pro units. Under the repair program, Apple offered to either repair or replace the keyboard regardless of warranty status. Because of the keyboard’s design and how it is integrated with the MacBook Pro’s enclosure, an earlier report suggested that repairs could cost as much as $700 out of warranty.

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When Apple introduced the 2018 MacBook Pro, the company denied reports that its third-generation keyboard design came with a permanent engineering fix to address problems with sticky or unresponsive keys. Though Apple has not stated why its second-generation keyboard was highly prone to failure, users speculated that the problem may be caused by dust, dirt, or debris being lodged under the keys. A recent iFixIt analysis of the third-generation keyboard on the 2018 models revealed that Apple had placed a silicone barrier between the switch and the key caps as a means to dampen noise when typing. Apple said that this new quieter keyboard experience is an exclusive feature for its 2018 laptops, The Verge reported.

However, that barrier may also have the added benefit of preventing debris from getting lodged under the keys, suggesting that the third-generation keyboard did, in fact, come with a fix for sticky keys. Given that the 2018 models were only recently announced, it’s still too soon to tell how effective Apple’s fix works in real-world use, but if you own a late-2017 MacBook Pro or earlier with a defective keyboard, Apple won’t swap out your old keyboard for a new third-generation design when you take your laptop in for repair. This means that even after you take advantage of Apple’s keyboard repair program, your keyboard not only won’t be quieter, it could still suffer from the same flaw in the future if your MacBook ever finds itself near crumbs or dust.

Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
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