MacBook Pro Keyboards Are Failing at an Alarming Rate

I’m typing this article on a MacBook Pro from 2016, and I totally get why a new report shows that its flat Butterfly keyboard is failing twice as fast as the keyboards on previous models.

The data comes from Apple Insider, which says it was collected from assorted Apple Genius Bars in the U.S. and Apple-authorized third-party repair shops.

The data shows a failure rate of 11.8 percent for the keyboard on the 2016 MacBook Pro, or 165 issues out of 1402. That rate for 2015 was just 6 percent. The 2015 model had a similar failure rate of 5.6 percent.

MORE: Apple's Laptops Have Hit Rock Bottom

2017 looks a bit better for the MacBook Pro’s 2nd-generation Butterfly keyboard, but not by much, and Apple Insider notes that it does not include a full year’s worth of data. It shows 8.1 percent of service events related to the keyboard.

Based on my own experience with the 2016 model, I can see why there are so many complaints and issues. Sometimes, key presses don’t register on the first try, forcing me to strike the keys with more force. However, I’ve never felt as though I needed to have my laptop serviced.

Unfortunately, repairing the MacBook Pro’s keyboard is pricey, as Apple Insider notes that costs can reach as much as $700 out of warranty. And that’s because the keyboard itself can’t be replaced; the repair involves replacing everything from the keyboard and battery to the upper casing surrounding the keyboard.

Apple finished at an all-time low of 7th place in our Best and Worst Laptop Brands report, and we have noted in our reviews that its keyboards have fallen behind the Windows competition.

And while new models with improved layouts could be on the horizon, we just learned yesterday that the rumored new 13-inch MacBook Air may be delayed beyond Apple’s WWDC event in June.

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Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.