Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Flexgate: Display Issues With 2016 and Newer MacBook Pros

Joe Rossignol (9to5Mac):

An increasing number of users have experienced backlight issues on 2016 and newer MacBook Pro models, particularly those with the Touch Bar, often resulting in a so-called “stage light effect” along the bottom of the display.

According to the repair website iFixit, which highlighted the issue today, the underlying cause is Apple’s use of thin, fragile flex cables that connect the display with the display controller board on 2016 and newer MacBook Pro models, as opposed to the more durable wire cables used in previous generations.

Taylor Dixon:

But the bigger problem is that, in an apparent effort to make the display as thin as possible, Apple designed the cables as part of the display, so cannot be replaced. This means that when (not if) those cables start to fail, the entire display unit needs to be replaced, as opposed to one or two little cables—effectively turning a $6 problem into a $600 disaster.

Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

Imagine if you had to replace half of your car because a cable stopped working. This is simply horrible design.

This is just not a good generation of Mac notebooks.

Update (2019-01-23): Dan Masters:

Design is not just what a product looks and feels like. It’s also how it fails.

Update (2019-02-04): See also: Juli Clover.

Update (2019-03-05): Whitson Gordon (Hacker News, MacRumors):

Since we were just wrapping up writing the repair manual for the 2018 model anyway, we checked inside our 2018 15” MacBook Pro again to measure its cable against its 2016 predecessor—and found the 2018 cable was, in fact, a full 2mm longer. Since this change appears in both our 15” model and Olivia88’s 13” model, it’s plausible this change is present in multiple, if not all, 2018 MacBook Pros.


Worst of all, this implies that Apple knew about the flexgate issues before public backlash hit its fever pitch, and still refuses to even acknowledge the issue, let alone take responsibility and offer free repairs. In fact, multiple people claim Apple has deleted support threads regarding the issue on Apple.com, attempting to sweep this under the rug rather than offer an extended warranty program to those affected. You can sign this petition to try and get their attention, or fill out their feedback form here.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Apple makes a lot of noise about caring for the environment but they seem perfectly happy to be generating so much unnecessary electronic waste.

Saw this same concern on Louis Rossman's YouTube channel. $6 part is now a huge repair bill and there's nothing he can do to work around the problem. To me, the new design seems like an over engineered bit of self indulgence.

Having read the entire iFixit article now, I see they even referenced the same video. Nice write up and thank you Michael for linking to it.

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