Apple’s MacBook Pro is no stranger to controversies, experiencing keyboard, speaker and throttling issues since its 2016 overhaul. It turns out that it doesn’t end there, as a new hardware problem dubbed “flexgate” is causing a spotted effect on displays, and in some cases complete failure.
Breakdown experts at iFixit determined that Apple replacing the thicker wire cables used in previous designs with thinner, flexible ribbon cables under the Touch Bar was the main cause of the issue. As each cable is pulled tight every time the laptop was opened, it is believed to cause damage over time, resulting in the ‘spotlight effect’ at the base of the screen, and eventually the backlight fully borking.
MacBook Pro devices from as early as 2016 are affected by flexgate, although it isn’t clear just how widespread the issue is. Due to its long-term nature, the problem could occur at any point during the notebook’s life cycle, if at all. Still, users with any one of the following should make sure to open their device with extra care:
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2018)
Perhaps the most irritating thing about it all is that the modern redesign fuses the screen to the components, meaning that repairs can cost up to a whopping $600. This contrasts previous $6 cable replacements that used to be threaded through the hinge.
Without further testing, it’s difficult to tell whether the newest MacBook Air model is also affected given its incredibly similar layout. Apple has yet to acknowledge the issue, but it’s worth keeping an eye on your device and handling it with extra care in the interim.
KitGuru Says: Apple has fallen into the same trap that many tech companies seem to be pursuing: thinner means better. Of course, it does to an extent, but not if it means the reparability or longevity of a device.