Apples' Poor Quality Control [Discussion]

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Quu, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. Quu macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    I'm making this thread because over the past month I've seen some seriously poor quality control from Apple.

    Some of you may have seen me posting in the yellow tint thread but the issues I've seen are more than just that. My concern is that Apples QC has significantly degraded over the past two years.

    A little background: I've owned four Apple notebooks, two iPads, three iPhones, 4 routers, one iPod Touch and two iPod Classics.

    I've never had to return any of these products to Apple before for any kind of defect. I've been buying from them for just over a decade and I got my first Apple laptop in 2004.

    From what I've seen the new Retina MacBook Pro's have their worst quality control of any product I've owned.

    To recap I've gone through four Retina MacBook Pro's. That is the fully maxed out 15" Model with 2.6GHz CPU / 1TB SSD / 16GB RAM / 750M.

    And not one of them were adequate. All four had screen problems where the bottom 50% of the screen was yellow. My 3rd unit had mild yellowing but instead it suffered from a broken enter key on the keyboard and a dark shadow on the bottom of the screen. It did still have the yellowing too but only mildly so compared to the others.

    Now you may chalk this up to two things.

    1. I got all four notebooks from a bad batch
    2. My expectations of quality are unreasonable and cannot be met

    I want to first assure you that both of these are untrue. I received every single notebook straight from China each time. I ordered from the Apple Online Store originally and all my replacements thus came straight from the factory. The Model numbers on all the units I received indicated my notebooks were constructed about 1 to 1.5 weeks apart from each other.

    The second point that I have an unreasonable expectation of quality is untrue but you'll need to take my word on that. I currently own a 2009 17" MacBook Pro and a 2006 17" MacBook Pro. They are both in perfect working condition and have better screens than any of the rMBP's I received Now I know that sounds crazy how can these old computers have a better screen? They are TN how can that be better than the IPS of these Retinas?

    Well I'm talking about the overall appearance here. Yes the top 50% of every rMBP I got looked better than my other notebooks. But my other notebooks were uniform. The rMBP's I received were not.

    I mean it's not like I had one dud, or two or three. I had four rMBP's straight from Apple all with the same yellowing screens + other physical defects. Two out of the four notebooks I received had uneven top lids. The 4th unit I received had a 3mm overhang on the left side of the notebook when closed and a 2mm recession on the right side for a total differential uneven lid of 5mm's - That is 0.5cm out of alignment with the base.

    Now I'm not just going to give you my opinion on what I saw on my screens I'm going to show you two pieces of information from a high quality very expensive hardware screen calibrator. The Spyder4Elite from Datacolor.

    In this first chart you can see the "white point" of the display.


    And in the second chart you can see the illumination level of the display (basically checking the uniformity of the backlighting)


    As you can see the varience of the display is absoloutely insane. Looking at the "white point" (if you can call any of that result white) it is so far off you cannot even calibrate it.

    For those unaware when you calibrate a display it doesn't work in gradients meaning you have to calibrate the whole display towards one colour temperature. You cannot specify a part of the screen to appear more blue than another part to try and "cool down" the yellow parts.

    This means if the display is not uniform (as these displays are not uniform) you cannot calibrate it as any change you perform will not look the same all over the display, it will only be "correct" in the small section of the screen that you placed the calibrator on.

    The results above with the calibrator were done by placing the calibrator on the screen nine times and taking a reading. The Spyder software did everything, at no point was my own judgement or possible bias involved in the results. So to be clear the spyder told me to place the device on the screen in a specific place and then it displayed different colours underneath that space to determine the colour temperature of that space. It then compiled the charts itself at the end of the testing.

    So you're probably wondering what kind of grade did the Spyder4Elite give this display? Well lets take a look:


    Now you're probably wondering why is the White Point score empty? Well it actually isn't empty. It just scored 0 out of 5. That's right, as far as the Spyder is concerned this display cannot even display white. It can only display yellow. No matter how far the calibrator adjusted the colours it was physically unable to get it to display any kind of white. To confirm this 0 score, you can only get an overall score out of the Spyder if you perform every test which is what was done.

    Now you're probably thinking, okay so you got a dud, that happens. And I agree with you it does happen. But keep this in mind, the test results here are for the best display out of all four machines that I received. These results are from the screen that showed the least yellowing of all four systems that I received.

    So I'm making this thread in hopes that we can have a civil discussion about the quality control lapses with Apple. I want to be clear I'm not making this thread to start a flame war or to ward you off purchasing their computers. I can say with confidence I will again buy an Apple computer and I will continue purchasing their iPhones and iPads. Their customer support throughout my own ordeal has been nothing short of superb.

    I just want us to have an open discussion about these problems and I'd like to hear what you guys think about this falling quality control problem and what you intend to do when it comes time for you to purchase a computer from Apple or if you've already purchased one and sent it back due to defects.

    Thanks for reading, I know it's a long post.
  2. Thevenin macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2013
    Thanks for posting.

    Well, reading around this issue, which obviously cannot be a " design choice " by Apple, suggests the shortage of QC for me too.

    I still wait, and hope to successfully update from my so-far-so-great system back from 2010.
  3. pendragon1984, Nov 29, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2013

    pendragon1984 macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2013
    My personal experience with Apple's quality control isn't any better. I went through 5 replacements, and they all had issues. 4 out of the 5 had noticeably uneven colour temperature with the corners appearing yellow. 1 out of 5 had a good quality screen but made weird hissing and electronic buzzing sounds. I ended up swapping screens in order to get a machine without issues. If I hadn't done that, I would now be on my 6th or 7th replacement.

    3 out of 5 of my machines came direct from china and the serial numbers suggest different production weeks for quite a few of the machines. So, they did not all come from the same batch.

    (Edit: Forgot to say that I had the creaking issue on my first rMBP too. So many issues I can't even remember them all.)
  4. Baadshah macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2008
    I cannot agree more, I have had almost same problems with these new rMPB 15" with nvidia 512 ssd. I ordered day after it was refreshed and received one with creaking and tint, went through 4 replacement with exactly same problem and finally gave up.

    I bought my first Mac in 08 and it was perfect, I have owned 5 iPhones, 2 ipads and few ipods with 0 problem.

    But this rMBP is not up to the quality you expect from Apple, i am not buying a Windows but a Mac with a premium price. I feel quality went downhill since Steve jobs died, he was the right man. Tim only thinks about making money with B grade components.

  5. Shrink macrumors G3


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    I either have dumb luck...or I'm just dumb, but all of the Apple devices I have owned have been, to my undoubtedly uncritical eye, just fine.

    And if it's just that I don't know any better, well...when ignorance is bliss...:p
  6. Quu thread starter macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    I think you got a good one because honestly the problems I've had are really really obvious like you don't even need to look hard just booting it up it's obvious straight away.

    There are good ones out there as Pendragon here has gone through 5 units and then got a great screen on one of his units. I trust in his judgement as he went through so many replacements to get a good unit so I believe him when he says he got a good one as he'd definitely be able to tell.

    I just think the chances of actually getting a good one are very slim.
  7. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I got a 13" rmbp when it came out and ive been inspecting it closely.
    Mine is flawless.
    Bought a new mba at the same time also flawless.
    Bought a iphone 5c about three weeks ago....well not flawless. The screen is loose and gives in when tapping.
    Still kept it because it otherwise works flawlessly.
  8. PDFierro macrumors 68040

    Sep 8, 2009
    Have you thought about giving it one more go? Or are you just done? This thread should absolutely remain a discussion. So much of the topics on this forum have ulterior motives behind them. We can remain objective about these problems while still loving Apple.

    On a side note, is there a specific reason why the 13" models are generally flawless? I believe only LG is behind the 13-inch screens. Would that be why?

    But it is just frustrating. Someone should be able to buy a 3K+ machine and have it be flawless.
  9. Quu thread starter macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    I'm willing to buy another one as I do still want the laptop. But I'm going to wait. I think I'll wait until the next major revision that alters the display in some way and hope that any change they do make to the display is a positive change.

    I will definitely be watching the forums when the Broadwell refresh happens for changes in display quality control.

    And about the 13" I think it's a smaller display, it has less pixels, it doesn't take as much bandwidth. There are a lot of different reasons as to why they are generally immune to this yellowing problem but if you look at the iPads the Air and the Mini a lot of people are having Yellowing and Image Retention with those so it seems to be a general problem with Apple and screen quality of late.

    Personally my own Air was fine but I cannot ignore those who have purchased 3-4 Airs and all suffered yellow tints just as I hope people won't ignore my experience with the 15" rMBP with the same issue even if they themselves have a perfect unit.
  10. MacSumo macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2013
    thank you for posting this. there are too many apple fanboys here who will ridicule you for talking against their religion.
  11. DHagan4755 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    This isn’t something that started happening with the with the retina screens. These types of issues have been going on for a LOOOONG time. If I had to blame any one thing, it’s that they are made in China. I don't think Apple has a firm grasp on their overseas assembly lines. Geez, I said this over 5 years ago. It’s one of the reasons I think they're (in the early stages of) moving production back to United States.

    The yellow screens started when Apple began using the LED backlighting beginning with the MacBook Pro in 2007. I know because I bought one. And those who were around back then will remember that the yellow screens were most prominent on the Samsung panels.

    Apple replaced a few of those 2007 MacBook Pros I bought back then to the point where I was so mad I emailed Steve Jobs. I was contacted a few days later by Apple Executive Customer Relations & they made it right for me — kinda. It was never perfect… It’s funny because I recently came across a picture of me taken back then with the computer (see below) & off angle you can clearly see the yellow tint. Thankfully it was hardly noticeable direct view.

    Before the LED backlighting I remember the issue was inconsistent backlighting. It was like the foil behind the LCD was wasn’t able to evenly spread the fluorescent backlight so you had darker, patchy areas or dark corners.

    And who remembers the audio hiss in the headphone jack issue? :D

    Last year, I tempted fate and bought the new 15 inch MacBook Pro with retina display. I did this fully knowing that there were issues with the LG screens having image persistence. But the main problem I had when I got the screen was that, again, it had this odd color cast to it. It was like an antique white that looked dirty and not pure and clean. I returned all three of them. Even the Apple Genius was like wow. I decided to wait. Too many problems.

    As for right now I'm using a brand new 2.0GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro that I got through work this past week & I'm looking to personally purchase one very soon. This one from work seems fine. It's an LG panel (A019) and it's a replacement for the first one. The first one I got at work had a tint to it where the whites looked brownish. That one had a Samsung panel (A022). I have an x-rite i1 that couldn't remove the Samsung's bias.

    From my years of experience it seems Samsung has more problems than LG —*yet I have a flawless 17-inch anti-glare MacBook Pro that I bought in 2009 & it's a Samsung panel.

    So my years of experience and my gut tells me things have improved but reading this forum is frightening. Meanwhile the rest of the world moves along without a fuss.

    Attached Files:

  12. DHagan4755 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    I should add that at work we replaced a fleet of 3-year-old MacBooks with 13-inch MacBook Airs. I oversaw the project. 275 MacBook Airs. We cloned over 4 days. Only 1 screen had a yellowish tint. The rest were A-Ok. So it makes you wonder...
  13. Quu thread starter macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    Interesting post Dave thanks for posting your experiences. I was not aware of the issues you described with the earlier model of MacBook Pro and honestly I'm surprised as I thought I knew more than I did.

    To me the way I feel about this whole thing is just dissapointed. I take a deep breath in and let out a big sigh when I think about what has occurred with my recent foray in purchasing a Retina MacBook Pro. I was so excited to finally get one having waited a year for them to work out all the kinks in the original model and build up a large catalogue of retina ready software only to be completely deflated at the inability of Apple to ship me a within spec system.

    My wife uses my 2006 17" MacBook Pro to this day. The very first 17" Intel MacBook Pro from Apple. And I'm just disappointed that even that system has better uniformity and an actual white white point than all the rMBP's I received.

    I also feel a little deceived by Apple with their marketing talking about how amazing the Retina display is but the reality is their prior TN panels that I had on my 2006 and 2009 MBP's were better in colour, brightness and uniformity, not just by mine and my wifes eyes but by our Spyder4Elite calibrator as-well.
  14. MacSumo macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2013
    I didn't know apple was this bad. It was my first MBP purchase (rMBP late 2013 15"), and thought I was experiencing bad luck. After consecutive problems, I found out online that:

    1) macs are known for overheating and people think it's normal
    2) macs are known for bad displays, but people don't complain
  15. DHagan4755 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    1) Not many Macs overheated. Some models just got really hot. This problem doesn't seem to really exist any more.
    2) Most people don't notice the problem. So it's not a problem to them.
  16. sinc26 macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2013
    I have no doubts that MBP's have QC issues with image retention and yellowing, but I do find your claims on brightness and backlight uniformity unusual. From this review of the 2009 MBP 17 and this review of the 2012 rMBP 15, it seems the rMBP should have a higher max brightness, a bit better backlight uniformity, and improved contrast over the 2009 MBP 17. Your Spyder4Elite grading also reflects that the rMBP's contrast, color accuracy/uniformity, and gamut are very good. It appears the main issue is related to yellowing/inaccurate white's.

    I think this is the point you were getting across with your original post, so I just wanted to clarify.

    I'd guess high DPI displays are just more difficult to manufacture. LCD panels undergo a binning process similar to CPU's, and it's possible LG/Samsung were just unable to produce enough up-to-spec panels. Manufacturers occasionally have a hard time keeping up with Apple's orders (pretty unusual for a company to source displays from more than one manufacturer), so they may have had to settle with lower grade panels. Very unfortunate for us, but at the very least Apple is excellent about exchanges/returns.
  17. Quu thread starter macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    Yeah what I meant was the brightness is more even on my 17" MBP, variance is only 2% across the whole panel. On the rMBP 15" it has a variance of 14% in the left corner, 13% in the right corner and 7-8% in other areas. All variances from the centre.

    According to the Spyder the display was able to reach 97% of the Adobe RGB colour spectrum which is why its gamut and colour is good. However it cannot give accurate whites so its ability to display red, blue and green are trumped by that I feel.

    One thing I should mention about the colour accuracy test is it only tests the very centre of the display for that. The only time it tests the entire display in 9 sections is for Brightness Uniformity and white point. I do not remember it doing colour tests on anywhere else but the centre of the panel.
  18. sinc26 macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2013
    Oh wow, the backlight uniformity in your MBP 17 is really good. Do you know if your display is backlit as opposed to edge lit? That kind of uniformity is top of class.
    Yeah, I'd agree the ability to display accurate whites is more important. Off whites are pretty easy to notice compared to other colors. Funny thing is much cheaper displays with inaccurate colors and narrow gamuts generally don't have white point issues...
  19. Quu thread starter macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    I don't know but its display looks gorgeous I know that much :D

    I also have three 30" Dells. Two 3007WFP-HC and one 3008WFP. These are IPS panels like the rMBP. Their resolutions are all 2560x1600 and have a DPI of 100. These screens are all pretty awesome too, the 3008WFP especially has an extremely white white and black black. This is a 2008 display as its name suggests and it uses a CCFL for backlighting and it is still very uniform. I cannot discern any kind of colour shifts on it with my own eyes, the calibrator can but only mildly so.

    I would agree with your previous assertion that it is difficult to make these high DPI displays. When it gets above 200 DPI there is definitely more than a few with bad panels. No one is more surprised than me at the state of this situation I never imagined I'd have to go through four machines and still not get a good one.

    I thought one was just bad luck, two bad ones okay maybe I got unlucky again. But three bad ones? four bad ones? That tells me there is a serious manufacturing problem.

    EDIT:// Something I just realised is in my original post I actually posted the uniformity chart with the display 50% brightness. This is the chart with the display at 100% brightness:


    As you can see at 100% the variance is even worse.
  20. radiohead14 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2008
    Quu - i agree with you on Apple's QC lately.

    some of you might've already seen my previous threads here before regarding my experiences having to go through 5 exchanges just to get a decent new haswell rMBP. i've gone through different build issues and screen defects all within my 14 day return period. i've owned plenty of Apple products before, and i've never experienced such poor quality like i've seen with those i've had to replace. i almost gave up and seriously considered a Windows notebook after getting to try out what Asus has to offer.

    i fear that this is just the beginning, as it seems like Apple is going for higher profits while cutting corners now. which is such a shame, as i can no longer confidently recommend their products to friends and family having gone through their recent quality issues.

    their attention to detail seems to have been lost now. with my previous MacBooks over the years, i could just open up a brand new one and that would be that.. no multiple returns to the store, no worries, and i didn't have to just accept it if one aspect of the computer is slightly off, because you just might get something worse with your replacement.
  21. PDFierro macrumors 68040

    Sep 8, 2009
    There's a big difference between this thread and yours. I hope you realize that.
  22. Quu thread starter macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007

    I just wanted to highlight these three posters who have all gone through 4 to 5 replacements and posted in this specific thread. These are all for the new Haswell rMBP. I believe the 15" model?

    Between just the four of us we have seen 19 machines if I understand all of you correctly. (Pen, 1 Unit + 5 Replacements, Baadshah 1 unit + 3 replacements, radiohead, 1 unit + 4 replacements, myself 1 unit + 3 replacements).

    And at-least 17 of those units we saw had defects. That is really ridiculous.
  23. Ryan1524 macrumors 68000


    Apr 9, 2003
    Canada GTA
    Thank you for posting this. You make me really want to get a Spyder.

    As for QC, I suggested in the other thread to wait a few months before trying to have Apple replace it. The rationale being to give Apple breathing room to actually have any sort of meaningful change done.

    But now I wonder if that change will ever happen without enough of you performing the initial barrage of complaints and exchanges.
  24. pendragon1984 macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2013
    When I said 5 replacements I guess what I meant was that I went through 5 different machines. So, 1 original unit and 4 replacements. Anyway, really a minor point. It's important to note that all 5 of the units I saw had problems, although only 4/5 had screen issues.
  25. DHagan4755 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Nah, it doesn't really work that way. The only meaningful change Apple can make is to move assembly of its products out of China.

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