'Flexgate' Display Issues Affecting 2016 MacBook Pro and Later

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Some 2016 and later MacBook Pro models appear to be displaying issues with uneven backlighting caused by a delicate and easy-to-break flex cable, which has been dubbed "flexgate."

    Impacted machines can feature uneven lighting at the bottom of the screen, which looks a bit like a "stage light" effect, and the display can eventually fail entirely.

    Image via MacRumors reader SourceSunToM​

    What's the cause?

    According to repair site iFixit, which first highlighted the problem, 2016 and later MacBook Pro machines are using thin, fragile display flex cables that are prone to malfunctioning with repeated closing and opening of the MacBook Pro's display.

    The flex cables are loosely wrapped around the display controller board and when the MacBook's display is opened, the cables are pulled tighter, leading to tears and problems over time.

    Image via iFixit​

    iFixit says the backlight cable is usually the one to break first, leading to backlighting issues and eventual display failure.

    Which models are affected?

    The issue can impact any 13 or 15-inch MacBook Pro model manufactured in 2016 and 2017 though it appears to be affecting Touch Bar models more frequently. 2018 models may also be impacted, but Apple did make flex cable changes to these machines that may solve the issue.

    Apple introduced a redesigned MacBook Pro in 2016, and this was the first to use the new flex cable. Older MacBook Pro models are not impacted because they use a more durable wire that was routed through the hinge instead of around it, mitigating the stress of repeated display openings.

    The new MacBook Air models could also eventually be impacted. While they use a different display cable design, iFixit says the cables also wrap over the display board and could potentially exhibit the same failure. It's not clear yet if that will happen, however.

    How long does it take for the problem to show up?

    When you first buy a MacBook Pro, the flex cable functions perfectly. With repeated closing and opening of the MacBook Pro's lid, however, the durability can decline, leading to the display issues.

    Since it takes time for the cable to break down, machines experiencing this issue generally do not display it for several months to years after purchase. Because it takes time to show up, affected MacBook Pro models may no longer be under the one-year warranty.

    What do I do if my MacBook Pro has this issue?

    If your MacBook Pro has this display issue, the first step is visiting an Apple retail store or contacting Apple support.

    Unfortunately, when this problem surfaces, many MacBook Pro models are older than a year and no longer covered by the standard one-year warranty. Those who have an extended AppleCare+ warranty will be able to get their repairs covered by Apple.

    Customers who do not have AppleCare+ may be required to pay out of pocket for repairs. While it's a simple cable that needs replacing, because of the way the MacBook Pro is designed, the flex cable is integrated into the display and requires the entire display assembly to be replaced.

    This can cost upwards of $600 for customers who are out of the warranty period.

    There have been reports of customers no longer under the one-year warranty that have been offered free or reduced cost repairs from Apple, but others have had to pay full price. Without a consistent policy in place, repair outcomes will vary.

    How many people are affected?

    Just how many MacBook Pro models are experiencing this issue remains unknown, but a growing number of complaints have been surfacing over the course of the last few months. There have been complaints on the MacRumors forums and the Apple Support Communities.

    What does Apple have to say?

    Apple hasn't commented on the issue at this point in time, and there is no repair program in place. Impacted users have started a website and a petition with the aim of getting Apple to offer free repairs via an extended warranty program.

    Is there a fix?

    Apple has not publicly commented on the Flexgate issues in some 2018 MacBook Pro models, but it appears the company may have quietly implemented a fix in its 2018 machines.

    As discovered by iFixit, the cabling responsible for the issue in older machines appears to be about 2mm longer in 2018 MacBook Pro models. The longer length alleviates the stress put on the cable when the hinge is open and closed and it could prevent the cable from weakening due to hinge use.

    iFixit isn't certain that the longer cable fixes the issue so it's possible some 2018 machines will still be affected, but they may very well be less prone to this issue.

    Discuss this issue

    If you have a MacBook Pro experiencing this flexcable issue, check out the ongoing discussion on the MacRumors forums where are users are sharing their experiences with Apple support, replacement machines, repair costs, and more.

    Article Link: 'Flexgate' Display Issues Affecting 2016 MacBook Pro and Later
  2. ross1998 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 10, 2013
    It gets harder and harder to justify paying 2-3k for a macbook pro every year. Shouldve bought the 2015 last year when they were really cheap.
  3. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009
    Had this happen to my 2016 about a month after having the keyboard replaced. That was after owning it for 4 months. Then a month after having the screen replaced the logic board went. I demanded and eventually for a new 2017 version. That one after 6 months the ssd went and they replaced it a long with the logic board also (although I think the logic board was because the geniuses don't know what they are doing). Now I got an email saying my ssd might be prone to failing and I am not sure if they mean the one I had that already failed or the new one also. Piece of crap computer
  4. JCCL macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2010
    Wow. Apple should at least replace this ones for free. Microsoft replaced my surface pro 4 after three years for free because of the flickering screen issue. I would expect Apple to do the same.
  5. lec0rsaire macrumors 65816

    Feb 23, 2017
    OK now this is a serious problem unlike complaints about the keyboard which were really more about hygiene and personal habits (eating while using it) than anything else.

    My 2016 15” has held up really well. Hell it’s still in mint condition but that’s because I regularly clean it (wiping down the keyboard, display and case) after prolonged use. I also never slam the display shut.

    I will actually take it in before the end of the year to complain about the keyboard having problems just to get a fresh battery before my AppleCare is up. Then I will either sell it or keep it for another year. It all depends on what they release this year.
  6. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Looks like repair program’s back on the menu, boys!

  7. Sharkoneau macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2017
    Really worried about this. I have a 2018 MBP-TB that was purchased in August, yet not used until December when I purchased it secondhand. I plan to keep this machine for at least 4 years. The original owner did not purchase AppleCare.

    I’m not only worried that my machine will be out of warranty, but if a repair does happen, will this issue repeatedly resurface?
  8. Mackinjosh macrumors 65816

    Aug 21, 2014
    Absolute nonsense.
  9. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    I've already replaced my MBP with a Surface Book 2. If my wife's MBP goes, its replacement won't be a Mac.
  10. Rafael Santos macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2019
    You'll have other problems. I bought a BTO Macbook Pro 2015 and after more than one and less than two years noticed that it became wobbly and the trackpad wasn't working correctly all the time. Took it to an authorized (no Genius Bars in Brazil) and the batteries were swollen. Being out of warranty I had to pay around 600 dollars to change the battery, keyboard and trackpad since they all seemed crazy-glued together.

    Yet another year and I noticed that it is starting to get wobbly again. When I bought it it was a good investment -- 3000 dollars for a computer that was supposed to last for 8-10 years. Now...
  11. lec0rsaire macrumors 65816

    Feb 23, 2017
    No. I’m sorry but what I said is true. Every time someone posted a video or picture of their messed up keyboard it was covered in grime. Try again.
  12. Analog Kid, Feb 1, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019

    Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    Every time someone puts "gate" at the end of a word for cheap PR, a Nixon gets his wings.
  13. Adam Warlock macrumors regular

    Adam Warlock

    Jun 22, 2016
    I'm in a similar situation. Bought a 15" this Black Friday and although Apple has temporarily extended the AppleCare+ purchase period for 90 days I'm loathe to spend another $500+ CAD on this laptop. Should I take a chance that, if the problem should arise even in 3-4 years time, Apple will do the right thing and fix the problem for free?
  14. TIOATIOA macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2016
    SC, USA
    The real tragedy here is MacRumors’ continued insistence on using “-gate” any time a product defect pops up.

    Seriously, give it a rest.
  15. freddiebarnes macrumors newbie


    Oct 12, 2018
    I’m really glad I bought my “Early 2015” MacBook Pro when I did. It seems like it was the last of the well built and trouble free MacBooks. I haven’t had a problem with the display, keyboard or anything else in almost 4 years. If Apple keeps up with this poor quality trend, this will be my first and last MacBook.
  16. confusedpurple macrumors member

    Sep 12, 2018
    Lets be realistic - there will be a recall. Apple won't have a choice. It's not the first time and wont be the last, and they are absolutely responsible, especially given how piss poor the construction of their newer macbooks has been.

    Oh, also...

    No. Just no. Nobody except you guys are calling this flexgate. Stop it.
  17. macsforme macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Breaks my heart. Such an awful design compromise, leading to the needless waste of otherwise working components, and at such a great expense to customers.
  18. Marshall73 macrumors 65816


    Apr 20, 2015
    Have fun when the screen battery fails to charge.
  19. GStevens1 macrumors newbie

    Feb 1, 2019
    That's very interesting that you say this.
    I am typing on a 2013 Apple Macbook Pro 15 Retina, that has never needed a repair, has only 4 battery discharge cycles, and has been the greatest laptop I've ever owned.

    Tomorrow morning, I am purchasing a mint condition 2015 Macbook Pro 15 Retina, 2.8GHz with the 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM laptop which was kept in a case for its whole life. I really like that the 2012 - 2015 Macbook Pros are still serviceable by users, hard drives are removable and upgradeable, data recovery ports are in tack, and repairs are relatively easy.

    The new 2016+ Macbook Pros are engineered to be non-repairable 100%, and they have factory defective designs (faulty display design issues, keyboard issues, no internal data recovery port, non removable storage, lack of legacy ports, garbage keyboard when it does happen to work, soldered in storage, no magsafe power plugs, no illuminated apple logo, no function keys, and the list goes on and on). I feel so terrible for folks that spent $3k - $6k+ for a notebook that has constant hardware defects.

    I am thankful that I didn't follow everyone else and "upgrade" to the 2016 line the minute they were released. I'm seeing some on craigslist which were sold for $3k going for around $1,XXX range. Some people out there are starting to become smart. Their extended applecare + warranty on 2016 units will fail this year in 2019, and they will be stuck with massive repair bills, not IF but WHEN.

    I will let go of my 2013, 2015 Macbook Pro Retina laptops, once I'm dead and/or killed.

    As of now, I'm not sure I would even take a 2016+ Macbook Pro *for free,* due to the faulty and unreliable hardware which is guaranteed to fail someday depending upon usage. If given one for free, I would quickly sell it to some unsuspecting idiot.
  20. xraydoc macrumors demi-god


    Oct 9, 2005
    Like when a glued-in MacBook battery dies? Or an iPad battery?
    Replacements on wearable parts is one thing. Expensive $600-$800 top lid replacements because a speck of dust has rendered your unremovable keyboard inoperable is something else.
  21. laz232 macrumors 6502

    Feb 4, 2016
    At a café near you
    with my 2018 MacBook Pro I have had two keys that've started malfunctioning. using my computer for work in the labs and sometimes in the clean rooms. Apple made some bad engineering choices, full stop.

    Not everything can be blamed on the user... It's just a question of doing good engineering, for example my old ThinkPad from 2007 survives everything because it was designed by people that placed function over shaving an extra mm off the thickness. Nor did it cost $3000 and it never had any keyboard problems (The screen was awful though, But then again it's a 12-year-old computer)
  22. Jsb54wcl macrumors newbie


    Feb 1, 2019
    --- Post Merged, Feb 1, 2019 ---
    Yet another par of the design is proving to be flimsy. And for those that claim the keyboard is a design issue all I can say is that I had to replace my keyboard in November due to a bad b key. I never eat near the computer and always make sure to keep dust away and it still went bad.
  23. FrankeeD macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2012
    You can purchase AppleCare anytime during the first year after it was purchased, so if you want it, there's still time.
  24. Eorlas macrumors 6502

    Feb 10, 2010
    i had a 2015 that just started failing on me mid last year. handful of failed repairs later, apple hands me a comparable 2018 macbook pro.

    and then i find out now they're soldering the ssd to the logic board...lord have mercy.
  25. R.P.G macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2016
    What a pitiful state we are in. Everyone is thinking of getting Apple care along with brand new expensive rig. It was not the case before and need of Apple care is the last thing in purchase decision.

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