'Flexgate' Display Issues Affecting 2016 MacBook Pro and Later

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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 appears to 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.

Does Apple have a repair program?

Apple in May 2019 launched a Backlight Repair Program designed for 13-inch MacBook Pro models manufactured in 2016.

According to Apple, a "very small percentage" 13-inch MacBook Pro displays from 2016 can exhibit vertical bright areas along the bottom of the screen or a backlight that malfunctions entirely.

Apple will repair affected devices, which includes machines sold between October 2016 and February 2018, for free. Eligible models are listed below:
[*]MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
[*]MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
No other MacBook Pro models are included in the repair program at this time, even if those machines are displaying similar issues.

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, an Apple Authorized Service Provider, 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, and Apple is offering free repairs for 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro models displaying this issue.

Customers who do not have AppleCare+ or a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro 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.

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
 
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newdeal

macrumors 68020
Oct 21, 2009
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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
 

lec0rsaire

macrumors 65816
Feb 23, 2017
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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.
 
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Sharkoneau

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2017
662
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Michigan
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?
 
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Rafael Santos

macrumors newbie
Feb 1, 2019
7
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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.
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...
 

Adam Warlock

macrumors regular
Jun 22, 2016
207
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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?
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?
 
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freddiebarnes

macrumors member
Oct 12, 2018
53
111
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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.
 

confusedpurple

macrumors member
Sep 12, 2018
53
102
0
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...

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."
No. Just no. Nobody except you guys are calling this flexgate. Stop it.
 

macsforme

macrumors regular
Mar 16, 2007
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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.
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.
 

GStevens1

macrumors newbie
Feb 1, 2019
4
25
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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.
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.
 

laz232

macrumors 6502
Feb 4, 2016
415
609
0
At a café near you
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.
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)
 

Jsb54wcl

macrumors newbie
Feb 1, 2019
1
6
0
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.
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.
[doublepost=1549073074][/doublepost]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.
 

FrankeeD

macrumors newbie
Jul 29, 2012
14
18
0
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?
You can purchase AppleCare anytime during the first year after it was purchased, so if you want it, there's still time.
 

Eorlas

macrumors 6502a
Feb 10, 2010
569
663
0
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.
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.
 
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