Retina MacBook Pro 15 *not* a Glass Screen?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by orthorim, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. orthorim, Feb 11, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013

    orthorim macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2008
    I have a retina MacBook Pro 15". I always assumed that it has a glass screen - it says so on Apple's website, and my previous 17" MacBook Pro also had a glass screen.

    Yesterday I got it to my Apple service provider to replace the display for some pixels that are stuck on bright - there's about 5 different spots and some of them have more than 1 pixel, so no problem, they agreed to replace it.

    But when they were cleaning the screen I noticed something stuck on the screen, like a tiny piece of dirt. Tried to get it off to no avail - and it feels like a little ding?! Now how is that possible, a ding on a glass screen - glass doesn't ding or scratch (well - easily), it breaks or it's perfect.

    So I started scrubbing - now since I am getting the screen replaced anyway I did something I wouldn't normally do and tried to clean it with the rough side of a 3M sponge - the kind that will scratch plastics and soft materials. Now I got scratches on top of the ding, and it's definitely confirmed that this is a ding not some very stubborn dirt!

    So I suspect that the retina MacBook Pro actually has a plastic screen. Glass does not scratch, certainly not with the rough side of a sponge - I use this sponge to clean dishes and glasses every day and they don't get scratched. I can use this on a window all day long and there are no scratches - it's just not hard enough.

    Or is the screen some sort of special extra-soft glass?

    My previous MacBook Pro 17 got scrubbed furiously and the screen always looked perfect, even 3 years later. That was a real glass screen, and I much enjoyed being able to clean it without worry. Seems like the retina MacBook Pro screen isn't quite that good.
  2. BeeJee macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2011
    Long Island/North Jersey
    All hell would break loose if Apple cheaped out on the screen by using a plastic panel. Let me reassure you that it is indeed glass
  3. Artagra macrumors member

    Sep 6, 2007
    It is still glass - it's just a different type of glass. Laptop LCD panels, as far as I know, are all made of glass.

    In the Macbook Air, the glass of the panel itself is exposed, and surrounded by the bezel. On the conventional Macbook Pro, it's covered by another piece of glass that goes edge to edge. On the Macbook Pro Retina, the innovation is that the panel construction has been changed such that the piece of glass that is the front of the LCD panel goes to the edges of the screen housing, and the aluminium back is the back of the LCD panel housing.

    So essentially, they've been able to thin it down by using the external structural components as parts of the LCD panel itself, at the expense of repairability and robustness. This allows Apple to make it thinner, decrease glare, increase the contrast ratio, and to get that "pixels painted on the surface" look of the iPhone 4 onwards.

    It makes sense if you think about it - Macbook Airs screens have always been easier to scratch or mark, even though they are still made of glass.
  4. mike5065 macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2013
    anti-reflective coatings would scratch, would they not?
  5. bogatyr macrumors 65816

    Mar 13, 2012
    It is an LCD... made with glass substrate (can't find a good explanation online of what that is), all LCDs use glass substrate. The non-retina pro uses an additional sheet of glass overtop of the LCD which the retina doesn't have (weight/thickness issues obviously). So I just assume the retina is made of the standard LCD materials - which can scratch.

    Even if it did have a pure glass cover... I would never use anything abrasive on a laptop. Especially a 2-3 thousand dollar laptop.
  6. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    "Glass does not scratch" - then why does my glass desk have loads of little surface scratches.

    It's incredibly thin glass with an anti-glare coating. Don't believe me, throw a stone at it (it's going to be replaced anyway) and watch it shatter. The old displays had a separate layer of glass and were much tougher. The retina has the glass as part of the LCD itself.
  7. Spikeywan macrumors 6502

    Dec 11, 2012
    Are you saying that the rMPB has a glass screen? My 15" doesn't feel like glass at all. If I press it gently it squidges a little, just like it's made of plastic. :confused:
  8. MacKid macrumors 6502

    Jan 1, 2003
    Also, remember that unless you clean the entire screen at once, small areas you touch with an abrasive surface can sometimes look scratched just because of shifting oils/debris. This was a more noticeable problem on the "old" matte screens.

    The glass on the screens will always be flexible because, as others have mentioned, it's mad thin. It's not designed to be frequently handled like the sturdy panes of Gorilla on your iDevices.

    A picture would help us see what's going on, though.
  9. orthorim, Feb 12, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013

    orthorim thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2008

    Thanks. I think this probably explains it the best - it's some sort of glass-like material. But it's not standard glass. And it's way less tough than the glass sheet covering the standard MacBook Pro (which is probably Gorilla Glass or something like that).
  10. orthorim thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2008
    Well I like the glass substrate response above more - that actually explains that this isn't your standard window-glass, it's something else, a glass mixture that's not as hard as actual glass.

    Also explains why it's not the same as the standard MacBook Pro.

    I am aware that it's possible to scratch glass - but you have to really try. Sand (quartz) will do it, and other things but, for example, if I do my dishes and scrub a glass as hard as I can with the rough side of the 3M sponge, it won't do anything.


    Well this is all true but all a little inaccurate.
    - The old matte screen had a coating that would scratch (which is why I chose glossy - I wanted a screen that doesn't scratch). Some were even just plastic like standard laptops (remember all laptops except Macs had and still have plastic screens).

    - Mine has a ding like something hard hit it. It's tiny but it's there.

    - The standard and prev gen MacBook Pro had an actual glass screen as tough as your iDevice screens. Not sure it was gorilla glass but wouldn't be surprised, gorilla glass is not expensive after all...


    I thought it did because my MacBook Pro 17 had a glass screen, and because glass is frequently mentioned on Apple's press materials. But I guess I was wrong :(
  11. orthorim thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2008
    Happy to report got a brand new Samsung panel. Flawless.
  12. red_ashcroft macrumors newbie


    Mar 28, 2017
    --- Post Merged, Mar 28, 2017 ---
    My MBP 2015 have very fine scratches. I use their cloth and glass cleaner to clean the screen but I think I should stop doing that. My iPad doesnt have a screen protector and it doesn't have scratches. Which means they're using some cheap alternative for the screen.
  13. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    I don't think anyone has ever used "standard" glass, i.e window glass, in displays or other things that need to be able to sustain wear and tear or resist an impact. All glass used in these kinds of applications has as far as I'm aware always been laminated. Think car windscreens.

    The way laminated glass works is that you take two sheets of glass and then put a thin film of see-through plastic in between the sheets and on each side of the sheets when you put them together.
  14. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Your iPad is also engineered for a very different usage scenario. Sizes, environment, usage context — all is different. Its not surprising that the laptop screen is less sturdy than a tablet screen (that is literally designed to be poked with hard objects). I even let my cats play with the iPad, no scratches so far.

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14 February 11, 2013