Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

caolbres

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 23, 2023
16
28
Hello all!

I’m here to share details on my experience, as well as many other user experiences, with the M2 MacBook Air display (largely inclusive to Build to Order (BTO) models).

As brief as I can be: in 2 months I’ve ordered 4 M2 MBA models (BTO) that have all displayed screen defects to varying degrees.

Dirty Screen Effect​

I’ve personally noticed DSE on 3 different BTO MacBook Air M2 models that are consistent with a display flaw.

Of course the display is not actually dirty!

Instead, the complex layers and lighting of the LCD is uneven, and that non-uniformity is visible in the backlight we see looking at the screen.

In this specific case, a dark horizontal bar across the screen is highly distracting when viewing content.

This effect is most noticeable when scrolling through Google, or scrolling across vertical lines on a white background.

As a graphic creative designer, a clear display is integral to the quality of my work and likely to others who depend on screen quality for their jobs.

MBA.jpg

(Clockwise) M2 MBA X Ray by Creative Electron/IFIXIT | Best example photo of DSE MBA pic by u/StillAliveZZ | MBA Diagrams


M2 Screens.jpg

Posts from Reddit & MacForums showing screen defect on mostly BTO M2 MBA & 3 separate, exchanged BTO orders of my own. In some images lighting was altered to enhance the issue.

Keyboard Markings on Display

I’ve recently learned many customers are also reporting an increased observation of keyboard pressure marks on the display.

This is a common issue with MacBook over time, and is expected.

The red flag 🚩🚩🚩 is that these marks appear in the same location of this foam padding meaning there's more of a chance of contact than normal.

M2 Screens2.jpg

Why is this happening?​

I'm confident the problem is from a thin foam padding element inside the display, which exerts pressure onto the screen (or not enough).

Other MacBook teardown reveal this foam padding typically covers the entire display. In the new M2 MBA, the foam padding is a sparse horizontal bar with two additional smaller bars at the top.

This cost cutting foam strip issue could be worsened by a known less reputable manufacturer Wingtech winning the job for assembling the M2 Airs.

MBP Padding.jpg

IFIXIT MBP Foam Padding, which is likely what the MBA Foam Padding looks like.

DIY Attempt at Fixing​

Applying minimal pressure to the visible dark spots (with a soft microfiber cloth) temporarily resolves the problem.

But once the display/lid weight, orientation or the temperature changes, your tedious work is undone.

Screen Lotto & QC​

Some have humorously mentioned effects varying for better or worse as the “screen lottery”.

I love that, because with many LCD panels it’s true, they all vary in quality.

It's likely the case here that on many of the BTO models, there are issues with QC and how those panels are processed.

Concluding Thoughts.​

  • A cost saving LCD Display Foam Strip is causing poor screen variance in displays.
  • The issue may be worsened by a less reputable bidder (Wingtech) winning the production job for the M2 MBA.
  • BTO MBA’s vs Base MBA’s screens may differ in quality, due to production, assembly and QC.
  • Users can directly manipulate DSE with touch, temporarily relieving effect.
  • Per several recorded experiences, re-ordering is far from a guaranteed fix.
  • I see new posts & comments about this issue to date (03/06)

Test your M2 MBA​

It's very simple to test if your M2 MBA has this issue!

Google Search or Reading with White Background
As your eyes scan, you'll notice grey shading on the screen in the specified areas, in your peripherals.

Scroll through a linear gradient
If you're able to, scrolling through a full screen linear gradient really helps highlight the areas in your peripherals.

Look at different colors Fullscreen
This issue is sometimes noticeable when you change colors of the screen. One person who returned their M2 said the Apple Store employee didn't see the issue until he changed the screen color to a gold/yellow, and it was very clear.

What can be done​

Please reply with your experience as well so that we can all hear each others stories, and get the convo going!

If this has happened to you, I urge you to leave a brief comment on apples product feedback page so they can take note of this and hopefully make changes!

Also please keep in mind, I’m just a dude on the internet. I’m no expert. I’m just here to share my experience, and hopefully generate more conversation and answer a problem that I’ve had for others to read.

I still love Apple, and these things happen. Hopefully we can get the issue fixed!

Links to other posts with same issue​

Reddit

https://www.reddit.com/r/mac/comments/wly5nh
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbook/comments/10h8uqz
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbookair/comments/yemop9
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbook/comments/zrhgs1
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbook/comments/wo4j22
https://www.reddit.com/r/mac/comments/wly5nh
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbookair/comments/1137s92
MacForums

https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...en-uniformity-issue-center-of-screen.2353160/

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/m2-mba-shadows-on-the-screen.2374323/
 

Attachments

  • M2 Screens Comp.jpg
    M2 Screens Comp.jpg
    175 KB · Views: 352
Last edited:

russell_314

macrumors 603
Feb 10, 2019
6,076
9,046
USA
That’s interesting but if it’s a design problem like you suggested why only some units are effected. There are no defects on my M2 Air screen and I’d be willing to bet none on most.

Maybe this is an issue with an improperly calibrated equipment assembling it? Of course quality control should catch this.
 

caolbres

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 23, 2023
16
28
That’s interesting but if it’s a design problem like you suggested why only some units are effected. There are no defects on my M2 Air screen and I’d be willing to bet none on most.

Maybe this is an issue with an improperly calibrated equipment assembling it? Of course quality control should catch this.
Hey Russell, appreciate the response and you sharing your experience here. I am curious if your model is a BTO or base model. In my experience and reading other customer stories, the BTO M2 MBA seem to be the most affected units.

I've seen 3 base models in person and they didn't exhibit severe DSE, but due to the construction of the display lid, these DSE marks appear visible on all units just at different intensities.

The best way to test for it is to take an evenly lit image of a blank white (or bright grey) MBA screen at half brightness and adjust the image highlights, white point, etc. and the markings will surely be visible.

I appreciate your feedback. I'll update my post to include more images of the defect.
 

papbot

macrumors 68020
May 19, 2015
2,195
1,029
If you look for “shadows” or “smearing” screens on the MBA M2 you will find threads here going back to last year. I and many others got our laptops replaced because of this. When I first saw this on my MBA ordered online from the Apple Store I wanted to believe it was somehow software related but I didn’t want to risk going past the 14 day return window if it was a defective screen. It’s very easy to determine - I cleared off my desktop and chose a light colored blank wallpaper making it very visible. I went to my local Apple Store and checked out their table units. None of them had this issue. So the next day I took mine in, showed it to a sales rep and 15 minutes later walked out with a new one that was perfect.

I do believe Apple knows they had a run of defective screens and the stores aren’t hesitating to replace them. If you look through all those previous threads here there were a lot of people with these defective screens, probably many more who either didn’t notice or chose to ignore it. Had I not found these threads back then I may well have chosen to accept it as the rest of the laptop was immaculate. I did wonder at the time as most, I believe, who received the defective units had ordered them online. Those purchased from the stores, as my replacement was, didn’t seem to have the issue as often. And again none of the display units at my store had any such issue.
 

OAG7

macrumors member
Dec 24, 2020
74
47
Central Ohio
I have a BTO MBA (24 MB Memory, M2, MACOS 13.2.1). I usually use only dark screen but just tried to see the light screen and do not see any problems on the screen. I ordered my unit on line from Apple about 2 weeks after they were released.
 
Last edited:

kbonnel

macrumors 6502
Mar 1, 2004
471
2
In a nice place..
I had this exact issue with a M2 Air and swapped it out at microcenter for another which didn't have the issue. Both, however, had a yellow tint to the LCD which drove me crazy so I returned it. I was going back and forth between an M2 Air and a M1 MBP 14, and decided to go with the MBP for the awesome screen.
 
  • Like
Reactions: caolbres

whizkid11

macrumors regular
Mar 2, 2015
232
146
Just a thought from someone who had similar concerns with graphic design. The display on the the M2 is not particularly well suited for it. It's quite the basic LCD that comes with typical caveats. Have you considered an OLED laptop? The new Samsung Book 3 Pro has a 120hz OLED screen which is superior for graphic design. Of course it's pale in comparison regarding battery life and OS (Windows), but the screen is downright amazing.
 

whizkid11

macrumors regular
Mar 2, 2015
232
146
I had this exact issue with a M2 Air and swapped it out at microcenter for another which didn't have the issue. Both, however, had a yellow tint to the LCD which drove me crazy so I returned it. I was going back and forth between an M2 Air and a M1 MBP 14, and decided to go with the MBP for the awesome screen.
I was at the Apple Store yesterday and noticed this too. The MBP has better color uniformity, deeper blacks at full brightness, higher frame rate, and just sharper overall. In fact, the blacks on the MBA at fill brightness is pretty dismal. The only drawback is that it feels considerably heavier than the air despite being a spec'd at only few ounces more.
 

trix1701

macrumors newbie
Jul 22, 2021
15
39
I'm experiencing as well on my MBA M2, it's only annoying when scrolling as stands out more, but I can live with it, it's not worse case. Overall MacBook Air M2 display is fantastic (for a non-mini led display) Apple really put great effort into it, just uniformity is not always the best. But would also be great to use mini-led in future versions,

I don't think Apple consider it a screen defect though, its an issue related to general IPS screens (in their view) and varies on some from hardly noticeable, to very bad. Depending where your screen falls in that range, depends on success for return/replace, or ability to live with it, not care about it.

It's exactly the same on the studio display 27inch, and probably on any display Apple make now (at least the non-mini led ones, not sure how MBP are). I returned my personal home Studio display as it was quite bad, could not live with it. But office one, is lot better, still there but not distracting, a keeper.

Because of issues like this, I don't replace anything, just return and buy again instead (keep your options open, as replacements are not perfect)
 

caolbres

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 23, 2023
16
28
Just a thought from someone who had similar concerns with graphic design. The display on the the M2 is not particularly well suited for it. It's quite the basic LCD that comes with typical caveats. Have you considered an OLED laptop? The new Samsung Book 3 Pro has a 120hz OLED screen which is superior for graphic design. Of course it's pale in comparison regarding battery life and OS (Windows), but the screen is downright amazing.
Hey whizkid, appreciate the comment and your feedback! Also good looking out with the laptop recommendations btw.
 
  • Like
Reactions: whizkid11

caolbres

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 23, 2023
16
28
I had this exact issue with a M2 Air and swapped it out at microcenter for another which didn't have the issue. Both, however, had a yellow tint to the LCD which drove me crazy so I returned it. I was going back and forth between an M2 Air and a M1 MBP 14, and decided to go with the MBP for the awesome screen.
Thanks for the feedback! I've read elsewhere that the MBA's had a yellow tint issue.

Retroactively asking, in your experience, are you confident it wasn't a True Tone/Night Shift issue?

Thanks!
 

xtremesniper

macrumors member
Dec 12, 2011
30
14
Wow, I feel seen by this post. Everything you mentioned is true of my MBA M2. It's BTO (16gb/512gb) and I am now on my 4th try at getting one without DSE.

This most recent replacement is my last chance. Apple is no longer willing to acknowledge the issue and has said that they will no longer offer replacements. So I have to choose whether to put up with it or return it. I bought it during the Black Friday sale so I'm hesitant because I'd lose my BF offer on it. I may consider trying to do a repair on the screen instead of a replacement of the laptop, but I'm not sure if my return period would be affected by that.

Getting to the point: This 4th laptop still exhibits the exact same issue as the first 3, but to a lesser degree. It's 100% still there, and it's still annoying when scrolling through the web (most websites have white backgrounds), but it's not as bad as my previous one which also was exhibiting other issues like keyboard popping.

It feels wrong for a laptop at this price point to feel like it has a dirty screen that I can't clean.

If what you're saying is true (it's affecting BTO only) then potentially a repair on the screen might be the trick? If they replace the screen with one from a different vendor then it might not have the same issue?
 

Sowelu

macrumors 6502a
Aug 15, 2008
784
947
New York City
This is an impressive write up! I had this on a BTO M2 MacBook Air as well - it was only on one side. Initially I could not figure out what was causing it, and just chalked it up to the film that's over the panel (behind the glass).

My thinking is that it wasn't applied properly, or they are using films from varying suppliers which have varying quality (as with all other parts sourced from more than one supplier).

The replacement (also BTO) was an improvement in every way - a flawless, vibrant display with no blotches or color shifting on angles, and great whites, silent thunky trackpad, and a tight springy keyboard with excellent feedback.

Variances are usually slight, but noticeable to some. I would say there is a lottery for just about every sourced part, but when the variances are more drastic, it's a factory and or supplier QC issue.
 

smoking monkey

macrumors 68020
Mar 5, 2008
2,344
1,470
I HUNGER
If you can't see it up until now, I definitely advise not trying to find it because once you see it, you can't unsee it.

Also you can have darkmode always on and many websites and apps will have a black background. And use a dark colour on your desktop. That will help it to disappear or will stop you thinking about it constantly. That's not a perfect solution or even the best solution as the panel shouldn't do that, but it can help.
 

ilikewhey

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2014
3,595
4,641
nyc upper east
That’s interesting but if it’s a design problem like you suggested why only some units are effected. There are no defects on my M2 Air screen and I’d be willing to bet none on most.

Maybe this is an issue with an improperly calibrated equipment assembling it? Of course quality control should catch this.
jack up your brightness with a black canvas, take a picture in the dark and post it here so we can have some benchmark of what a perfect lcd screen is.
 

orbital~debris

macrumors 68020
Mar 3, 2004
2,172
5,696
UK, Europe
Can't contribute to the issue described, but wanted to echo @Sowelu and comment to say fantastic post, @caolbres – really well researched, collated and assembled! Would be great to see more issue-based threads constructed in this way around here.

Hope you get it sorted 🙂!

I'm in the market for a new MBA (still running a 2013 model which is extremely solid, but definitely showing its age by now!) so it's useful to be aware of the potential issues to look out for. I think I'll likely hold out for the rumoured 15" model (🤞 M3), which might sidestep the issue with a design/manufacturing tweak.
 

Wokis

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2012
931
1,276
Stockholm, Sweden
I'll echo and agree with the notion that it is a very well-constructed post!

Though I would say what it can't do is assess how widespread the issue really is or if it's truly a design issue rather than manufacturer's variances or poor QA, which thankfully becomes a topic further into the post.

Furthermore, this thread will likely flock the people who believe they have the issue and it will sound like maybe every screen has it. Like with the 10.5 inch ipad pro "white spot issue" where the thread starts spinning a narrative that it's something every 2017 IPP develops as the thread starts becoming an echo-chamber.

I can say this: I've now spent an unhealthy amount of time looking at white.jpg in full screen from every angle and I can not see any uniformity or "dirty screen" effects. It's a BTO-model. I think you need *a lot* of more data points before making the conclusion if BTO is affected more or not.
 

russell_314

macrumors 603
Feb 10, 2019
6,076
9,046
USA
jack up your brightness with a black canvas, take a picture in the dark and post it here so we can have some benchmark of what a perfect lcd screen is.
Where did I say the word “perfect”. It’s not a $20k display. I’d be willing to bet it would show some backlight bleed under this scenario but IDK for sure.

Also this is just silly when it comes to people doing crazy stuff like this to evaluate a product. I don’t stare at a black screen in complete darkness with the screen brightness turned all the way up. This is not a use case scenario. Most of the time in a normal lighted room the display is about half or maybe one notch above. In a dark room it would be close to minimum.
 
  • Like
Reactions: G5isAlive

Yebubbleman

macrumors 603
May 20, 2010
5,882
2,481
Los Angeles, CA
Hello all!

I’m here to share details on my experience, as well as many other user experiences, with the M2 MacBook Air display (largely inclusive to Build to Order (BTO) models).

As brief as I can be: in 2 months I’ve ordered 4 M2 MBA models (BTO) that have all displayed screen defects to varying degrees.

Dirty Screen Effect​

I’ve personally noticed DSE on 3 different BTO MacBook Air M2 models that are consistent with a display flaw.

Of course the display is not actually dirty!

Instead, the complex layers and lighting of the LCD is uneven, and that non-uniformity is visible in the backlight we see looking at the screen.

In this specific case, a dark horizontal bar across the screen is highly distracting when viewing content.

This effect is most noticeable when scrolling through Google, or scrolling across vertical lines on a white background.

As a graphic creative designer, a clear display is integral to the quality of my work and likely to others who depend on screen quality for their jobs.

View attachment 2172182
(Clockwise) M2 MBA X Ray by Creative Electron/IFIXIT | Best example photo of DSE MBA pic by u/StillAliveZZ | MBA Diagrams


View attachment 2172183
Posts from Reddit & MacForums showing screen defect on mostly BTO M2 MBA & 3 separate, exchanged BTO orders of my own. In some images lighting was altered to enhance the issue.

Keyboard Markings on Display

I’ve recently learned many customers are also reporting an increased observation of keyboard pressure marks on the display.

This is a common issue with MacBook over time, and is expected.

The red flag 🚩🚩🚩 is that these marks appear in the same location of this foam padding meaning there's more of a chance of contact than normal.

View attachment 2172184

Why is this happening?​

I'm confident the problem is from a thin foam padding element inside the display, which exerts pressure onto the screen (or not enough).

Other MacBook teardown reveal this foam padding typically covers the entire display. In the new M2 MBA, the foam padding is a sparse horizontal bar with two additional smaller bars at the top.

This cost cutting foam strip issue could be worsened by a known less reputable manufacturer Wingtech winning the job for assembling the M2 Airs.

View attachment 2172185
IFIXIT MBP Foam Padding, which is likely what the MBA Foam Padding looks like.

DIY Attempt at Fixing​

Applying minimal pressure to the visible dark spots (with a soft microfiber cloth) temporarily resolves the problem.

But once the display/lid weight, orientation or the temperature changes, your tedious work is undone.

Screen Lotto & QC​

Some have humorously mentioned effects varying for better or worse as the “screen lottery”.

I love that, because with many LCD panels it’s true, they all vary in quality.

It's likely the case here that on many of the BTO models, there are issues with QC and how those panels are processed.

Concluding Thoughts.​

  • A cost saving LCD Display Foam Strip is causing poor screen variance in displays.
  • The issue may be worsened by a less reputable bidder (Wingtech) winning the production job for the M2 MBA.
  • BTO MBA’s vs Base MBA’s screens may differ in quality, due to production, assembly and QC.
  • Users can directly manipulate DSE with touch, temporarily relieving effect.
  • Per several recorded experiences, re-ordering is far from a guaranteed fix.
  • I see new posts & comments about this issue to date (03/06)

Test your M2 MBA​

It's very simple to test if your M2 MBA has this issue!

Google Search or Reading with White Background
As your eyes scan, you'll notice grey shading on the screen in the specified areas, in your peripherals.

Scroll through a linear gradient
If you're able to, scrolling through a full screen linear gradient really helps highlight the areas in your peripherals.

Look at different colors Fullscreen
This issue is sometimes noticeable when you change colors of the screen. One person who returned their M2 said the Apple Store employee didn't see the issue until he changed the screen color to a gold/yellow, and it was very clear.

What can be done​

Please reply with your experience as well so that we can all hear each others stories, and get the convo going!

If this has happened to you, I urge you to leave a brief comment on apples product feedback page so they can take note of this and hopefully make changes!

Also please keep in mind, I’m just a dude on the internet. I’m no expert. I’m just here to share my experience, and hopefully generate more conversation and answer a problem that I’ve had for others to read.

I still love Apple, and these things happen. Hopefully we can get the issue fixed!

Links to other posts with same issue​

Reddit

https://www.reddit.com/r/mac/comments/wly5nh
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbook/comments/10h8uqz
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbookair/comments/yemop9
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbook/comments/zrhgs1
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbook/comments/wo4j22
https://www.reddit.com/r/mac/comments/wly5nh
https://www.reddit.com/r/macbookair/comments/1137s92
MacForums

https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...en-uniformity-issue-center-of-screen.2353160/

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/m2-mba-shadows-on-the-screen.2374323/

That's wild!

I'm wondering what about the display panels of BTO models is different. One would think that it's the same part (only differing by color of the exterior) across all configurations. Kudos to you for doing this much research!


Where did I say the word “perfect”. It’s not a $20k display. I’d be willing to bet it would show some backlight bleed under this scenario but IDK for sure.

Also this is just silly when it comes to people doing crazy stuff like this to evaluate a product. I don’t stare at a black screen in complete darkness with the screen brightness turned all the way up. This is not a use case scenario. Most of the time in a normal lighted room the display is about half or maybe one notch above. In a dark room it would be close to minimum.
That was proposed to you to further the rather scientific practice of determining how the quality of the panels that ship for this specific computer differ from each other. You really needn't be so rude about it.

Most people on here dismiss issues like that of the OP because there's not enough evidence to show how widespread a given issue is. The OP GATHERED THAT EVIDENCE! People are chiming in to ACTUALLY determine what this issue is and how common it is! If it's too silly for you, don't participate in the discussion! It's really that simple!
 

ilikewhey

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2014
3,595
4,641
nyc upper east
Where did I say the word “perfect”. It’s not a $20k display. I’d be willing to bet it would show some backlight bleed under this scenario but IDK for sure.
backlight bleed is considered a defect, thats why apple has went on to do screen replacements.
Also this is just silly when it comes to people doing crazy stuff like this to evaluate a product. I don’t stare at a black screen in complete darkness with the screen brightness turned all the way up. This is not a use case scenario. Most of the time in a normal lighted room the display is about half or maybe one notch above. In a dark room it would be close to minimum.
not silly at all, you don't need to have the brightness maxed out to see the backlight bleed, i'm only telling you to do that cause our phone cameras are not as good as human eyes.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.