Apple quietly fixes MacBook Pro 'Flexgate' design flaw -- leaving owners of 2015-2017 MBP's hanging

By: (plus.google.com) +David Herron; Date: March 7, 2019

Tags: Apple »»»» Apple Hardware Mistakes »»»» Apple Flexgate »»»» MacBook Pro

Apple's quest for ever-thinner-lighter computers led Apple Engineers to a design flaw in recent MacBook Pro models. The flaw caused the display to stop working reliably after a few months of use, in that one would open the laptop lid and the display would be fine until opened "too wide" at which point the display would shut off. In other cases the display had a theater-lighting effect. Yesterday it is reported from several sources that Apple has fixed this problem in the 2018 MacBook Pro model year, but is not even admitting to the problem in 2015-2017 models..

The Flexgate problem

The problem -- see Apple MacBook Pro design flaw, dubbed Flexgate, makes display prematurely fail -- was determined by independent researchers to be that the display cable cable partially broke after a few months or more of use.

Starting with the 2015 model year, Apple used a flexible ribbon cable to connect from the logic board to the display. In previous years Apple had used a different design which was less likely to break. The ribbon cable was very short, barely long enough for the task, and did not survive multiple flexings.

To make things worse, this ribbon cable was an unremovable part of the display unit, and could not be replaced on its own. That made a failed ribbon cable a $500 replacement of the entire display, rather than a $5 replacement of just the cable.

All kinds of details are available in my earlier report on this.

Apple fixes Flexgate?

According to (ifixit.org) iFixit, one of their readers noticed the display cable on their 2018 MacBook Pro was longer than in previous models. That led iFixit staff to study the issue, and indeed the display cable in the 13 inch and 15 inch 2018 MacBook Pro was 2mm longer than the cables in matching 2015-2017 MacBook Pro's.

The ever-so-slightly-longer (2mm) gives a bit more flex to the cable making it unlikely to break.

Since Apple has never acknowledged the Flexgate problem, it is not known whether Apple supplied a longer cable in all 2018 MacBook Pro's. And of course no repair policy has been announced by Apple for owners of older MacBook Pro's.

Apple's intransigence regarding Flexgate

The iFixit blog post goes on to lay blame at Apple's feet.

First, iFixit had awarded these MacBook Pro models a repairability score of 1 out of 10. Given that score the Flexgate problem is not surprising, nor is the expense of repairing a broken display cable.

Second, iFixit notes that the longer cable indicates that Apple knew about the problem. Their engineers would not have lengthened the cable without a reason. But, knowing about the problem did not translate into disclosing the problem with the public or offering free repairs.

Third, many people claim Apple has deleted discussion threads in their support issues area related to Flexgate. Take this point and the previous together, and it indicates Apple is sweeping the problem under the rug rather than honestly dealing with it.

iFixit suggests this petition drive: (www.change.org) https://www.change.org/p/apple-fix-all-macbook-pro-2016-and-later-with-stage-light-effect-or-backlight-shutdown-flexgate

Or to send a message direct to Apple: (www.apple.com) https://www.apple.com/feedback/macbookpro.html

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