Apple offering MacBook Pro 'Flexgate' fix - how to check if your MacBook Pro is eligible for fix

; Date: May 22, 2019

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

Apple is finally admitting to the Flexgate problem affecting MacBook Pro's sold between October 2016 and February 2018. The problem was that the display cable was too short and, after repeated opening and closing of the display, the display would stop working. After many months of not saying a thing about this issue, Apple has launched the MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program in which affected laptops will receive a free fix. Curiously, earlier reports by MacBook Pro owners suggest the Flexgate problem exists in 2015 MacBook Pro's, but Apple is limiting the repair effort to 2016 MacBook Pro's.

The (www.apple.com) MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program claims that a "limited number" of laptops were affected. Why is it that every time a company has been found to make a mistake, there is a limited number of people affected? Of course there's a limited amount, Apple only sold so many laptops during the time period so of course the set of affected people is limited to the owners of these laptops.

Anyway Apple describes the problem thusly:

  • Display backlight continuously or intermittently shows vertical bright areas along the entire bottom of the screen
  • Display backlight stops working completely

And, yes, this is exactly what has been reported.

How do you tell if your MacBook Pro is eligible? Check the About This Mac window to see whether it is one of these models:

  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

So.. if you have a MacBook Pro with this behavior, but it's not one of those models, Apple says No other Mac notebook models are part of this program. Earlier reports by MacBook Pro owners suggest this problem affects the 2015 MacBook Pro's as well.

If your MacBook Pro is one of those models and you'd already paid to have the display replaced, then you're eligible for a refund.

Other information such as the process to get a repair is on the Apple website, see the link above.

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.

It March 2019 it was discovered Apple had quietly inserted a fix into 2018 MacBook Pro's, when owners discovered the display cable was a scootch longer: Apple quietly fixes MacBook Pro 'Flexgate' design flaw -- leaving owners of 2015-2017 MBP's hanging

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.