Apple decided to change a specific key internal part in the 2016 and newer MacBook Pro, and as a result some owners are running into a frustrating hardware issue.
It’s been dubbed “Flexgate”, and the repair site iFixit has a rundown of the issue which it published on Tuesday. According to the report, Apple’s decision to switch to “thin, fragile flex cables” in the 2016 and newer MacBook Pro models (especially those with the Touch Bar), switching away from the more durable options it had been using in years prior. That change, according to the report, leads to faster deprecation of the cables with repeated openings and closings of the top lid on the laptop.
“When it first debuted, the design seemed fine. But as always, the devil is in the details. Apple opted for thin, fragile flex cables as opposed to the beefier wire cables used in previous designs that could be routed through the hinge instead of wrapped around it, helping mitigate the stress of repeated openings and closings.”
As the owner of the laptop opens and closes the lid over time, those cables can fray and break. That will lead to backlight issues with the display. It can produce what some call a “stage light effect”, which basically darkens some sections of the bottom of the display, and brightens others. It looks like theatre stage lighting.
And here comes the hardware integration problems, as one might expect to crop up with an Apple-branded piece of technology these days. For customers who have brought their plagued MacBook Pro into an Apple store for repair, they’ve discovered that Apple integrated the flex cables into the display, which means they cannot be replaced individually. So, repairs can cost upwards of $600 when it’s all said and done.
It sounds like Apple’s change in the flex cables is only in the MacBook Pro models (for now), but the new MacBook Air might not be immune to a similar issue down the road:
“For now, the issue is only affecting the Touch Bar generation of MacBook Pro. The new MacBook Air doesn’t use the exact same display cable design, but it looks to have a similar vulnerability—its cables wrap over their display board, and appear to be part of the display. We’ll have to wait to see if they exhibit the same cable failure, but color us “not-surprised” if they do.”
This is not a good look for Apple. Companies aren’t immune to complaints that they design products to fail over time so that people have to buy new devices at a later date. Apple is certainly no stranger to this, especially following “batterygate”. However, this sounds almost worse because these cables are thin and fragile by design, meaning they will probably fail down the road, after repeated usage. Apple’s switch to a less sturdy cable in one of its most expensive devices is ridiculous across the board, but especially with this latest report coming to the surface.
Hopefully Apple does the right thing here for customers and enacts an extended warranty situation for this particular problem. Because otherwise this just looks really bad for the company.