Experts dub MacBook Pro screen problem “Flexgate”

Readers will remember that last year, Apple’s MacBook Pro made headlines for reportedly throttling the performance of its Intel Core i9 processor under heavy workloads. The firm acknowledged the problem and rolled out a macOS update to address it.

The firm’s Pro laptop is now, however, facing another problem: the lighting at the bottom of the screen sometimes appears fragmented and uneven. iFixit went as far as dubbing the issue “Flexgate” in a report and said that it’s caused by the flexible ribbon cables that are utilised to connect the controller with the screen.

The iFixit blog said that Apple began using a couple of ribbon cables to connect the controller (which is concealed below the Touch Bar) with the screen in 2016. These cables are kept in place by spring-loaded covers – so every time someone opens the MacBook Pro’s lid, they are pulled tighter.

While the laptop is relatively new, this isn’t a major problem, but all the stress caused by opening and closing the lid over time causes severe wear and tear, and the wires eventually tear down. Once this happens, the display’s backlight cable starts to produce uneven lighting, sometimes referred to as the “stage light” effect.

The problem gets worse if a person opens the screen more than halfway, and sometimes the display can give out completely. For owners, this means having to pay for a screen replacement instead of the minor cost of replacing two wires.

The report added: “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.”

The Flexgate issue affects Apple MacBook Pros that were made after 2016, e.g. the October 2016 and 2018 models with the Touch Bar feature.

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