MacBook Pro 'stage lighting' problem caused by tearing of thin cable integrated into displ...

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 22
Repair advocate iFixit suggests that all of Apple's Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pros may be vulnerable to fatigue failure of a thin flex-cable connecting the motherboard to the display.

MacBook Pro display cables


The cables wrap over the controller board, and though they're secured by spring-loaded covers they're subject to stress every time a Pro is opened or closed, according to iFixit. This is reportedly causing tears, most often hitting the backlight cable first and creating a "stage light" effect. The backlight may eventually start going out completely when opening a Pro's lid past 40 degrees.

The culprit is said to be Apple's use of fragile flex cables instead of the wire cables used in earlier MacBook models. Though the current cables are thinner, wire cables can be routed through a hinge instead of around it, reducing wear.

The blog post suggests that the primary issue is Apple's choice to build cables into the display rather than as a discrete and easily replaceable cable. With the present design, if one breaks the whole panel has to be replaced, which can cost several hundred dollars out of warranty.

Though some people have been able to convince Apple to pay for replacements, others are being rejected or having to shell out. Several people have started threads on Apple's support site but had them deleted, iFixit said.

One Mac owner has launched a petition calling on Apple to offer an extended warranty program. As of this writing, over 2,500 people have signed.

The issue doesn't immediately appear to be affecting any other Macs. iFixit said it is concerned about the 2018 MacBook Air, which doesn't use an identical cable design but still wraps them over the controller board and merges them with the display.

Service data collected over more than 25 Apple-authorized locations and Genius Bars by AppleInsider doesn't suggest that there is any increase in display-related failures in the 2015 MacBook Pro and earlier, versus the 2016 re-design and newer. However, a display cable rupture as postulated by iFixit in any model new or old isn't specifically identified in the data beyond a repair involving the display but not a de-lamination of the Retina Display coating.

The service data doesn't prove that there isn't a problem, as the redesign in 2016 may have swapped one failure mode for another.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    So... as “horrible” as it sounds, it’s not worse than the previous generation, the Retina’s display failure rate overall is about on-par, just the cable in current generation is bit weaker.
    edited January 22
  • Reply 2 of 41
    anomeanome Posts: 1,237member

    Don't think I have this problem, but the vague terms "Stage lighting effect" doesn't really tell me what I'm looking for.

    Also, I note the iFixit link labels this as "Flexgate". Beyond the overuse of the "-gate" suffix, especially when associated with Apple, but also for anything that doesn't involve Presidentially sanctioned break-ins to hotels, it sounds like they're trying to stir up the controversy.

    Of the 2500 signatures on the petition, how many actually have the problem, and how many are just signing on to stick it to Apple? Don't get me wrong, if this is a serious problem, then Apple should be fixing it, but I do tend to get suspicious that some of these things are over-reported.

    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 41
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,562member
    anome said:

    Don't think I have this problem, but the vague terms "Stage lighting effect" doesn't really tell me what I'm looking for.


    anantksundaramanomeavon b7bageljoeytyler82ksechentaiboypscooter63randominternetpersoncommand_f
  • Reply 4 of 41
    My 2016 model has had the screen replaced twice and the keyboard/top replaced once.
    The redesign didn't fix problems with the screen, it just moved the problem apparently.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,807member
    More than half the problem could have been solved if Apple offered both with and without touch bar Macbook Pros People love MAC laptops but lately in the name of design changes, has gotten less of value. Hope, that changes in 2019 Macbook Pros release with Intel's Sunny Cove 10nm processors and Apple back to basics for Macbook Pro design.
  • Reply 6 of 41
    "Several people have started threads on Apple's support site but had them deleted, iFixit said." if that is true then that is shocking behaviour by Apple's forum team. Is there any evidence like screenshots?
    caladanianGeorgeBMacBigDann
  • Reply 7 of 41
    At some point thinness comes at the expense of durability. When you make every component the minimum size you're gonna get problems like this and like the keyboard issues. Whether this one is real I don't know but the logic of going with thinner cables seems to fit with Apple's current pattern.  
    muthuk_vanalingamcommand_f
  • Reply 8 of 41
    I had this "stage-lighting" issue crop up with my 2nd gen iPad Pro 12.9.

    Apple replaced it.
    edited January 22 caladanianmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 41
    netroxnetrox Posts: 704member
    This is where I think it's a huge mistake to make a switch because the costs that may incur as a result of defect is likely more than the cost of producing a computer itself. 

    Apple screwed up this one big time. 
     
    BigDann
  • Reply 10 of 41
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,194administrator
    "Several people have started threads on Apple's support site but had them deleted, iFixit said." if that is true then that is shocking behaviour by Apple's forum team. Is there any evidence like screenshots?
    We didn’t have any problems finding forum threads about it.
    GeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingamcommand_fwlymjony0
  • Reply 11 of 41
    anomeanome Posts: 1,237member
    mazda 3s said:
    anome said:

    Don't think I have this problem, but the vague terms "Stage lighting effect" doesn't really tell me what I'm looking for.

    <image snipped>
    Thanks for that. I did eventually find it by following a few links from the iFixit page above. So far, so good, but it's something to keep an eye out for in future.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 12 of 41
    "Several people have started threads on Apple's support site but had them deleted, iFixit said." if that is true then that is shocking behaviour by Apple's forum team. Is there any evidence like screenshots?
    We didn’t have any problems finding forum threads about it.
    That sounds like something manipulative.
    edited January 22 GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 41
    At some point thinness comes at the expense of durability. When you make every component the minimum size you're gonna get problems like this and like the keyboard issues. Whether this one is real I don't know but the logic of going with thinner cables seems to fit with Apple's current pattern.  

    I don’t buy it. There are laptops as thin or thinner than Apple laptops that don’t seem to have all these problems.
  • Reply 14 of 41
    mazda 3s said:
    anome said:

    Don't think I have this problem, but the vague terms "Stage lighting effect" doesn't really tell me what I'm looking for.


    Very Hollywood. I like it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 41
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 1,014member
    "Several people have started threads on Apple's support site but had them deleted, iFixit said." if that is true then that is shocking behaviour by Apple's forum team. Is there any evidence like screenshots?
    We didn’t have any problems finding forum threads about it.
    Yeah, but did you find the deleted ones? One statement does not disprove the other :-)

    Not so sure it’s shocking behaviour in any event, those threads might have violated other site standards, like ad hominem (which is forbidden here too but not heavily policed).
    pscooter63command_fwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 41
    At some point thinness comes at the expense of durability. When you make every component the minimum size you're gonna get problems like this and like the keyboard issues. Whether this one is real I don't know but the logic of going with thinner cables seems to fit with Apple's current pattern.  

    I don’t buy it. There are laptops as thin or thinner than Apple laptops that don’t seem to have all these problems.
    It has nothing to do with thickness.  Besides that, how many laptops you know have that much popularity?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 41
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,194administrator
    djsherly said:
    "Several people have started threads on Apple's support site but had them deleted, iFixit said." if that is true then that is shocking behaviour by Apple's forum team. Is there any evidence like screenshots?
    We didn’t have any problems finding forum threads about it.
    Yeah, but did you find the deleted ones? One statement does not disprove the other :-)

    Not so sure it’s shocking behaviour in any event, those threads might have violated other site standards, like ad hominem (which is forbidden here too but not heavily policed).
    I wasn't trying to disprove iFixit's statement. Maybe there were deleted threads, and at this point that would be impossible to prove or disprove given the alleged deletion of them. However, there are also threads about it that haven't been deleted, so Apple clearly isn't nuking them all.
    fastasleepcommand_f
  • Reply 18 of 41
    I found a trend here.  Some people are good at pointing out why things failed, but not so much at figuring out how it means overall.

    While we may think Touch Bar’s is unreliable in every way, yet from what the data suggests, it’s quite the opposite (and that includes the keyboard).  If that’s the case, there’s no reason to say the old ones are better, they just have different weaknesses, but still more reliable machines.
    edited January 22 watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 41
    NotMuch-You?NotMuch-You? Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    The "problem" is that the fix requires replacing the display, not a simple cable replacement (like previous displays, I guess?).
    command_f80s_Apple_Guy
  • Reply 20 of 41
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,194administrator
    The "problem" is that the fix requires replacing the display, not a simple cable replacement (like previous displays, I guess?).
    AFAIK, the last MacBook Pro that had a replaceable display cable was the non-Retina 2012 MacBook Pro. It also doesn't appear that it is a widespread problem.
    GeorgeBMaccommand_f
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