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iFixit: Apple MacBook Pro stage light issue turns "a $6 problem into a $600 disaster"

Several users have complained of MacBook Pros exhibiting the 'stage light' effect. (Source: Alex P. on Change.org)
Several users have complained of MacBook Pros exhibiting the 'stage light' effect. (Source: Alex P. on Change.org)
Several users have complained of a 'stage light' anomaly in their MacBook Pro displays. iFixit wrote in a blog post that it has identified the cause of the issue and attributes it to the manner in which the display cables connect to the display controller beneath the Touch Bar. This design causes the cables to tear overtime giving the uneven backlighting effect when the display is opened beyond a certain angle. More worrisome, however, is the fact that getting it repaired can prove to be a costly affair.
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Apple's latest MacBook Pros are not new to incongruous design and technical choices and the latest complaint from many MacBook Pro users is being described as 'flexgate'. MacBook Pros suffering from flexgate are prone to several problems with the display, prominent of them being a 'stage light' issue that is seen at the bottom of the screen that often leads to a total shutdown of the display's backlight after opening the display at a certain angle.

iFixit took a look at the issue and attributed it to the fatiguing of the thin flexible ribbon cables that connect the display to the display controller board beneath the Touch Bar. Apparently, the manner in which the cables wrap around the controller board can subject them to stress everytime the laptop's lid is opened and closed resulting in their wear and tear including that of the backlight cable. This results in the 'stage light' effect and eventually the backlight stops working when the display is opened at more than a 40-degree angle.

Apple's quest for thinness has made them to opt for these fragile flexible cables instead of the traditional wire cables that were routed through the hinge in MacBook Pros prior to 2016. Compounding the problem is that these thin flex cables are part of the display assembly and cannot be repaired independent of a total display replacement that will burn a US$600 hole in the pocket for what is effectively a US$6 problem. 

A user, Alex, has started a petition on his site flexgate.me requesting Apple to announce an extended warranty program to address this issue. According to the site, the all MacBook Pros with Touch Bar from 2016 onwards are affected. These include —

Users who have experienced this issue after the warranty period say that they had to cough up the dough to get the display replaced at the local Genius Bar. The issue seems to be widespread, but Apple is yet to offer free service for what is clearly a QC issue on its part.

Alex's petition has currently gathered around 5,000 signatures so far. If you're one of those affected, we suggest you add your name to it as well. Here's hoping Apple yields to those who have spent quite a fortune on their MacBook Pro purchases.

Are you affected by backlight issues on your MacBook Pro? Let us know in the comments below.

The fragile flexible display cables around the display controller in the new MacBook Pros with Touch Bar can wear out overtime as they are pulled taut. (Source: iFixit)
The fragile flexible display cables around the display controller in the new MacBook Pros with Touch Bar can wear out overtime as they are pulled taut. (Source: iFixit)

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Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam - Managing Editor - 1455 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
Though a cell and molecular biologist by training, I have been drawn towards computers from a very young age ever since I got my first PC in 1998. My passion for technology grew quite exponentially with the times, and it has been an incredible experience from being a much solicited source for tech advice and troubleshooting among family and friends to joining Notebookcheck in 2017 as a professional tech journalist. Now, I am a Lead Editor at Notebookcheck covering news and reviews encompassing a wide gamut of the technology landscape for Indian and global audiences. When I am not hunting for the next big story or taking complex measurements for reviews, you can find me unwinding to a nice read, listening to some soulful music, or trying out a new game.
contact me via: @Geeky_Vaidy
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 01 > iFixit: Apple MacBook Pro stage light issue turns "a $6 problem into a $600 disaster"
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2019-01-23 (Update: 2019-01-23)