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MacBook Pro screen cable issues spawn 'flexgate' petition

Owners are complaining about backlight problems in the MacBook Pro 2016 and later, possibly because of the cable connection design.

The thin flex cables connecting the screen to the display controller wrap around the hinge, so are affected every time you move the lid.

If you're having backlight issues with the screen on your MacBook Pro (2016 or later) -- ranging from dark areas near the bottom backlight LEDs to a completely dead backlight -- you've got at least 2,500 friends. That's how many people have signed a petition so far requesting that Apple extend its warranty duration to cover the screen replacement necessary to fix it.

According to the petition, under normal use, the laptop display can begin to display a "stage light" effect at the bottom when on high brightness or a complete backlight shutdown when the lid is open beyond a relatively low angle. The petition states the problems are "caused by a fractured display flex cable due to its design flaw." (We haven't seen the problem in any of our systems.) 

iFixit shows that all the current MacBook Pro models use a thin, fragile cable. And rather than routing the cable through the hinge, as most laptops do, it's wrapped around it, which puts excessive stress on the wires when you open and close the lid, according to iFixit.

While the cable connecting the controller to the display is a frequent failure point in laptops, two years seems a bit soon for it to be happening. In order to keep the MacBook Pro as thin as it is, the cable is actually an extension of the display. That makes what's usually a relatively simple fix an expensive pain, requiring a complete panel replacement at an authorized outlet.

Thus far, no legal actions over the issue appear to have been filed. Apple faces lawsuits on a regular basis, for complaints about iPhone slowdowns, screen specs for the iPhone X, XS and XS Maxswelling Apple Watch batteries, iPhone 6 "touch disease" and failing MacBook keyboards, to name just a few recent ones.

And there always seems to be something new on the horizon. Over the past two weeks, for instance, reports have surfaced about more problems with the MacBook keyboard -- the "e" key randomly repeating a key press.

Apple didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

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