Apple MacBook Pro owners cry foul: '$6 problem costs $600 to fix'

Broken display cables on MacBook Pro models made in 2016 or later require a whole new display unit.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Some owners of MacBook Pro models made in 2016 and later are calling on Apple to offer an extended warranty because worn internal cables are causing the screen not to light up when opened. 

The key issue comes down to Apple's manufacturing processes for the MacBook Pro screen and the display's flex cables, which iFixit reports are "prone to fatigue and failure" through normal use, such as opening and closing the lid. 

The problem for MacBook Pro owners is that, thanks to Apple making the flex cable part of the screen during manufacturing, it's not possible to fix just the cable. Instead, it requires a whole new display unit, turning a $6 repair job into a $600 one. 

The flex cable connects the display to the display controller board on Apple's thinner MacBook Pro laptops from 2016 and onwards. 

iFixit says the flex cable issue was created by Apple's quest to make thinner devices. 

"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," iFixit notes.  

"But the bigger problem is that, in an apparent effort to make the display as thin as possible, Apple designed the cables as part of the display, so they cannot be replaced."

iFixit notes that Apple could have avoided what's being called 'Flexgate' had it made the cables modular. 

SEE: Apple iOS 12: An insider's guide (free PDF)

The issue is causing worries for owners because the flex cable only becomes flaky over time, often after the device is no longer under warranty. 

An affected MacBook Pro owner called Alex has launched a petition under the Flexgate banner, asking Apple to fix all MacBook Pro models affected by the issue. The other problem the worn flex cable triggers is a stage-light effect that appears at the bottom of the screen. 

"Both of them are caused by a fractured display flex cable due to its design flaw. Most of the laptops started to suffer this issue after the one-year warranty period. And the number of reports increases every day," writes Alex. 

"We kindly ask Apple to launch an extended warranty program addressed to this issue as soon as possible."

Since iFixit posted its report about the flex cable issue, the number of people who've signed the petition has climbed from about 2,000 to just over 4,700. 

ZDNet has asked Apple for a response and will update the story if it receives one.


Because Apple makes the MacBook Pro's flex cable part of the screen, it's impossible to fix just the cable.

Image: James Martin/CNET

Previous and related coverage

iPad Pro bending issues: Apple explains away 'subtle deviations in flatness'

Apple's new support page addresses 2018 iPad Pro's 'imperceptible' bends.

Bendgate Pro? Apple's new iPad is easily bent out of shape

A famous bend-tester finds that Apple's new tablet can be easily snapped in two. Should buyers be worried?

Apple says iPad Pro can replace your computer: But you don't all agree

Readers respond to Apple's five reasons why an iPad Pro can be your next computer.

How the iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard totally replaced my Macbook

Last September I wondered if an iPad - with iOS 11 and the Files app - might replace my MacBook. Since then I've acquired a 10.5-inch iPad Pro and Apple's Smart Keyboard. Any trade-offs? I was surprised.

Think the iPhone is expensive? The iPad Pro has it beat

Apple's new iPad Pro redefines what expensive means for an iOS device, and paves the way for an even more expensive iPhone.

The new iPad Pro has a surprise new feature

Sometimes wishes do indeed become true.

Your old $99 Apple Pencil is now junk

If you're already an iPad Pro user that relies on the Apple Pencil and are planning on upgrading to a new iPad Pro, then Apple has a nasty surprise in store for you.

A brief history of Apple iPad models 2010-2018 (Gallery)

Apple's iPad exploded into the consumer tech market in April of 2010, months ahead of the first Android-powered tablet, and since then the company has sold some 400 million units. Let's take a look at where this device started, and how it has changed and evolved over the years.

iPad Pro 2018: Cheat sheet TechRepublic

In October 2018, Apple updated its enterprise-focused iPad line. Here are the critical details that professionals need to know about the iPad Pro 2018.

Apple iPad Pro, MacBook Air get some iPhone X magic, but challenges remain CNET

Apple gives its iPads and its MacBook Air a makeover in a bid to get you to take them more seriously.

Editorial standards