Has Apple quietly solved MacBook Pro's 'flexgate' flaw that cost users $600 to fix?

A 2mm longer cable may address the 'flexgate' problem in 2018 MacBook Pro models, but Apple still hasn't acknowledged the issue.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Apple still hasn't publicly acknowledged the so-called 'flexgate' issue affecting MacBook Pro models made in 2016 and later. But it may have tacitly admitted to the existence of the design flaw by using a slightly longer display cable in 2018 MacBook Pro models. 

The issue has forced some MacBook Pro owners to replace the entire screen of their laptops due to a damaged flex cable that connects the display and the display controller board under the touch bar. 

Users have been up in arms because replacing the damaged cable would cost $6, but thanks to Apple's decision to solder the cable to the board, the whole display needs to be replaced, costing about $600. And it usually happened about a year after the warranty had expired.  

The cable itself wore out after a few years of opening and closing the lid through normal usage. In particular, repair shops discovered that if the lid was opened beyond 90 degrees the cable would become stretched around the board, causing stress to an already very thin and fragile cable. 

Repair experts at iFixit have confirmed that Apple's 2018 MacBook Pro could address this wear on the flex cable, which is 2mm longer than the cable in earlier models. 

SEE: 17 tips for protecting Windows computers and Macs from ransomware (free PDF)

That doesn't sound like much of a difference, but iFixit teardown engineer Taylor Dixon says the extra length is "significant". 

"This is significant because it gives the backlight cable more room to wrap around the board and not come into contact with the board as the laptop is opened past 90 degrees," said Dixon

However, Dixon also notes that iFixit isn't 100 percent certain about the exact cause of the failure, meaning it could solve the problem or just delay the failure. 

"The longer cable definitely gives more room to breathe around the board, but it's still in such close contact with the board that it's impossible to tell whether it's rubbing on the board at any point."

Previous and related coverage

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.

Adobe patches bug that could blow up MacBook Pro speakers

If you run Adobe Premiere Pro on a MacBook Pro, then it pays to go find the latest update, because it patches a bug that has permanently damaged MacBook Pro speakers.

Apple is having a bad year, and so many of its problems are self-inflicted

2019 started off bad for Apple, and things feel like they've gone from bad to worse to shocking over the course of a few weeks.

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