16-Inch MacBook Pro Features New 'Lid Angle Sensor'

Earlier this week, do-it-yourself repair website iFixit shared its full teardown of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, providing a closer look at its scissor switch keyboard, new thermal architecture, and other design tweaks.

As it turns out, there is one more change. In an internal document to Apple Authorized Service Providers, obtained by MacRumors, Apple indicates the 16-inch MacBook Pro includes a new "lid angle sensor" that presumably monitors the opening and closing of the notebook and the precise position of the lid.

MacRumors reached out to iFixit to investigate, leading them to uncover a small sensor facing the left-side hinge of the notebook. There is also a magnet embedded in the hinge itself, with an arrow indicating polarity. iFixit has updated its teardown with photos of the sensor, which we've shared below.

Photo: iFixit

While previous-generation MacBook Pro models have a Hall effect sensor that determines when the lid is closed for sleep/wake purposes, the lid angle sensor in the 16-inch MacBook Pro appears to be more sophisticated.

Apple's service document does not provide any clues as to why the sensor was redesigned, but iFixit speculates that it could provide a clever way for Apple to track how often the lid was opened, closed, or adjusted in cases where the display or frayed flex cables need to be repaired — think "Flexgate."

Photo: iFixit

The lid angle sensor could also be for an unannounced macOS feature, although again, this is merely speculation.

Of note, in the event of a display repair, Apple's service document indicates that technicians must calibrate both the display and the lid angle sensor in order for the repair to be considered complete. If we learn any additional information about the sensor, we will be sure to provide an update.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tag: iFixit
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

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19 weeks ago
It may also, for future models, be used to help FaceID to determine the angle at which the face is likely at for quicker login.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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19 weeks ago
This is probably the "pervert privacy protection" feature. If it senses the lid closing super rapidly, it closes all browser windows and scrubs the hard drive of all your porn.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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19 weeks ago
My 2015 MBP has a magnetic sensor on the left side. My TI2 pen has magnets to hold the cap on. One day I placed my pen next to my laptop and the screen shut off because the magnet caused it to think the lid was closed.

My coworker has a 2018 MBP that does not respond to the pen. However, when he disconnects from his external monitors with his laptop screen up, his computer will completely lockup, as if it thinks the lid is closed. Opening it and closing it has no effect, and the trackpad goes completely dead (no haptic - just like my laptop when the pen is placed beside it).

My theory: I know other people with the same issue when disconnecting from hubs/docks. I guarantee more than a few have gone to the Genius Bar about this issue. This sensor is so the machine knows if the display is actually closed or not so it does not lock up for those and similarly-affected users.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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19 weeks ago
Might simply because they couldn't fit large enough magnets with the new smaller bezels.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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19 weeks ago
Interesting. Maybe a feature this sensor could be used for could be a setting where a user can set exactly how far closed they want the lid to be when the display turns off.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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19 weeks ago
Wasn't there something about bouncing the sound from the speakers off the display to improve audio quality or am I imagining that? Either a patent or as part of the introduction of the 2016 or something, it's a bit of a vague memory.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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