Apple Says MacBook Air With Retina Display Can Exhibit Anti-Reflective Coating Issues, Unclear if Eligible for Free Repairs [Updated]

Apple this week acknowledged that MacBook Air models with Retina displays can exhibit anti-reflective coating issues, as indicated in a memo shared with Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by MacRumors.

"Retina displays on some MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers can exhibit anti-reflective (AR) coating issues," the memo states.

Apple's internal service documentation for this issue previously only mentioned MacBook Pro and discontinued 12-inch MacBook models with Retina displays, but the MacBook Air is now mentioned in at least two places. Apple added a Retina display to the MacBook Air in October 2018 and all models of the notebook have featured one since.

MacBook Pro anti reflective wearing off
Apple has a free repair program for the anti-reflective coating issue in place internally, but it has yet to add any MacBook Air models to its list of eligible models, despite mentioning it elsewhere in the documentation. However, with Apple at least acknowledging that the MacBook Air can exhibit the issue, customers may have a valid argument for at least a free in-warranty repair.

The eligibility list remains the same as in December 2019 for now:

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2015)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)
  • MacBook (12-inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (12-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (12-inch, Early 2017)

Apple began the repair program in October 2015 after some MacBook and MacBook Pro users experienced an issue with the anti-reflective coating wearing off or delaminating on Retina displays. Apple has never posted the repair program to its website, opting instead to handle the matter more quietly. For that reason, your mileage may vary.

Over the years, the issue led to an online petition with nearly 5,000 signatures, a Facebook group with over 17,000 members, and complaints across the Apple Support Communities, Reddit, and our own MacRumors forums. A so-called "Staingate" website was set up to share photos of affected Mac notebooks.

Apple Stores outside of China and many Apple Authorized Service Providers are closed right now, but customers can visit support.apple.com for service and support.

Update: Apple has informed us that the MacBook Air, Retina or otherwise, is not part of this program and does not exhibit this issue, adding that this was a mistake on an internal document that has since been fixed.

Update 2: A technician at an Apple Authorized Service Provider disagrees with Apple, informing us that they have serviced several 2018 MacBook Air units that exhibited anti-reflective coating issues.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

MacFather Avatar
9 months ago
Deleted.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bollman Avatar
9 months ago
Apple, just skip that coating...
I've resorted to scrubbing it off completely on computers where Apple no longer wants to do screen replacements. Works just as fine, no real downsides except maybe if using it outside.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nvmls Avatar
9 months ago


I can’t believe that, after 8 years of having this issue, they haven’t managed how to adress it ??‍♂️

Why would they? It's not the only "issue" they've ignored.

Butterfly keyboard took them only 4 gens just to end up going back to the previous design, same thermal issues, old MB chargers always fried the same way until dongle-life a.k.a "the future" was imposed, some of their cables still fry anyways, magic mouse can't even be used while charging in 2020 since latest release, ipad still bendable, the touch bar is a joke, Catalina has been a mess, many of their stock apps fail to do the basic stuff they're supposed to, UI has gotten stagnant to a point almost any third party app looks better.

They don't care, Apple users buy blindly and they exploit that, which from a business perspective is just brilliant. Many people even think they are buying a "premium" device which is laughable considering they've been cutting corners, convoluting product lines & penny pinching more than ever since Cook.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
scrapesleon Avatar
9 months ago
Can we get a proper functioning laptop Apple Without any issues is that so hard
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Populus Avatar
9 months ago
I can’t believe that, after 8 years of having this issue, they haven’t managed how to adress it ??‍♂️

On the other hand, iPads have anti reflective coating as well, and those hold up pretty well... interesting.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mi7chy Avatar
9 months ago
Apple should make the coating optional for people who don't want design for obsolescence and being charged for a costly display replacement down the road.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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