'Flexgate' Display Issues Affecting 2016 MacBook Pro and Later

Some 2016 and later MacBook Pro models appear to be displaying issues with uneven backlighting caused by a delicate and easy-to-break flex cable, which has been dubbed "flexgate."

Impacted machines can feature uneven lighting at the bottom of the screen, which looks a bit like a "stage light" effect, and the display can eventually fail entirely.

Image via MacRumors reader SourceSunToM

What's the cause?


According to repair site iFixit, which first highlighted the problem, 2016 and later MacBook Pro machines are using thin, fragile display flex cables that are prone to malfunctioning with repeated closing and opening of the MacBook Pro's display.

The flex cables are loosely wrapped around the display controller board and when the MacBook's display is opened, the cables are pulled tighter, leading to tears and problems over time.

Image via iFixit

iFixit says the backlight cable is usually the one to break first, leading to backlighting issues and eventual display failure.

Which models are affected?


The issue can impact any 13 or 15-inch MacBook Pro model manufactured in 2016, 2017, or 2018, though it appears to be affecting Touch Bar models more frequently.

Apple introduced a redesigned MacBook Pro in 2016, and this was the first to use the new flex cable. Older MacBook Pro models are not impacted because they use a more durable wire that was routed through the hinge instead of around it, mitigating the stress of repeated display openings.

The new MacBook Air models could also eventually be impacted. While they use a different display cable design, iFixit says the cables also wrap over the display board and could potentially exhibit the same failure. It's not clear yet if that will happen, however.

How long does it take for the problem to show up?


When you first buy a MacBook Pro, the flex cable functions perfectly. With repeated closing and opening of the MacBook Pro's lid, however, the durability can decline, leading to the display issues.

Since it takes time for the cable to break down, machines experiencing this issue generally do not display it for several months to years after purchase. Because it takes time to show up, affected MacBook Pro models may no longer be under the one-year warranty.

What do I do if my MacBook Pro has this issue?


If your MacBook Pro has this display issue, the first step is visiting an Apple retail store or contacting Apple support.

Unfortunately, when this problem surfaces, many MacBook Pro models are older than a year and no longer covered by the standard one-year warranty. Those who have an extended AppleCare+ warranty will be able to get their repairs covered by Apple.

Customers who do not have AppleCare+ may be required to pay out of pocket for repairs. While it's a simple cable that needs replacing, because of the way the MacBook Pro is designed, the flex cable is integrated into the display and requires the entire display assembly to be replaced.

This can cost upwards of $600 for customers who are out of the warranty period.

There have been reports of customers no longer under the one-year warranty that have been offered free or reduced cost repairs from Apple, but others have had to pay full price. Without a consistent policy in place, repair outcomes will vary.

How many people are affected?


Just how many MacBook Pro models are experiencing this issue remains unknown, but a growing number of complaints have been surfacing over the course of the last few months. There have been complaints on the MacRumors forums and the Apple Support Communities.

What does Apple have to say?


Apple hasn't commented on the issue at this point in time, and there is no repair program in place. Impacted users have started a website and a petition with the aim of getting Apple to offer free repairs via an extended warranty program.

Discuss this issue


If you have a MacBook Pro experiencing this flexcable issue, check out the ongoing discussion on the MacRumors forums where are users are sharing their experiences with Apple support, replacement machines, repair costs, and more.

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Top Rated Comments

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3 weeks ago
It gets harder and harder to justify paying 2-3k for a macbook pro every year. Shouldve bought the 2015 last year when they were really cheap.
Rating: 16 Votes
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3 weeks ago

OK now this is a serious problem unlike complaints about the keyboard which were really more about hygiene and personal habits (eating while using it) than anything else.

Absolute nonsense.
Rating: 10 Votes
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3 weeks ago
Looks like repair program’s back on the menu, boys!

Rating: 10 Votes
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3 weeks ago

I’m really glad I bought my “Early 2015” MacBook Pro when I did. It seems like it was the last of the well built and trouble free MacBooks. I haven’t had a problem with the display, keyboard or anything else in almost 4 years. If Apple keeps up with this poor quality trend, this will be my first and last MacBook.


That's very interesting that you say this.
I am typing on a 2013 Apple Macbook Pro 15 Retina, that has never needed a repair, has only 4 battery discharge cycles, and has been the greatest laptop I've ever owned.

Tomorrow morning, I am purchasing a mint condition 2015 Macbook Pro 15 Retina, 2.8GHz with the 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM laptop which was kept in a case for its whole life. I really like that the 2012 - 2015 Macbook Pros are still serviceable by users, hard drives are removable and upgradeable, data recovery ports are in tack, and repairs are relatively easy.

The new 2016+ Macbook Pros are engineered to be non-repairable 100%, and they have factory defective designs (faulty display design issues, keyboard issues, no internal data recovery port, non removable storage, lack of legacy ports, garbage keyboard when it does happen to work, soldered in storage, no magsafe power plugs, no illuminated apple logo, no function keys, and the list goes on and on). I feel so terrible for folks that spent $3k - $6k+ for a notebook that has constant hardware defects.

I am thankful that I didn't follow everyone else and "upgrade" to the 2016 line the minute they were released. I'm seeing some on craigslist which were sold for $3k going for around $1,XXX range. Some people out there are starting to become smart. Their extended applecare + warranty on 2016 units will fail this year in 2019, and they will be stuck with massive repair bills, not IF but WHEN.

I will let go of my 2013, 2015 Macbook Pro Retina laptops, once I'm dead and/or killed.

As of now, I'm not sure I would even take a 2016+ Macbook Pro *for free,* due to the faulty and unreliable hardware which is guaranteed to fail someday depending upon usage. If given one for free, I would quickly sell it to some unsuspecting idiot.
Rating: 9 Votes
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3 weeks ago
Had this happen to my 2016 about a month after having the keyboard replaced. That was after owning it for 4 months. Then a month after having the screen replaced the logic board went. I demanded and eventually for a new 2017 version. That one after 6 months the ssd went and they replaced it a long with the logic board also (although I think the logic board was because the geniuses don't know what they are doing). Now I got an email saying my ssd might be prone to failing and I am not sure if they mean the one I had that already failed or the new one also. Piece of crap computer
Rating: 9 Votes
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3 weeks ago

No. I’m sorry but what I said is true. Every time someone posted a video or picture of their messed up keyboard it was covered in grime. Try again.


with my 2018 MacBook Pro I have had two keys that've started malfunctioning. using my computer for work in the labs and sometimes in the clean rooms. Apple made some bad engineering choices, full stop.

Not everything can be blamed on the user... It's just a question of doing good engineering, for example my old ThinkPad from 2007 survives everything because it was designed by people that placed function over shaving an extra mm off the thickness. Nor did it cost $3000 and it never had any keyboard problems (The screen was awful though, But then again it's a 12-year-old computer)
Rating: 8 Votes
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3 weeks ago

Have fun when the screen battery fails to charge.

Like when a glued-in MacBook battery dies? Or an iPad battery?
Replacements on wearable parts is one thing. Expensive $600-$800 top lid replacements because a speck of dust has rendered your unremovable keyboard inoperable is something else.
Rating: 8 Votes
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3 weeks ago
Wow. Apple should at least replace this ones for free. Microsoft replaced my surface pro 4 after three years for free because of the flickering screen issue. I would expect Apple to do the same.
Rating: 7 Votes
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3 weeks ago
The real tragedy here is MacRumors’ continued insistence on using “-gate” any time a product defect pops up.

Seriously, give it a rest.
Rating: 7 Votes
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3 weeks ago
Every time someone puts "gate" at the end of a word for cheap PR, a Nixon gets his wings.
Rating: 5 Votes
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