What Is Flexgate? MacBook Pros Have a New Problem

Antennagate. Batterygate. Bendgate. And now Flexgate? The latest potential controversy involving Apple hardware is all about MacBook Pro screens.

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Detailed yesterday (Jan. 22) in a post by DIY gadget repair site iFixit, the issue involves the wearing down of flexible display cables inside of Touch Bar model MacBook Pros (2016 and later). iFixit says this creates inconsistent backlighting at the bottom of the screen, an effect sometimes called a Stage Lighting.

We know there are a lot of terms and factors there, but just so we’re clear: “Failure of flexible display cables” means “Flexgate.”

Since the problem seems to creep up on users after many openings and closings of their MacBook Pro’s lid, placing wear and tear on its flexible display cables each one of those times, some users find themselves out-of-warranty by the time they realize their screen is on the fritz.

That out-of-pocket repair cost isn’t cheap. According to iFixit, since Apple opted to build these flexible display cables into the screen, what could be a simple cable replacement and $6 part cost is now a $600 affair.

More bad news: Though this Flexgate problem is so far only found to be associated with the Touch Bar models of the MacBook Pro, iFixit found a similar display cable setup in the recently revamped MacBook Air. So, we could be only a few thousand more lid closes away from hearing about some Stage Lighting problems with that model, too.

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The first mention of MacBook Pro’s Flexgate problem looks to have come last year, but Apple has yet to address the issue publically.

When it comes to assorted -gate problems, Apple has had a mix of responses. Those affected by iPhone 4’s Antennagate cell reception problem in 2010 got a free phone case to “fix” the hardware bug. Batterygate iPhone victims got new batteries installed in their phones at a reduced $29 cost. But with the latest version of Bendgate, involving iPad Pros with slightly curved frames, Apple simply refused to consider it a defect.

If your MacBook Pro is experiencing some screen issues, you can hope that Apple decides to come out with a solution soon. We’ll keep an eye peeled for how Apple responds to iFixit’s report.