Flexgate Issues with MacBook Pro Displays and How to Fix It

The brilliant integration of hardware and software is what has made the MacBook Pro a top gadget in the market. Even though the device never fails to provide a premium experience, it has its own drawbacks and flaws, which make users think before making a purchase. These include multiple display problems, which are a nightmare for MacBook Pro users.

You may have landed here because you are also have fault with the display on your MacBook Pro. Everything has been covered in this text to make things simpler for our readers. From discovering what the Flexgate issue is to checking out the signs and then proceeding to learn what you can do to fix it. We’ll try to provide you with all the information regarding the Flexgate issue on a MacBook Pro.

What Is the Flexgate Issue?

Flexgate is basically a term used unofficially for display backlight related issues. Such an issue may be caused by a damaged and fractured display flex cable. The role of the flex cable is to connect the display to the T-CON board, which is the controller logic board. This part of your MacBook Pro is very delicate and is prone to damage, resulting in issues such as Flexgate.

The design flaws on the MacBook Pro make it more susceptible to damage and breaking over time due to repeated opening and closing of its lid. This issue affects certain models of the MacBook Pro, which you’ll get to know in a while.

How To Fix Flexgate Issues with MacBook Pro

Possible Causes of Flexgate Issue

Apple gave the MacBook Pro line of devices a huge redesign back in 2016. Everything was going well until 2015 when the logic board or display controller was inserted at the bottom of the display inside the hinge cover. Basically, the display controller was a part of the lid. This way, the wire always remained inside the hinge cover and was never prone to wear and tear. Without being moved and troubled, the wire was never susceptible to damage.

However, from 2016 and onwards, apple separated the board from the display panel. Currently, the board sits beneath the touch bar inside the main chassis. The flex cable that links the board to the display has been wrapped around the hinge, making it vulnerable to fractures.

The cable has a spring-ed ribbon design and is pretty delicate. Each time you open the lid of the MacBook Pro, the cable is pulled, while closing the lid relaxes it. After months and years of use, the flex cable wears out, making it susceptible to fractures and other damage.

The flex or ribbon houses multiple cables, but the backlight cable is the most vulnerable one and damage results in all sorts of backlight issues. Let us divide the damage into multiple progressive stages:

  1. The cable is still intact, but a few connection lines are damaged or have worn out. This may produce a stage light effect.
  2. Another scenario is when the cable is fractured (not completely) but remains connected in a loose state. Opening the lid can stretch the cable, resulting in breakage of the connection. In such a case, the display will go all blank when the lid is opened beyond halfway.
  3. The final stage of damage is when the cable fractures completely. This will lead to total backlight failure resulting in a black display.
  4. At times, the graphics related flex cable may break in place of the backlight cable. This will result in graphic glitches, including negative colours and tints of certain colours all over the entire screen.

Signs Of FlexGate Issue

Specific signs and symptoms may easily identify a Flexgate issue. Damage to the Flex cable of your MacBook Pro may result in the following symptoms and behaviours:

Stage Light Effect

In such a case, the display backlight of your MacBook Pro will show alternate bright and dim areas over the entire lower end of your screen. This creates a unique “stage light” effect. This symptom comes initially due to less serious damage and should indicate you are experiencing backlight issues.

Backlight Switches Off After Opening Lid Beyond a Limit

At times, the damage may cause issues where the display may seem fine while you slowly open the lid of your MacBook Pro, but beyond a certain angle, everything goes all black. You won’t be able to view your display when the lid of your MacBook Pro is opened all the way up.

The display may return once you start closing the lid after a certain angle. Such behavior clearly indicates a problem with your flex cable, and you must have it fixed as soon as possible.

Total Backlight Failure

This can be considered the last stage of damage, where your display totally blacks out and becomes blank as your backlights are completely off. People may confuse this symptom with other problems, as a blank display could be indicative of multiple issues. However, by observing carefully and closely, you’ll be able to notice the display isn’t completely blank.

In fact, you’ll be able to see the text and pictures on the screen, but they’ll be too dim for your eyes to catch. This indicates the backlight is not functional, and the flex cable has been damaged beyond the limit.

Glitches With Graphics

This symptom is quite different from the rest mentioned above, and it isn’t wholly the backlight responsible for this issue. The display in such a case will remain as bright as it was. However, you may experience certain graphic glitches. Your display might begin showing negative colors, vertical patches of distorted graphics with varying color and brightness, and even an entire tint of a color all over the screen.

Which MacBook Pro Models Are Affected by The Flexgate Issue?

This design flaw was not present in the 2015 model of the MacBook Pro, back when the logic board or display controller was inserted at the bottom of the display inside the hinge cover. However, the flaws appeared in the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models, which include both the 13 inch and 15 inches models.

All of this began when Apple introduced the flex cable to their MacBook Pro line. As reported till now, the Flexgate issue is more likely to appear on the Touch bar models. In the recent years, Apple added silicone protection to help solve the issue; however, users have still reported the appearance of problems after long term use.

The following models are affected:

  • A1706 – MacBook Pro (2016-17, 13-inch, Touchbar model)
  • A1707 – MacBook Pro (2016-17, 15-inch, Touchbar model)
  • A1708 – MacBook Pro (2016-17, 13-inch, non-Touchbar model)

Apple made a few changes in the 2018 and 2019 models to evade the Flexgate issue. However, users with the 2018 and 2019 MacBook Pro models also suffer from the same issues. Although the occurrence of this issue on these models is much less, it is still vulnerable to damage.

Apple’s Response to Flexgate Issues

At first, all Apple did was wait and watch as the complaints regarding the Flexgate issue grew worldwide. Later on, in 2018, Apple tried combating the problem by increasing the length of the flex cable by 2 mm. A longer cable would induce less strain on the cable while opening and closing the lid.

It is still unclear whether this fix completely gets rid of the problem or whether it’s just temporary relief. As far as we have experienced, the issue still persists in the 2018 and 2019 models. However, the issue has been minimized, and the reports aren’t as large in number as they were for the 2016-17 models.

With public backlash, Apple launched a repair program where they offered to replace the display of the affected models completely free of cost. This only applied to the 2016 and 2017 models. Maybe with further backlash, Apple will also introduce the program for the affected 2018 and 2019 models.

Apple’s Display Backlight Service Program

Back in May 2019, Apple initiated a free display replacement program. This was to fix the Flexgate issue users were experiencing while at the same time, they acknowledged a hardware design flaw in their devices. However, the replacement program was only set valid for the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2016 model, even though the problem impacts both the 13 inch and 15 inch variants of the 2016 and 2017 models.

Is Your MacBook Pro Eligible for the Apple Backlight Repair Program?

It is very simple to verify whether your MacBook Pro is eligible for the backlight repair program by apple. All you have to do is launch the Apple menu and select About This Mac. You can now check all the details of your MacBook Pro to find out if your device is eligible or not. If eligible, make sure you back up all your data before you try contacting Apple to avail of the free repair service.

The following models of the MacBook Pro are eligible for the Apple backlight repair program:

  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

Now you may be wondering about what to do if your MacBook Pro is not eligible for the repair program. Although Apple has been efficient in identifying which MacBook Pro models are affected, there is still a high possibility other models might be affected as well. Apple has made it a priority to provide service to the 2016 and 2017 models of the MacBook Pro.

However, we have also received reports about the Flexgate issue on even the 2018 and 2019 models. The models launched before 2016 are free of this problem as they are built differently without making the flex cable vulnerable.

If your MacBook Pro is not eligible for the Apple repair program, you must contact a MacBook Repair Centre to have your MacBook Pro fixed. Or you may even search for a MacBook Pro Flexgate repair professional to have it fixed near you.

Is The Flexgate Issue Repairable?

Yes, the Flexgate issue can definitely be repaired, and Apple has launched a free repair service for affected purchasers. Although the flex cable cannot be repaired as it has been integrated into the screen, the display can be fixed. The best solution in such a case is to replace the entire display with a new one.

Recently, experts have been working on fixing the Flexgate issue without having to change the entire display. A great way to do this is by extending the backlight flex cable. This can be done by micro-soldering a tiny piece of a replacement cable onto the flex cable.

As far as we have heard, the results have been pretty good as the extra length to the wire puts off the strain from the flex cable, making it less vulnerable to damage. This repair can be highly specialized and should be performed by the best experts out there.

By applying this method to solve your Flexgate issue, you’ll be able to save a lot of money, as changing a display can be pretty expensive. This is exactly the change introduced by Apple in 2018, where they have increased the length of the flex cable to reduce strain on the wires.

Wrapping It Up

With this segment of the text, our article comes to an end. After going through this text, you now know everything related to the Flexgate issue experienced on the MacBook Pro and what you can do to fix it. If your MacBook Pro model is eligible for the free repair service program by Apple, that’s the best option you can go for.

Otherwise, you’ll have to spend some money on changing your display from a trustworthy expert. You may as well go for micro-soldering to save your time and money, as it has proven to give decent results. We tried our best to provide you with all the vital information regarding the Flexgate issue on MacBook Pro.

Nick Miller

It's Nick Miller a 25 year old tech enthusiast and senior editor at Flexgate, i try to make tech simple for the everyday person. You will find review about tech, tools and Computer hardware here.

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