If you have a MacBook Pro (2016 or later) and it is having some backlighting issues, then you are not alone. The so-called MacBook Pro “stage light” fault results in spotted or uneven lighting along the bottom of the display.
What is the MacBook Pro “stage light” fault?
According to iFixit, the issue is related to the cable which connects the MacBook’s display to its control board. Since the 2016 MacBook Pro, Apple has been using flexible ribbon cables which are pulled tight each time the lid opens. However, rather than routing the cables through the hinge, they are wrapped around it. This might be damaging them, resulting in the “stage light” effect at the bottom of the display. The issue worsens over time, leading to complete failure of the screen.
As of now, it is not very clear how widespread the MacBook Pro “stage light” fault is. Unlike the keyboard issue with the earlier Pro models, the “stage light” effect develops gradually, so the problem is not quite obvious for all users, at least not yet anyway. Nonetheless, at least one user has coined the term “Flexgate” in reference to the issue. The user has even created a webpage at the link flexgate.me. The page hosts a petition which has already gotten almost 4,000 supporters.
“Everyday that you use your laptop, you open and close the lid each time you need it. Modern laptops are designed for a fairly large occurrences of openings and closures. The new MacBooks Pro are an exception to this rule,” the webpage reads.
The petition requests that Apple extend the warranty duration of the MacBook Pro. The request is based on iFixit’s report, which states that the MacBook Pro “stage light” fault develops slowly over time. Thus, your device may be working fine today, but as it gets older, it might be affected by the issue, and chances are that it could be out of warranty by then.
A $6 repair could cost $600
What makes the issue even more serious is that users will need to get the whole screen replaced to fix the stage light fault. According to iFixit, the cables are integrated directly into the screen, so if they stop functioning, the whole screen had to be replaced. This makes the repair a lot more costly for users with out-of-warranty devices.
“Addressing this issue as soon as possible and replace affected displays for free. Also, the people who already repaired their laptops for fee, should receive a refund too,” the webpage states.
Older MacBook Pro models from before 2016 also had an issue with the display connector. However, users were able to get it fixed for just $6 because the cords in the older models were run through the hinge rather than wrapped around it. Thus, there was no need to get the entire screen replaced.
“This means that when (not if) those cables start to fail, the entire display unit needs to be replaced, as opposed to one or two little cables—effectively turning a $6 problem into a $600 disaster,” iFixit says.
Moreover, iFixit warns that other Apple devices with the same design are also at risk. The MacBook Air, which was released last fall, features the same basic design. The product is still relatively new, so there are no reported cases of it yet, but iFixit warns that the problem may surface eventually.
Apple has yet to offer an explanation for the MacBook Pro “stage light” fault. Hopefully the petition will force the company to acknowledge the issue and extend the warranty.
Earlier issue with MacBook Pros fixed now
Since the MacBook Pro launched in 2016, users have complained about many issues. Many of the reported problems centered on the butterfly keyboards, which users claimed became unresponsive, failed to function properly or got sticky. Apple apparently fixed the issue with the keyboard by introducing a new design in last year’s model.
Apple also launched a MacBook and MacBook Pro service program to cover affected users. The program offered free service via Apple Stores or an Apple Authorized Service Provider to users experiencing any of the covered issues, and those who already paid for repairs received refunds. Apple’s program will cover affected MacBooks and MacBook Pros for four years after the date of purchase.