Apple has finally given in to the demands of 2016 MacBook Pro owners. Many have long been asking Apple to launch a free repair program for 2016 MacBook Pros with backlight issues (a.k.a. Flexgate). On Tuesday, the company announced its Backlight Service Program, in which it will offer free repairs for 2016 MacBook Pros with backlight issues.
What you need to know about Apple’s Backlight Service Program
Getting a 2016 MacBook Proswith backlight issues fixed could cost about $700 if it is out of warranty. Now with Apple’s Backlight Service Program, you can get it repaired for free. However, you must be aware of a few conditions before sending in your laptop for repair.
Apple’s Backlight Service Program covers only the 13-inch MacBook Pro models — both with and without the Touch Bar — released in 2016. Only devices sold between October 2016 and February 2018 are covered. The eligible models are the 13-inch MacBook Pros with Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports and Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports.
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Moreover, the repairs are covered for four years after the first retail sale of the unit, or two years from May 21, 2019, whichever is longer. Citing internal Apple repair documents, MacRumors reports that the machines with a confirmed backlight issue will get a LCD replacement for free even if the displays have accidental damage. However, Apple’s support page states that any MacBook Pro with damage that “impairs the service” won’t be eligible until that issue is repaired first.
“In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair,” Apple said.
It’s possible that damaged displays do not impair attempts to repair the backlight issue.
Owners of 2016 MacBook Pros with backlight issues have been asked to contact an Apple Authorized Service Provider or an Apple Retail Store. To arrange a mail-in repair, customers are advised to contact Apple Support.
Those who already paid to get the backlight issue on their 2016 MacBook Pro fixed have been asked to contact Apple for a refund.
What about the 15-inch MacBook Pros with backlight issues?
Affected MacBook Pros don’t experience the backlight issue when they are new; instead, the issue develops as the machine gets old. The issue is primarily caused by stress to the flex cable, which produces an effect similar to stage lighting on the display before eventually dying out.
Apple previously admitted to the issue with the 2016 MacBook Pros but said it affected only “a very small percentage” of 2016 models. More and more users have reported the backlight issue with their 2016 MacBook Pros lately.
Apple’s Backlight Service Program must come as some relief for owners of the 13-inch MacBook Pros, but what about those with the 15-inch models released in 2016? iFixit notes that the same issues affected the 15-inch models as well.
“Unfortunately, Apple’s repair program only covers 13-inch models. But we know for a fact that the issue also affects the 15-inch variant for 2016,” iFixit said in a blog post.
Hopefully Apple will add the 15-inch variants to the program at some point.
Apple fixed the so-called Flexgate issue in the 2018 MacBook Pro models by lengthening the cable, according to iFixit. However, it is not known if the issue is fixed in the 2017 models.
“Apple quietly made changes in its 2018 MacBook Pro by using longer ribbon cables. Presumably, these longer cables will also be present in the 2019 model introduced this week,” iFixit said.
Another repair program for MacBooks
Apple also announced another repair program for MacBook Pros yesterday. This program is for users with defective keyboards or sticky butterfly keys. It is actually not a separate repair program; rather, Apple has expanded its keyboard repair program to include all affected models.
With this update to the keyboard repair program, a few newer models that were not previously covered will also be eligible for repairs. However, Apple has not extended the length of the program. The free repairs will still be available four years after the first retail sale of the unit.
It is good that Apple is admitting to its hardware mistakes and launching repair programs, but the fact that such issues exist in such high-end, expensive hardware does not speak well for Apple. We can only hope the company learns a lesson from these issues to make its products free of defects in the future.