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What is Flexgate

Have you noticed an unusual display on your MacBook Pro recently, perhaps a peculiar "stage light" effect at the bottom of the screen? If so, your device may be affected by a known issue within the industry referred to as "Flexgate". Rest assured, our team at SimplyFixIt is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate this problem.

An Overview of Flexgate

"Flexgate" refers to a specific issue observed in some MacBook Pro models, particularly those released between 2016 and 2017. The issue is not due to a software glitch, but is rather related to a physical component in your laptop.

The component in question is a flexible ribbon cable that connects the laptop's body to the display. This cable, much like the binding of a frequently used book, can wear out due to the repeated opening and closing of your MacBook. This wear and tear can result in the manifestation of some unusual display issues.

Display cables, loosely encircling the display controller board, become strained and may tear due to the opening and closing of the display

The Symptoms

The symptoms of Flexgate vary, and your MacBook may exhibit one or multiple of the following:

  1. Stage light effect: The display backlight shows bright and dim areas along the bottom of the screen, creating a "stage light" effect. This is usually the initial symptom.

  2. Backlight turns off beyond a certain lid angle: The display works fine initially, but goes black when you open the lid beyond a certain point. It comes back on if you reduce the lid angle.

  3. Complete backlight failure: The backlight completely fails, making the display look blank or very dim. If you shine a flashlight into the display, you'll notice that the content is still there, but it's too dim to be visible.

  4. Graphic Glitches: The display shows negative colours, or a tint of a certain colour throughout the screen, with a vertical patch of varying brightness and colour.

A MacBook pro which has bright spots at the bottom the screen. This effect is called stage lights, and it's a symptom of flexgate.
The "stage lights" effect on a MacBook Pro.

Identifying Flexgate

The most identifiable symptom of Flexgate, and invariably the first one that people see, is an effect similar to stage lighting at the bottom of the screen. This appears as an abnormal illumination, similar to a row of spotlights along the bottom of your display. The effect intensifies as you open the screen further, and if the screen is opened beyond a certain angle, the display may cease to function entirely.

Addressing the Issue

This problem presents a unique challenge. Due to the integration of the cable into the display, it cannot be replaced independently. Consequently, the entire display assembly needs to be replaced to rectify the issue, which can be quite an investment.

This Flexgate issue has been a point of contention, primarily because Apple did not initially acknowledge it as a widespread problem. This led to some frustration among customers faced with expensive repairs for what seemed to be a design flaw.

Apple's Response to Flexgate

In response to Flexgate, Apple made modifications to the MacBook Pro models starting from 2018. They increased the length of the flex display cables in these newer models by a full 2mm compared to their predecessors. The shorter cables in the older models were found to be a significant factor contributing to the Flexgate problem, as they might have been too short to withstand the wear and tear of regular use, resulting in the stage light effect on the display.

However, it's important to note that these longer cables did not entirely eradicate the Flexgate issue. The cables are still located close to the logic board, which can potentially cause friction and lead to similar issues. While less common in MacBook Pro models released after 2017, we still occasionally see this issue with customer MacBooks.

Your Next Steps

If you suspect that your MacBook Pro may be suffering from Flexgate, don't hesitate to contact us at SimplyFixIt. As specialists in Apple products, we're here to assist you. Whether it's confirming a Flexgate diagnosis or addressing other potential issues, we're dedicated to promptly ensuring your MacBook Pro is operating at its best.

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