Apple may have quietly fixed MacBook Pro’s ‘stage light’ flaw

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MacBook Pro 2018 display cables
It's a small but significant change.
Photo: iFixit

Apple’s latest MacBook Pro lineup may be immune to the “stage light” flaw that has plagued some 2016 and 2017 models.

Slightly longer display cables inside the newer notebooks could help prevent the wear that older units are susceptible to. It’s only a minor change, but it may eliminate nasty $600 repair bills.

The “stage light” flaw, which others have dubbed “Flexgate,” is caused by the MacBook Pro’s delicate display cables wearing out over time. The cables wrap around the machine’s logic board and bend every time the lid is opened and closed.

“Within a seemingly short time, those cables are starting to fatigue and tear,” iFixit reported in January. But in a follow-up, the teardown experts reveal Apple may have fixed the problem — without admitting it ever existing.

2018 MacBook Pro could carry ‘stage light’ fix

The first thing that usually happens when a MacBook Pro’s display cables tear is the backlight starts to fail, causing a rippling effect on the screen. And because this is an Apple computer, it’s not possible to just replace the display cables by themselves.

Those cables are part of the MacBook Pro’s display panel, so when they fail, the entire display unit must be replaced. This turns “a $6 problem into a $600 disaster,” iFixit says. You may be safe if you have a 2018 MacBook Pro, however.

Apple has made its display cables ever so slightly longer — 2mm longer, to be exact — in 2018 MacBook Pro units. That additional length, albeit small, could be enough to prevent wear on the cables over time.

Is it a real fix?

“This is significant because it gives the backlight cable more room to wrap around the board and not come into contact with the board as the laptop is opened past 90 degrees,” explains Taylor Dixon, teardown engineer at iFixit.

Will the tweak be successful? It’s hard to tell at this point, Dixon says.

“The longer cable definitely gives more room to breathe around the board, but it’s still in such close contact with the board that it’s impossible to tell whether it’s rubbing on the board at any point.”

We’ll have to wait and see, then. Whatever the case may be, the longer cables suggest Apple is aware of the stage light flaw and refuses to offer a repair program for affected customers — or even acknowledge there’s an issue at all.

Some fans claim that Apple has been attempting to hide the problem, and may have even deleted support threads detailing the issue from its own forums. If you’d like to pressure the company into doing something, there’s a petition you can sign on Change.org.