Stage fright or Stage light? Depends how far you dare to open your MacBook Pro's lid

Pursuit of ever skinnier laptops blamed as some post-2016 displays start failing

surprised nerd, image via Shutterstock
Ooh! A backlight!

Apple's Macbook Pro has yet another "fatal flaw" in the form of a flex cable fingered as being the root of a host of display problems.

Screwdriver botherers iFixit had already stripped Apple's flagship, Touch Bar-enabled MacBook Pro and observed flex ribbon cables connecting the display to a controller beneath the Touch Bar.

While the disassemblers didn't notice at the time, that flex cable can cause problems as every opening and closing of the pricey device puts it under stress. Over time, that stress results in some distressing display problems.

Apple fans have been complaining about the problem with their beloved hardware for some time, with many taking to social media to vent their frustration.

iFixit pointed to the fruity firm's switch from wire cables used in previous generation models to thinner, seemingly more fragile cables selected in Apple's pursuit of ever more svelte designs.

Repeatedly opening and closing the lid in order to actually use the thing is wearing out the cable. This is causing the backlight to fail, in what fanbois have dubbed "Stage Light", before eventually giving out completely, usually when the laptop is opened more than about 40 degrees.

Apple has yet to provide a statement to the effect of "you're opening it wrong", although it's surely only a matter of time.

The problem with the failed cable is that it cannot be replaced. This means that afflicted customers need to shell out $600 for a new screen unless an Apple Genius takes pity on their plight. After all, one would expect a laptop that costs several thousand dollars to last longer than a couple of years.

A petition, with 2,000 signatures so far, has been launched to persuade Apple to extend the warranty of the afflicted 2016-onward MacBook Pros.

The iFixit team reckoned that other recent Apple products, such as the new MacBook Air, may also soon exhibit the problem due to similarities in design (and the cables also being part of the display).

The Register contacted Apple to find out what the company's take was. We've yet to hear back.

While Apple has suffered the most visibly in the drive to shave off just one more millimetre from a laptop case (the infamous butterfly keyboard problem springs effortlessly to mind), other vendors have also compromised repairability in pursuit of svelteness. Microsoft, for example, scored a dismal zero out of 10 for its Surface Laptop when iFixit finally managed to pick its way through the glue to get at the guts of the thing.

Sometimes bigger really is better. ®

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