MacBook Pro 2017 Flexgate: The Hidden Display Issue You Need to Know About

As an expert on MacBook, I am here to shed light on a concerning issue that has plagued the MacBook Pro 2017 model – Flexgate.

Billy Eliash

As an expert on MacBook, I am here to shed light on a concerning issue that has plagued the MacBook Pro 2017 model – Flexgate. This article aims to educate readers about the details of Flexgate, its impact on MacBook Pro users, and the solutions available to address this problem. If you own a MacBook Pro 2017 or are considering purchasing one, this article is a must-read to ensure you make an informed decision.

Introduced in June 2017, the MacBook Pro 2017 was hailed for its sleek design, superior performance, and brilliant Retina display. However, beneath its surface, a hidden flaw known as Flexgate was silently affecting a significant number of MacBook Pro users.

What is Flexgate?

Flexgate refers to a design flaw in the MacBook Pro 2017’s display flex cables. These cables connect the display to the motherboard, allowing the transmission of data and power. Over time, due to the repeated opening and closing of the laptop, these cables can wear down, resulting in a range of display-related issues.

The Design Flaw

The design flaw lies in the thin and fragile nature of the display flex cables used in the MacBook Pro 2017. These cables are prone to fatigue and wear due to the stresses they undergo during normal usage. Unlike previous MacBook Pro models, the flex cables in the 2017 version are routed through the hinge, causing them to bend with each opening and closing of the laptop. This constant bending eventually leads to the deterioration of the cables, resulting in the display issues associated with Flexgate.

The Impact of Flexgate

Flexgate can have a significant impact on the user experience and productivity of MacBook Pro 2017 users. The most common symptom is a progressively dimming display, where the backlight starts to fail at the bottom of the screen and gradually spreads upwards. This can make it difficult to view content on the screen and strain the eyes. In some cases, the display may flicker or fail to turn on at all, rendering the MacBook Pro unusable.

The Cause of the Problem

The root cause of Flexgate lies in the decision to use thin and delicate flex cables for the display. This design choice was likely made to accommodate the slim profile of the MacBook Pro 2017. However, it overlooked the long-term durability and reliability of the cables. The repeated bending and flexing of the cables eventually cause them to fray and break, leading to the display issues experienced by users.

The Symptoms of Flexgate

Users experiencing Flexgate may notice several symptoms, including a progressively dimming or flickering display, a backlight that doesn’t turn on until the display is opened past a certain angle, or even a completely non-functional display. These issues can significantly impact productivity and user experience, making it essential to address the problem promptly.

Progressively Dimming Display

One of the most common symptoms of Flexgate is a gradually dimming display. Users may notice that the bottom portion of the screen becomes darker over time, while the rest of the display remains bright. This dimming effect can make it challenging to view content on the screen, especially in low-light environments. It can also strain the eyes and lead to discomfort during prolonged usage.

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Flickering Display

In addition to dimming, some MacBook Pro 2017 users may experience a flickering display. This occurs when the backlight fluctuates rapidly, causing the screen to flicker or flash. The flickering can be intermittent or constant, and it can be particularly distracting and disruptive, making it difficult to focus on tasks or enjoy multimedia content.

Backlight Failure

Another telltale sign of Flexgate is a backlight that fails to turn on unless the display is opened past a certain angle. Users may find that their MacBook Pro’s screen remains completely dark until they tilt it to a specific angle, at which point the backlight suddenly illuminates. This issue can be frustrating and inconvenient, as it limits the range of angles at which the MacBook Pro can be used comfortably.

Non-Functional Display

In some cases, Flexgate can result in a completely non-functional display. Users may find that their MacBook Pro’s screen remains black, even when the laptop is powered on. This renders the device unusable and can be a source of significant frustration, especially for those who rely on their MacBook Pro for work, creative endeavors, or personal use.

The Impact on MacBook Pro Users

Flexgate can be frustrating and disruptive for MacBook Pro users, especially those who heavily rely on their laptops for work or creative endeavors. Dimmed or flickering displays can strain the eyes and hinder productivity, while a completely non-functional display renders the MacBook Pro unusable. The issues caused by Flexgate can result in decreased work efficiency, compromised visual experiences, and potential financial burdens for repairs or replacements.

Reduced Productivity

A MacBook Pro with a dimmed or flickering display can significantly impact productivity. Users may find it difficult to read text, view images, or work with color-sensitive content accurately. Tasks that involve intricate details or precise color representation, such as photo editing or graphic design, can become particularly challenging and time-consuming. This loss of productivity can have a direct impact on professional work or academic pursuits.

Eye Strain and Discomfort

The dimming or flickering of the MacBook Pro’s display caused by Flexgate can strain the eyes and cause discomfort during prolonged usage. Struggling to make out content on the screen or dealing with flickering visuals can lead to eye fatigue, headaches, and general discomfort. This not only affects the user’s well-being but also hampers their ability to work for extended periods without experiencing physical symptoms.

Usability Limitations

For MacBook Pro users experiencing a non-functional display due to Flexgate, the limitations on usability are severe. The inability to use the laptop for any tasks, be it work-related or personal, can cause frustration and inconvenience. Users may have to seek alternative devices or workarounds, disrupting their workflows and potentially necessitating the purchase of a replacement MacBook Pro.

Apple’s Response

Initially, Apple did not acknowledge the Flexgate issue, leaving many affected users disappointed. However, after mounting pressure from the MacBook Pro community, Apple introduced a “Display Backlight Service Program” for MacBook Pro 2016 models, which covers the repair cost for affected devices. Unfortunately, this program does not extend to MacBook Pro 2017 models, leaving users with the burden of finding alternative solutions.

The Display Backlight Service Program

Apple’s Display Backlight Service Program was introduced to address the display issues faced by some MacBook Pro 2016 models. Under this program, Apple acknowledged the design flaw and offered free repairs for eligible devices experiencing backlight-related problems. The program covers the repair costs for affected MacBook Pro models for up to four years from the original purchase date. However, it is important to note that this program does not officially extend to MacBook Pro 2017 models, despite the similarities in the display design.

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Disappointment among MacBook Pro 2017 Users

The exclusion of MacBook Pro 2017 models from Apple’s Display Backlight Service Program has left many users feeling disappointed and frustrated. MacBook Pro 2017 owners experiencing Flexgate issues are left to navigate the repair process independently, potentially incurring significant out-of-pocket expenses. This lack of support from Apple has led to a sense of dissatisfaction and raised concerns about the longevity and reliability of their devices.

DIY Fixes and Temporary Solutions

While Apple’s repair program does not officially cover MacBook Pro 2017 models, some users have reported success in getting their displays fixed under this program. Additionally, there are DIY fixes available, such as replacing the display flex cables or using software workarounds to keep the display functional. However, these solutions may void your warranty or require technical expertise, so proceed with caution.

Replacing the Display Flex Cables

One potential DIY fix for Flexgate is to replace the display flex cables yourself. This involves purchasing replacement cables online and carefully following step-by-step guides or video tutorials to disassemble the MacBook Pro and install the new cables. However, it is important to note that this solution requires technical skills and should only be attempted by individuals with experience in laptop repairs.

Using Software Workarounds

In some cases, software workarounds can help alleviate the symptoms of Flexgate temporarily. Users have reported that adjusting the brightness settings or using third-party software to control the backlight can mitigate the dimming or flickering issues to some extent. While these software solutions may not provide a permanent fix, they can provide temporary relief until a more permanent solution is available.

Warranty Concerns

It is crucial to consider the impact of DIY fixes on your MacBook Pro’s warranty. Opening up the device and replacing components yourself can void the warranty provided by Apple. If your MacBook Pro is still under warranty, it is advisable to consult with Apple or an authorized service provider before attempting any DIY repairs. They can guide you on the best course of action and ensure that your warranty remains intact.

Third-Party Repair Options

For those who prefer professional repairs, severalthird-party repair services offer solutions for Flexgate. These services specialize in MacBook repairs and can replace the faulty flex cables, ensuring a fully functional display. However, it is crucial to choose a reputable repair service to avoid further damage to your MacBook Pro.

Choosing a Reputable Repair Service

When opting for third-party repair services, it is essential to do thorough research and select a reputable and trustworthy provider. Look for service centers that have experience specifically with MacBook Pro repairs and a track record of successful display cable replacements. Reading customer reviews and testimonials can also provide insights into the quality of service and customer satisfaction. Additionally, consider the warranty offered by the repair service to ensure you have recourse if any issues arise after the repair.

Cost Considerations

While third-party repair services can be a viable solution for Flexgate, it is important to consider the cost implications. The price of a display cable replacement can vary depending on the service provider, location, and the extent of the repair. Contact multiple repair centers to compare prices and ensure you are getting a fair and competitive quote. Keep in mind that opting for the cheapest option may not always guarantee the best quality service, so balance cost considerations with the reputation and expertise of the repair service.

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Warranty on Repairs

When choosing a third-party repair service for Flexgate, inquire about the warranty provided on the repair. Reputable repair centers will offer a warranty period for their services, ensuring that you have recourse if any issues arise after the repair. It is advisable to choose a repair service that provides a reasonable warranty period and clearly outlines the terms and conditions of the warranty. This can provide peace of mind and protect your investment in the repair.

Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than a cure. To minimize the risk of Flexgate, MacBook Pro users can take preventive measures. By implementing these measures, users can potentially prolong the lifespan of their MacBook Pro’s display flex cables and minimize the chances of encountering display-related issues.

Avoid Excessive Opening and Closing

One of the primary causes of Flexgate is the repeated opening and closing of the MacBook Pro. Each time the laptop is opened or closed, the display flex cables undergo stress and bending. To minimize this stress, users should avoid unnecessary opening and closing of the laptop. Instead, consider using sleep mode or hibernation when taking short breaks, and only fully shut down the MacBook Pro when necessary. This can help reduce the wear and tear on the flex cables and prolong their lifespan.

Use Laptop Stands or Docking Stations

Laptop stands or docking stations can provide additional support for the MacBook Pro and reduce stress on the display flex cables. When using a laptop stand or docking station, the MacBook Pro remains stationary, reducing the need for frequent opening and closing. Additionally, these accessories can improve ergonomics by elevating the screen to eye level, reducing strain on the neck and back. Choose a well-designed and sturdy laptop stand or docking station that provides proper support for the MacBook Pro and enhances overall usability.

Keep the MacBook Pro Clean and Dust-Free

Dust and debris can accumulate within the hinge area of the MacBook Pro, potentially exacerbating the wear and tear on the display flex cables. Regularly clean the hinge area and other vents of the MacBook Pro to prevent the buildup of dust and debris. Use compressed air or a soft brush to gently remove any particles that may have accumulated. By keeping the MacBook Pro clean and dust-free, users can reduce the risk of internal damage and prolong the lifespan of the display flex cables.

Is Upgrading to a Newer MacBook Pro Model the Solution?

While upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro model may seem like a straightforward solution, it is important to note that Flexgate is not exclusive to the MacBook Pro 2017. Some reports suggest that newer models may also exhibit similar issues. Therefore, thoroughly researching and considering your options is crucial before making any decisions.

Researching Newer MacBook Pro Models

If you are considering upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro model, it is essential to research and understand the potential display-related issues associated with those models. Look for user reports and reviews to ascertain whether the newer models have addressed the design flaw that causes Flexgate. Pay particular attention to any widespread complaints or recurring problems related to the display cables. By gathering as much information as possible, you can make an informed decision about whether upgrading to a newer model would be a viable solution for you.

Consulting with Apple or Authorized Retailers

If you are uncertain about whether upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro model is the right solution for you, consider consulting with Apple or authorized retailers. They can provide insights into the design improvements made in newer models and any steps taken to address the display-related issues. By discussing your concerns and requirements with professionals, you can gain a better understanding of whether an upgrade would be a worthwhile investment or if alternative solutions should be pursued.

Conclusion

Flexgate may be an unfortunate flaw in the MacBook Pro 2017, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. By understanding the symptoms, exploring repair options, and taking preventive measures, MacBook Pro users can mitigate the impact of Flexgate on their devices. It is crucial for Apple to address this issue promptly and extend the repair program to include MacBook Pro 2017 models, ensuring a seamless user experience for all MacBook Pro users. In the meantime, users have DIY fixes, third-party repair services, and preventive measures at their disposal to overcome the challenges posed by Flexgate and continue enjoying the many benefits of their MacBook Pro.

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Billy Eliash

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