Judge says Apple knew some MacBook Pro models had 'flexgate' display defects

Apple MacBook Pro
Apple MacBook Pro (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A judge says that Apple was aware of an issue that caused the screens to fail on some 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros.
  • The issue was found to be caused by a fragile flex cable.

Apple knowingly sold MacBook Pro notebooks with a screen defect that could cause their backlight to fail. That's according to a judge presiding over a lawsuit relating to the problem.

Apple's 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro machines suffered from an issue that saw backlights fail towards the bottom of their screens. The issue was ultimately identified to be caused by a fragile flex cable that broke following repeated opening and closing of the notebook. Fraying cables caused backlights to fail, people discovered.

A Law360 report, spotted by MacRumors notes U.S. District Judge Edward Davila saying that Apple would have been aware of the issue even before the devices were released to the public.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila determined that the consumers' allegations of Apple conducting intensive pre-release testing, which the consumers say was conducted by a team of "reliability engineers" who carried out stress tests and other procedures that would have alerted Apple to defects behind the display failures, sufficiently demonstrate that Apple was aware of the alleged defect."The court finds that the allegations of pre-release testing in combination with the allegations of substantial customer complaints are sufficient to show that Apple had exclusive knowledge of the alleged defect," the judge wrote in his opinion.

Apple is accused of deleting comments made to its support forum in an attempt to hide the problem. The judge also noted that, if accurate, that would also prove that Apple knew it had an issue on its hands. Apple ultimately fixed the problem by using a different flex cable from 2018 onwards.

Apple's current MacBook Pro doesn't suffer from any such issues. Neither do any of Apple's other MacBooks available to buy today.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.