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MacBook Air, MacBook Pro users: Does your screen have "stains?"

Reader Bhaskar Bhat recently alerted me to a web site that describes a problem I've had with my early 2013 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. I thought I'd pass it along in case you've had the same issue.

Staingate.org has been set up with photos and a form you can fill out, if you so choose, to provide details about your own machine (I chose not to — I'm not sure how secure that data is or what the owners of the site plan to do with it, so I won't be submitting my details for now).

First of all, a word to whomever started this: Using the suffix "gate" to describe a problem, especially when it involves Apple products, is a tired trope that I wish would stop. Not every scandal or concern is "gate"-worthy. Antennagate, Bendgate, Gamergate, now Staingate — give it a rest. It trivializes one of the most traumatizing American political scandals of the past half-century and diminishes your own complaint in the process.

Anyway, back to the meat of this particular issue: According to the info posted on that site, some Apple laptop owners are noticing that, at least in some cases, within a few months of use, "stains" appear on the display. It's not happening to everyone, but it is happening. The site reports that more than 1,500 people have already added themselves to the database. Who knows how many more people have the problem, however.

I have an early 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro that I got in April 2013. About a year ago I first noticed some horizontal streaks on the upper part of the display near the FaceTime camera. At first I thought it was something on the surface of the display: Maybe finger oil that had been transferred when the lid was closed, or some other substance. Buffing it with lens cleaner and a soft cloth did nothing, however. I was content to let sleeping dogs lie because it wasn't covering the camera lens and wasn't directly in my line of sight when I viewed the screen. But the problem gradually got worse. The problem looked very similar to the image included in this article, which I copied from the Staingate web site.

Over this past winter I had my computer examined by an Apple-authorized service provider (not a Genius at an Apple retail store — the closest actual Apple store is an hour away). Fortunately, my MacBook Pro is still covered under AppleCare, Apple's extended warranty plan. That service provider was able to swap the display out under AppleCare, so I paid no fee to get it replaced. I just had to live without my laptop while the repair was happening.

According to the Staingate web site, at least some Apple customers with this problem are being told it's a cosmetic issue that's not covered under warranty. That doesn't seem right to me. If you are having this problem and you've been told you have to pay for it yourself, my advice is to escalate it: Call AppleCare. Bring it to the attention of the store manager at your local Apple retail store, if necessary.

And if you still experience resistance, point them to the Staingate web site to show that it's a problem others are having. Even if you're as I am and you have to hold your nose when you type in the URL.

25 Comments
  • oh the first thing that popped into my mind upon reading that byline! LOL
  • The pr0n is strong in this one.
  • you're holding it wrong
  • sigh That's almost as tired a trope as "-gate."
  • aim down not up
  • I really hate the -gate stuff too. Bottom line is, Apple is always willing to take care of you if you bought a defective product. All you need to do is call them or go to an Apple store. What exactly is the point of starting sites and petitions. No point at all. Apple has never really demonstrated that they are unwilling to take care of problems.
  • this is completely false. Apple only really fixes stuff when a class action is threatened. This happens time and time again and looks like it will happen here as well.
  • ha! your opinion I guess. I can actually come up with examples of Apple fixing things without a law suit. You are just speaking from your own limited opinion.
  • I didn't mean that Apple doesn't fix anything without a lawsuit, just some things. Here is the most recent example of Apple being forced to fix an issue via a class action lawsuit: http://www.imore.com/apple-announces-repair-extension-program-macbook-pr... I guess it's possible that the author and the 1500 other people are ignorant and do not know about Apple warranty services, but I have a feeling that the more likely case is that you aren't correct and Apple has denied service to these folks.
  • The author linked to a site that is a parked domain with google analytics tracking. http://www.staingate.org/ is where one would go for more information on this topic.
  • Shit! Fixed it, sorry.
  • I wish mine had this problem. I dinged the screen myself and would love to get a free replacement. Sent from the iMore App
  • Mine has this problem in a couple of places, across the top by the camera and down the right side. It's getting worse as well. Time for a visit to Apple.
  • That looks very close to what is on the bottom left of my Late 2012/Early 2013 iMac (27") screen, and was there when I took it out of the box
  • Interesting! As described, and as I've experienced, this is happening to laptops, but the manufacturing process is similar for iMacs too. Let us know how it turns out, if you escalate the problem to Apple.
  • It's from your finger rubbing on the particular location when opening and closing the lid. Always be sure to just grip the edge of the lid, not the glass. Seriously. This has been reported for the last few years. It's just the coating coming off.
  • No, it isn't. At least it wasn't in my case. I have a case on my MacBook Pro that prevents me from grabbing the underside of the lid. I always open and close it from the sides, at the edges. And if you check the site I linked to, you'll see many photos of screens that clearly don't have anything to do with fingers touching the edges - the discoloration is much more widespread.
  • So what your saying is that its not the finger oils on the screen? Then could it be heat related? If your not touching it and it has a stain then tge only thing i can think of is the heat is effecting the antireflective coating.
  • It doesn't sound like Apple to refuse help, but perhaps it is a bigger issue. It would be good to get an official response from the company if it's more common than a few faulty parts. Sent from the iMore App
  • unless someone is pleasuring themselves just because they feel special owning an apple product, I have never seen a laptop do this
  • Same issue. Same location. Pic almost looks like mine too. Did you steal my laptop? Late-2013 MBPr 15". First notices when I was using a chamois to clean the screen. We will see how this plays out. Sent from the iMore App
  • That perfect marriage of headline and preview pic... Well done, sir. Sent from the iMore App
  • Peter: Watergate "...one of the worst political..." really? Watergate was a mere mosquito bite compared to the current corrupt administration and their collectively barren constitutional, spiritual, and moral compass.. Give me a break.
  • I had stains, went to the Apple Store and within 2 hours the changed my entire display without any discussion.
  • No stains on my shiny new MacBook. Phew!