Apple has quietly fixed the “stage lighting” issue that plagued 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models by lengthening a cable in the 2018 models of the laptop.
Some owners of 2016, 2017, and some 2018 MacBook Pro models have complained of a problem with the laptop’s display, where the backlight would improperly illuminate the screen due to damage to a thin flex cable that connected the motherboard to the display, causing a “stage light” effect at the bottom of the display.
iFixit reports Apple has quietly fixed the issue in 2018 models by lengthening the cable. A comparison of a 2016 cable and a 2018 cable shows the 2018 version of the cable has been lengthened by 2 millimeters. The change has been found in both 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook models.
“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,” said Taylor Dixon, teardown engineer at iFixit. Presumably, this contact is what led to the wear, tear, and eventual failure of the cable—though the exact cause of the failure is tough to pin down. “Since we have yet to experience the problem for ourselves, it’s hard to say for sure how much of the problem is the cable being in close proximity to the board and how much of it is the length of the cable,” said Dixon. “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.” In other words: this could solve the problem, or it could just delay the cable’s inevitable failure a bit longer.
Although the issue doesn’t appear to be affecting any other Mac models, iFixit says it has concerns that the issue may eventually affect the 2018 MacBook Air. While the Air doesn’t use an identical cable design, the assembly pattern is similar to the affected MacBook Pro models.
If you have a 2016 – 2018 MacBook Pro that appears to be affected by the issue, you might want to take investigate a petition launched by a Mac owner, calling on Apple to offer an extended warranty program. At the time of this article, over 13,500 folks have digitally signed the petition.