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A few MacBook Pro owners are experiencing a troublesome ‘Stage Light’ effect

Published Jan 22nd, 2019 7:06PM EST

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In late 2016, Apple introduced a revamped MacBook Pro lineup with a whole lot of fanfare. Not only did Apple’s new top of the line notebook feature a TouchBar, the entire lineup incorporated a brand new butterfly keyboard design which was supposed to create an improved typing experience. In reality, the new keyboard design was temperamental insofar that certain keys would stop working altogether if even the tiniest bit of dust happened to wedge itself underneath the keyboard.

Apple has since addressed the controversial keyboard design with a product refresh this past July. And while that’s all well and good, a brand new issue plaguing certain MacBook Pro models has emerged.

According to a report from iFixit, a few MacBook Pro owners are experiencing what is being referred to as a “stage light effect” at the bottom of their displays. Though the issue does not appear to be widespread, it’s nonetheless a point of concern when we’re talking about a laptop that easily costs more than $1,000.

The photo below, courtesy of MacRumors, shows how the issue manifests itself:

Image source: MacRumors

As to the underlying cause of the problem, iFixit explains that Apple’s MacBook Pro models use relatively thin flex cables to “connect the display to a display controller board beneath the Touch Bar.”

These cables wrap over the board, where they’re secured by a pair of spring-loaded covers—and they’re subjected to the stress of bending with every opening and closure of the laptop. Within a seemingly short time, those cables are starting to fatigue and tear. The backlight cable is generally the first to go, producing the infamous “stage light” symptoms, and eventually giving out entirely when the laptop is opened more than about 40°.

Again, this doesn’t appear to be problem impacting a significant percentage of users, but it’s still unacceptable. Compounding matters is that fixing the problem costs an estimated $600 because the MacBook Pro design precludes users from simply replacing the faulty cables on the cheap. Essentially, what we have here is a problem similar to what we saw previously with the MacBook Pro keyboard issue in that the design itself transformed what would ordinarily require a relatively quick and cheap fix into a monumental expense.

As it stands now, an online petition calling for Apple to launch a repair program has already amassed more than 2,000 signatures.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.