In 2019, some customers from the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models began to notice a strange “stage lighting effect” that would affect the screen, potentially making the laptop unusable. The strange occurrence is due to a weak and fragile flex cable that can experience wear and tear when the computer is repeatedly opened and closed.
Image via MacRumors reader SourceSunToM
Now, two years later, a judge leading a case from a group of consumers accusing Apple of deliberately selling laptops, despite the shortcoming, said Apple would have been notified of the problem thanks to pre-release testing.
As reported in a paid wall report from Law360Judge Edward Davila sided with the plaintiffs by agreeing that testing of laptops before release would have informed Apple engineers of the problem. Therefore, the company deliberately sold laptops with the error.
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila ruled that consumers’ claims that Apple conducted intensive testing prior to release, which consumers say were carried out by a team of “reliable engineers” who performed stress tests and other procedures that would have alerted Apple to behind-screen defects sufficient that Apple was aware of the alleged error.
“The court finds that the allegations of pre – release testing combined with the allegations of significant customer complaints are sufficient to show that Apple had exclusive knowledge of the alleged defect,” the judge wrote in his opinion.
The plaintiff, Mahan Taleshpour, who represents a larger group of consumers, says that Apple “continues to deny that there was ever a defect in the monitor cables,” and further states that Apple tried to cover evidence for “Flexgate”.
According to Talehspour, Apple deliberately deleted comments and threads from the Apple Support Community Forum, which often serves as a place to gather information about potential issues with Apple devices. Talehspour accuses Apple of deleting comments outlining “lexFlexgate” and the issues around the screen. The judge says that if the charge is true, it will serve as further evidence that Apple was aware of the problem.
If Apple deleted comments on its site from consumers complaining about display issues attributable to the alleged error, it suggests that Apple was aware of the alleged error, better than the plaintiffs or potential class members.
Apple pushes back and says that Talehspour bought its MacBook Pro in 2017, and used it without problems for more than three years until the case was filed. Apple also says that the claim is based on false assumptions, not hard facts.
In particular, Apple says that the idea that pre-release testing of the device would have alerted it if the problem is not accurate. Alexander Wheeler, a lawyer for the case, says the plaintiffs are “naturally satisfied” with the judge’s current stance on the case and their decision to let the case proceed. Wheeler goes on to specify the details of “lexFlexgate”.
“The thin cables stretch and wear when consumers open and close laptops,” Wheeler said. “When the thin cables are torn, the laptop screen – which Apple calls the” best Mac screen ever “- stops working long before the expected life of an expensive Apple laptop.”
With the release of the MacBook Pro in 2018, Apple addressed the issue by adding a longer and seemingly stronger flex cable to the monitor, reducing the likelihood of wear.