MacBook Pro flexgate shows Apple might be losing its touch

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There’s a reason why Apple’s products are highly prized despite being highly priced. The company is famous for its attention to detail and near-perfect balance of form and function. Lately, however, questions have been raised about whether the company still has what it takes to keep up that image. Because from ugly antenna lines to bending phones and tablets to fragile and expensive laptop screens, Apple seems to be making too many compromises for the sake of looking good.

The MacBook Pros with Apple’s controversial Touch Bar strip isn’t exactly new but there are some issues that only crop up after prolonged use. While wear and tear are only natural in the course of a mechanical product’s life, a $2,000 product should probably last longer than a year.

The issue affecting this line of MacBooks has been christened “flexgate” but not because the MacBook Pro itself flexes. It refers instead to the bending of the flexible ribbon cables that connect the display to the display controller located beneath the Touch Bar. Unlike other MacBooks that used thick cables that ran through the hinge, the TouchBar MacBook Pro’s very thin cables wrap over the board, ensuring that they are subjected to bending stress every time the MacBook Pro lid is opened and closed.

Compounding matters is Apple’s decision to make those cables part of the display rather than the previous modular design. What that means is that when the cables fail, owners will be forced to replace the entire display rather than just the cable, resulting in three-digit figures. And judging by the number of reports, ranging from “stage light” effects to completely unusable screen, it’s not something that is affecting only a small number of owners.

Apple speed, or lack of it, in responding to the growing number of complaints feels like rubbing salt on affected users’ wounds. It wouldn’t be too much of a big deal if it were an isolated case. As iFixit points out, the problem stems from Apple’s decision to prioritize a thinner design over something more structurally sound. And like the case of bent 2018 iPad Pros, Apple might even claim it’s a normal manufacturing side effect, except one that will cost consumers hundreds of dollars to correct.

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