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Flexgate Repair, Screen Cuts Out When Opened Fully - MacBook Pro 13" Retina 2017 A1708

Posted by eFix Ltd on

In this case study, we have a MacBook Pro 13" Retina 2017 A1708 model where the screen shows a spotlight effect, then completely turns off, when opened fully. This is a common issue known as 'Flexgate' which affects 2016-2017 MacBook Pro 13" and 15" models. Apple cover the 2016 13" models under their free repair program, but they do not cover the 2017 13" models, or any 15" models.

Visually inspecting the device, there is no internal damage to cause this issue, but we can see a fracture in the backlight cable as pictured below;

Backlight Cable Broken

This issue affects a huge number of 2016-2017 MacBook Pros due to the fact that Apple made the backlight cable slightly too short. Over time, the cable fractures (as you can see in the picture) due to stretching, and this allows the screen to work when opened slightly, but it cuts out when opened fully, since the traces on the cable lose connection. A picture below shows how this cable should look;

 Working Backlight Cable

To resolve this problem, we carry out a permanent fix to cut the head of the original cable off (where it has fractured), and splice the original cable together with a brand new cable, extending the length of this and ensuring the issue never reoccurs in future.

The first step is to cut our new backlight cable to size, and scratch away the insulation on the cable, revealing the copper traces. The cable is made up of 3 ground traces, 1 backlight voltage trace and 6 LED return traces (which control sets of the LED lights at the bottom of the screen assembly). After exposing these, we tin it with new solder, to prepare it to be soldered to the original cable.

 Exposed Copper Traces

Soldering New Cable

Next, we cut the connector off of the customer's backlight cable, just beyond where the cable fractured. We carry out a similar process with their cable, scratching the insulation away and tinning this with new solder.

 Customer's Backlight Cable

After this, we use a soldering iron to bond the two cables together. Due to the way these were made, we have to solder these face to face, lining up the traces to ensure none are bridging and connecting to the traces next to them. We verify this by checking continuity between each trace using a multimeter, to ensure none are connecting to each other.

 Splicing Backlight Cables Together

We now fold the cable back on itself, so it is facing the same way as the original cable, but now it has been extended and the customer will no longer experience Flexgate!

 Backlight Cable Fixed

A few final steps now; after cleaning the cable up, we cut a section of the WiFi antenna out, to relieve stress from the cable. This doesn't affect WiFi functionality, and we do this since the antenna sits on top of the cable, creating a 'flex' point in the cable, where this has to bend. Cutting out a section gives the cable more movement, and is part of the process to prevent any additional stress to the cable

 WiFi Antenna Notch Cut

Now, we are finished! As seen in the below picture, the cable looks as it should, and to the untrained eye, doesn't look like it has even been worked on. 

 Flexgate Solved

If you are experiencing Flexgate on your 2016-2017 MacBook Pro 13" or 15" A1706, A1707 or A1708, we can solve this for you! Feel free to book it for our Flexgate repair and we can repair your original screen assembly, and get this fixed for you!


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