Apple was aware of a hardware issue affecting certain customers’ 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models. That’s according to the judge in charge of the long-running lawsuit.
Apple knew of the flaw — later known as Flexgate — that led to the backlight failing at the bottom of users’ screens, rendering the MacBooks useless. The error was down to a design fault in the ribbon cable adjoining the display to the MacBook Pro’s body.
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As the MacBook opens and shuts, a cable flexes in tandem with it. However, an inherent weakness in these models’ flex cables meant that the cable frayed under sustained use before giving up and, ultimately, breaking the backlight.
MacRumors (opens in new tab) unveiled the findings from the Law360 (opens in new tab) report, where U.S. District Judge, Edward Davila, ruled in favor of the claimants, noting that Apple would’ve been aware of the cables’ fragility before the notebooks hit the shelves.
Apple never rectified the issue when iFixit (opens in new tab) first published its findings, opting instead to lengthen the flex cables (opens in new tab), and is accused of removing comments on its support forums to conceal the issue.
In a damning statement, the court found that the sheer volume of "customer complaints are sufficient to show that Apple had exclusive knowledge of the alleged defect."
Apple did argue back, saying that the plaintiff used his MacBook for three years without any issues. Apple also believes the case is based on false assumptions, and not hard facts. For example, Apple feels its pre-release stress testing should not demonstrably prove that the company knowingly shipped a defective product.
The judge was also of the opinion that, if Apple had been editing negative comments, then it would've been well aware that this was an issue affecting a substantial amount of its userbase.
And that's that. While bad news for Apple, a fine is likely to be a mere drop in the ocean of its profits, and unlikely to disrupt global sales of the latest and best MacBook models.
More: Check out our Apple MacBook Pro with M1 review