MacBook Pro 2016 Backlight Problems – Again

Crassula hottentot in a porcelain lady pot
Trying to keep calm

Repair website iFixit announced in 2019 that that the 2016 MacBook Pro had backlight issues caused by a design flaw. A delicate flex cable in a tight space tends to wear after the display is repeatedly opened and closed. Shortly after this, my display started playing up.

I was shocked, having experienced excellent reliability on my 2009 iMac, which still works, though very much in its own time, to see its replacement fail before it.

After hours of research and online chats, I was referred to an Apple Genius man who arranged for the screen and sticking keyboard to be replaced. From memory, the repair took ten days. He assured me that the replacement screen would not develop the same problem. Just coming up for two years later, it has.

The visual effect is not exactly the same – it’s worse. The first time round, the screen developed pale bars across the bottom. After a few days of trying to ignore these, the screen went black. A few horrified experiments later, I discovered the screen would work provided the lid was barely open, enough for a hasty last information grab/back up, etc.

This second time, I noticed a small amount of flickering at the bottom of the screen a couple of times. The effect was fleeting and faint enough to allow me to persuade myself I might have imagined it. But my heart sank.

MacBook Pro with flickering lines on the display
Display with flickering lines

A week or so later, the backlight issues are back with a vengeance. Patches of flickering purple and blue horizontal lines appear all the time across the screen in six columns. The left side is more lightly affected, and in green.

I am booked in to see an authorised Apple repair company and am hoping they will agree to repair it under the same 13” MacBook Pro backlight program, but will keep you posted.

My experience suggests that the affected MacBook Pro 2016 models would be a risky second-hand purchase, even if refurbished, especially once the backlight repair programme ends.

The Guardian reports that one UK-based fashion company advises buyers to work to quality standards that assume a dress will stay in its owner’s wardrobe for less than five weeks. For those of you who think that makes sense and that I am foolish to expect a 2016 model to be functioning in 2021, I am guilty as charged. Major purchases should be fit for purpose and should last, not be designed to be replaced. Older models will not have the most up-to-date features, or be the fastest, but I can live with that.

Meanwhile, forgive my apparent neglect. I will be back when I can read and write without the dreaded flickers which can not be good for the eyes.

Update: My MacBook was away more than two weeks having a second replacement screen fitted. I’m told all our repairs are done in the Czech Republic. I’d like to hope the new screen will last longer than the previous two. 

29 Replies to “MacBook Pro 2016 Backlight Problems – Again”

  1. Yikes Susan – hadn’t heard of this (thankfully). My 2015 model (knock wood) is still working beautifully. I hesitate to upgrade it as I hear so many complaints about newer models. Apple used to have the highest standards of excellence. I now see a serious problem with iPhone 12 and 12 pro models. I’m very sad to see Apple falling down on the quality scale.

    1. I am too. I hadn’t heard about the iPhone problems. I was wavering between the Air and the Pro which was new at the time, but it seems like I’d have been better with the former.

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