A new display fault that has been dubbed “Dustgate” is plaguing several MacBook Pro models repair specialists say.
The issue, which causes purple vertical lines to appear on screen when the MacBook lid is open at a certain angle, has been seen on several MacBook models according to repair specialists. “It’s a common problem, we get several of them a week,” Stephan Steins from repair shop NotebookNerds told me.
The problem appears to arise from the screen flex cable, which connects the display to the main body of the laptop. At the hinge point between the screen and keyboard there’s a gap that can collect dust and dirt. Debris then gets onto the cable and, through opening and closing the lid, damages the cable over time.
This, repair specialists say, is what causes the purple lines fault that can be difficult and expensive to repair. Check out a demonstration of the fault in this iCorrect video and the image above.
Below are pictures from a repair. The left image shows the damaged flex cable, while the picture on the right shows where the dust collects that leads to the fault.
Ricky Panesar, founder of repair specialist iCorrect, told me the issue impacts the A1989, A2251, A2289, A2338 and A2141 units—with the latter being the worst affected. These models were released between 2018 and 2020, but Panesar says that MacBook Pro models that were sold between 2016 and 2020 have a similar design that could be susceptible to this fault.
Scanning forums, there are posts across Reddit and Apple’s Community pages describing vertical purple lines on various MacBook models, which appear to be the same issue. Panesar says he’s repairing at least four affected MacBooks a week and he’s had over 50 in the last year. Both Panesar and Steins say this is a common problem, but the repair job isn’t easy.
“The difficulty is that the damaged cables connect on the back of the screen itself. To repair, we have to remove the screen from the outer shell without breaking it and solder in new flex cables. There’s a high risk of breakage.” Panesar explained to me.
Both say it’s easier to just replace the display entirely, which Panesar says is Apple’s typical solution for this fault and could cost customers upwards of £500 if they don’t have Apple Care. I asked Apple how it fixes a MacBook display that is faulty because of a damaged flex cable, and how much it costs, but the company didn’t immediately respond to my question.
The repair experts claim that Apple has quietly resolved this problem in later MacBook models (2021 and beyond), which have more protection for the flex cable. But for devices that were sold between 2018 and 2020, Panesar says that users will have to regularly and rigorously clean their laptops to prevent dust build up.
Dustgate is similar to, but not the same as, the “Flexgate” issue that affected 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops sold between 2016 and 2018. That problem was also related to the flex cable that connects the display to the controller board beneath the touchbar. The cable would, overtime, degrade after repeatedly opening and closing the lid, which caused a spotlight affect on the display.
Apple eventually acknowledged this problem and offered a free of charge repair. But for the Mabook Pro units damaged by dust on the flex cable, the company hasn’t offered the same free fix, or publicly commented on it yet.
Is your MacBook plagued by purple vertical lines? Get in touch.
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