Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Retina MacBook Pro Display Staining

Topher Kessler:

In order to reduce glare for its various displays, Apple uses anti-reflective coatings that should absorb, interfere with, and redirect reflected light rays while allowing transmitted light emanating from your display to pass through to your eyes. As with any material that is adhered to another, this coating may strip off under certain conditions — including extreme heat or cold, uneven pressure, warping, and cleaning with caustic agents — things generally well beyond the intended and supported use of your Mac.

However, owners of some Retina MacBook Pros sold since mid-2012 are reporting that the coatings on their displays are peeling progressively under normal use. When this occurs, the systems show what appears to be light-colored stains on the display. Since the coating is translucent, the separation can’t always be seen easily in dark conditions with the display on, but it’s more apparent when the display is turned off in a bright environment.

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Though this problem doesn’t necessarily hamper the overall functioning of the Mac, those affected would like their systems to be fixed. Unfortunately, Apple has not (yet) officially recognized the problem. In some cases, Apple has accepted and fixed affected machines, but at other times the company refuses to address the problem, claiming it is purely cosmetic.

As Michael Tsai says, I don’t get why a lawsuit seems necessary for Apple to do something about this. It would be better for everyone if Apple simply replaced affected displays free of charge, so long as no other evidence of significant damage is found. Apple retains loyalty with their best customers and gets a pool of affected devices to try to isolate the problem, and customers are impressed with the great service they receive. And, yeah, it probably costs Apple a fair amount of money: the “Staingate” site claims 1,181 affected people in their database, as of writing, and that a repair costs $800. But, assuming that the display costs Apple something like $400, that’s about a $500,000 repair bill for these users. That’s about what it costs Apple to replace broken entrance glass at one of their flagship stores. In this case, they should just suck it up.