Apple iMac 27″ Dark Side Screen Failure – The Manufacturing Fault Apple Will NOT Admit!!

I have been an Apple desktop user pretty much ever since they moved to the Intel architecture and I have been pretty pleased with my Apple computers. Unlike the bad experience I had with Windows and PC’s the iMac and OSX have been really great for the sorts of things that I do all the time. More recently though the quality of the OSX updates have been less than perfect and its starting to feel a bit like Microsoft all over again with regular OS updates that need a computer re-boot – anyway, I digress…!

One of the computers I use at work is an iMac 27″ and a few months ago the screen backlight failed, first it flickered and then half the screen went dark. So I call Apple and explain the problem and because my computer was a few months out of warranty they said my only option was to take the computer into an Apple store where they will fix it but I will have to pay for the repair – I decided not to do that because it would mean being without the computer and I need my computer at work so I decided to live with the half dark screen.

While looking around the apple support community forums I found out recently that although Apple are staying tight-lipped about this problem it would appear that *alot* of people are having this exact same problem and Apple is charging £400+ a pop to repair it – by replacing the entire screen panel it would seem….the problem has been dubbed “The Dark Side Screen Problem”…

Over on the Apple support communty “Kaos2K” found the actual root cause of the problem which is actually a manufacturing fault although Apple has been refusing to admit it so far. The problem is, heat from the backlight/screen seems to cause a surface mount 6-pin connector to break away from the board its soldered too, the only explanation for this is a poor solder joint at the time of manufacture. The thread that describes the problem can be seen here: -

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3081411

More recently Apple have been sued over this problem by one of their customers:

http://www.macrumors.com/2013/10/29/apple-hit-with-class-action-lawsuit-over-failing-27-imac-displays/

I accept that the fault probably lays with LG who make the actual panel but still Apple should be fighting the corner on behalf of their customers. I anticipate Apple loosing the case and are likely going to be compensating everyone who has had this problem.

Using the information “Kaos2K” posted I decided to make a video on fixing my iMac.

Having undertaken this repair I have absolutely no doubt that this fault is down to a manufacturing defect relating to the quality and specification of the soldering of the 6-pin connecter too the LED strip used as part of the backlight, there is no way that connector should simply “fall off” as it seems to be doing. Given Apple is the biggest technology company in the world and are so very proud of their hardware (as they should be) its is an utter disgrace that they have not recognised this problem and stood by their customers. With so much in the news last about how much cash Apple have its a shame that in a position like that they have decided not to stand up and take responsibility – shame on you Apple, its stuff like this that will drive your loyal customers back to Microsoft….

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36 thoughts on “Apple iMac 27″ Dark Side Screen Failure – The Manufacturing Fault Apple Will NOT Admit!!

  1. Remember it was apple who HAD to be sued before they would even except that in ther EU all complex electrical equipment had AT LEAST a two year warrenty weather they liked it or not it was the law. And as i was given to understand with expensive equipment there is an ‘expected’
    lifetime before failure so that failure just outside the makers warrenty is not a copout. but the second part im not sure of. But then i have not been a fan of apple since the early days and there
    games of refusing to work with anything except apple hard drives ( well unless you had a little utility to write the apple signiture to some specific sector of the disk, there latest equipment that has everything glued together so even the battery cant be changed, Well even if i could afford it i wouldent give it house room.

    • Span, indeed I know they are not for everyone by for me they are still nice computers, better than Windiws at least :) they are much better since they went Intel architecture. Gerry

  2. Gerry,
    I cant remember the make of telly but years ago ( in the days of valves ) some makers used to put
    there higher wattage resistors on tags that stuck out from the vertically mounted pcbs, the resistors were NOT wraped around the pins but simply pressed up against the pins and solderd.
    It was a ‘feature’ if the set developed a fault that caused one of the resistors to pass to much current they simply unsoldered themselvs and droped into the bottem of the cabinet cutting of the ht to the relivent part of the circuit.

    • Thanks. I have not experienced the whole screen shutdown. However, I did read somewhere that this can be reset through the keyboard somehow. Not sure I did not look into it. Thanks for watching.

      Gerry

  3. Hey Gerry

    i have two 2009 i7s on my desk. I put SSDs in them and they have been screaming fast with no display issues like you and others have experienced. I probably would have dared the repair like you did but in the end you either fix it or pay Apple for a new display. In this case your bet payed off. Nice work!

    Have a great year and try and do some more videos. Okay?

    Best
    Bob

    • Hi Bob,
      Thanks for the feedback. The repair was easy enough, it would be interesting to do it properly as a comparison (i.e. strip down the whole panel) just for fun. I will definitely be doing more vids, have been really busy and had to focus on some other stuff.

      Gerry

  4. Gerry,
    You have fallen foul of the trap that almost every manufacturer wants you to fall into. That is believing that ‘warranty’ equates to rights. The ‘warranty’ is IN ADDITTION to your rights. In the EU these right state that the seller is responsible for all faults, and the cost of repairing them, for at LEAST 2 years and up to 6 Years (it is 6 in Scotland). The correct approach is to take it to Apple, ask them to fix it, when they don’t you refer them to the Sale of Goods Act and if that fails you issue them with a letter giving them 21 days to repair it at their own expnense of face the small claims court. If they still desist then you pay your £70 to the small claims court and they will order apple to carry out the repairs. It never fails. The good thing about the small claims court is that you don’t need to turn up. Just fill in the form and pay the fee. Apple however have to send a representative to the court if they wish to fight the claim – and they will not do that for fear of setting a president. On several occasions I have used this tactic and never failed. In each case the judge has ordered the supplier to educate their staff in the ways of the sale of goods act, but that never happens. The manufacturers (more correctly, the people who sold you the item) just hope that you don’t know about your rights.

    • Hi Kenny,

      Thats a really interesting point, I have never heard it described in that way before, it makes sense that manufacturer warranty is “in addition” to your consumer rights.I should have tried that route, I will next time I think. The iMac I repaired was older than two years, I believe 2 years is what you get as standard warranty from Apple in the UK, I think mine was two and a half years old. I found this page http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/ and you are right its 5 years in Scotland and 6 years in the rest if the UK – damn I should have checked that.. thanks for the comments, really useful.

      Gerry

      • Kenny is right. Under the Sale of Goods Act products must last a “reasonable length of time” and manufacturing issues are covered for their lifetime. For a computer 6 years is typically what courts consider a “reasonable length of time”.

        Technically Apple could say something like “you have had the PC for 3 years, half the expected life, therefore we will offer you half the purchase price”. That might be less than the cost of an Apple repair, but even if you couldn’t fix it yourself it would go a long way to buying a replacement or paying someone else to do it.

        • Thanks for the comment, I ma starting to see that now….darn..should have pushed them harder. Anyway, I suppose the fact that I have done this video shows Apple that they should be more reasonable…hopefully others can learn from these very useful comments. Thanks

  5. Thank you so much for posting this video! Thank you as well to Kaos2K! I was able to fix my iMac today. I’m relatively unexperienced in soldering and had to do some exercises before. But it worked for me finally.
    Symptoms on my Mac: Flickering for about 1 month, after that the described darker left side of the screen, and since about 1 week I had a completely dark screen. So I think you are right with your assumption: the constant “overload” could lead to a complete drop out.
    Thank you very much!

  6. Hi Gerry, I’ve got this issue on my iMac now. Guess what: Apple deny any problem…Your fix is way beyond my technical ability. Do you know anyone in Thames Valley area that might be able to fix it for me? Your help would be very much appreciated.

    • Hi David,

      I don’t know of anyone although I did read on the Apple forum there is a company that do fix them for about £250, somewhere in Brighton from memory. I would offer to fix it myself but there is a lot of risk involved and it could end up very broken – which is why people tend not to like to give it a go. I would like to repair another one by stripping the screen panel down completely to see whats involved, but thats even more risky and I would not be prepared to do that to someones computer. To be honest, as you are in the UK I would try a different route… How long has your computer been out of warranty? Please read the comments on this page above, search for Kenny and you will see that you have statutory rights in the EU under the Sale of Goods act which requires Apple to provide something that is “fit for purpose” and thats good for about 5 years here in the UK. That means, regardless of what Apple think the law requires them to be reasonable and comply with the Sale of Good Act. With the evidence presented around the internet, in this video blog and many other sources there is clearly an issue, I would talk to Apple and *insist* in writing if needs be as Kenny suggests, you will probably get a repair or even a replacement computer. Like Kenny says, they will not want a small claim court ruling, it could open the flood gates. If you take that route, please let me know how you get on.

      Gerry

  7. I had the same trouble with my iMac 2009.
    I tried for 3 months myself dealing with this,and this was making my nerves really bad.
    My GP said get an Advocate,and they would act on my behalf.
    I lost count how many times the screen was replaced.
    In your video you just mended the part that was the fault,but the Apple guy just replaced the whole screen.
    The Advocate said what do want to do. I said I want a new one that works or my money back she agreed and contacted Apple.
    They gave me a brand new iMac with Lion on it. The Advocate said if this one develops the same problem you are entitled to get your money back. After six months it developed the same problem so she said I will contact Apple,and ask for a full refund.
    Apple gave me a full refund of £1,213 and then I said I will buy the new Mac Mini,but that was faulted has well with a faulty HDMI connecter. I am using a Mac Mini off 2007 to type this out.
    Allegedly both computers are faulty at manufacture and Apple is not admitting it.
    You can go to a site called Dirty screens.com and you will see all the registered iMacs 2009 Apple tried to shut him down but he lives in France. In my possession I have the full list of faulty iMacs just in France off 2009 so how many fault`s are there over the world.

  8. Hi Gerry

    Thank you so much for putting this fix for the iMac. I have been using my imac with the dimmed moniter for the last 10months (I know yikes)!!!

    I am following your instructions and I got all the way to the part where I need to soder. I’m a beginner soder and I bought all the equipment you suggested. Can you check to see if what I’m saying next makes sense?

    1) I heat to the small area and deposit some soder (you said it’s called Tinning)
    2) I use the soder to reheat up the same spot then insert the wire and wait until it hardens?

    I have realized that the amount of soder I’m using greatly determines the success of the connection.. especially the soder needs to be a small round amount so it can be reheated up again and can attach the wire. Can you offer any tips on this particular part? sometimes I think I didn’t grab enough soder into the space, and it does not “connect”

    anything would be a great help. thank you so much in advance

    Catherine

    • Hi Catherine,

      Yes you should tin both the pad on the screen and the wire before you attempt to solder them together. In terms of the amount of solder, you want just enough to make a good fillet of solder that wraps around the wire and bonds to the flat surface of the pad on the final joint. However, you should know that the most important thing you are doing when tinning is getting enough flux in the solder so that oxidisation does not occur too quickly. The solder you are using should be a multi-core which means its impregnated with flux. Flux is a chemical that prevents the solder from oxidising and therefore facilitates proper bonding between the solder and the copper/tin wire. So when tinning the wire and the pads do not heat for too long, because the more heat the more the flux is burned away from the solder. When you bring the soldering iron, the wire and the pad together the remaining flux from the tinning exercise is what actually facilitates a good quality joint. This is hard to explain and comes instinctively with practice – I applaud your attempt at this if you are new to soldering – nice one…

      Gerry

  9. Hi. Gerry.

    I have a iMac mid 2007 24″ and I had the similar trouble, initially the dark side is in the top side of the screen and now this dark expanded to fully screen, some times the screen image it’s ok, but in few seconds disappear again. I see in the back side of screen an broken thin white cord.

    If this is the cause to the trouble, How I can attach the white cord?

    Thanks.

    God bless you.

  10. Hi Gerry, been reading this with great interest. My 2011 iMac has just started doing the exact same thing. I am going to buy a new iMac on my return from overseas and give this a go. New to soldering. I guess my question is this, seeing I don’t have a whole lot to lose do you think I would be better off pulling the screen apart to do the repair or attempt it the way you did it. I doubt Apple will come around anytime soon as fess up to an issue. Just interested in your thoughts…

    • Mike,

      If you are not comfortable with soldering then taking the panel apart may be a better options, but beware there are a lot of flat flex cable in the panel that is easily torn like paper so be careful.

      Gerry

      • Thanks Gerry, I got the panel off, dug out the connector clip. I think where I am having issues is the wire I have selected is to big / thick. I know you talk about wire wrapping wire, but is there a size associated with this type of wire. It also looks like the core is solid but can’t tell or is multi wired…My terminology is not the beret. I have since bought myself a new iMac so I want to try and repair this now, if I can’t nothing lost, if I can, wife will get it. So any help with the wire, a link to perhaps where I could purchase the wire would be VERY helpful. I have watched this video about 20 times. I still am amazed you could solder wires onto that small connector. Until I got it our, had no idea how tiny those pins are….Anyway, one final answer might get me going…Thanks

        • Hi Mike,

          The wire I used is single-core 30AWG wire-wrapping wire, like this: http://www.karlssonrobotics.com/cart/wire-wrap-wire-black/

          I have obtained another 27″ Mac with the same problem from someone who read this article awhile ago, my plan is to do another video but this time showing how to take the entire panel apart to re-solder the connector back onto the original board without using wire. So if you do struggle with this fix, you might want to wait and see that video.

          Gerry

          • Taking the entire panel apart sounds like it might be an easier way to solder, that sure is confined in there. Any timing on the video?. Suspect work obviously takes preference. If it is soon, I’m happy wait. Thanks again.

          • Hi Mike,

            Maybe three or four weeks time, I have work commitments and I am on leave soon for a while too, down with the soldering iron and out with the beech towel and beer :)

            Gerry

  11. Thank you Gerry for the video. My iMac 27′ 2011 model is experiencing black screen issue. It usually takes hours for the backlight starts to flickering and turn black completely (while the LCD is still on). Turn the iMac to sleep and reactivate would turn on the backlight again but will fail soon. Also lower the backlight level will alleviate the symptom. I am wondering if you have seen this before. Or do you think it could be loose connector somewhere on the screen?

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