Macbook Air screen now folds flat. Broken hinge?

UPDATE 29th August 2009 – Apple have finally acknowledged there is an issue with the MacBook Air hinges and is offering to repair/replace any faulty hinges even if the warranty has expired. Click here to read the full article on Apple’s website.

I bought my MacBook Air in Feb 2008 and for the last 11 months I’ve always been frustrated with the restrictive screen angle. It didn’t seem to go much past vertical (roughly 120°) so there were certain situations when I had it on my lap where I could not get the screen back far enough to view comfortably.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) my MacBook Air hinge broke/snapped the other day and this has resulted in the screen folding almost completely flat (roughly 160°).

There were no suspicious “circumstances” when the hinge broke, it had been sat on my desk from the previous day with the lid shut and I simply opened the lid whilst the MacBook Air was on my desk and when the screen reached the usual point of resistance (roughly 120°) there was a momentary feel of resistance followed by a snapping/popping sound and the screen then went completely flat.

The screen was still working perfectly normally, no loss in general resistance of the hinge, the backlight was functioning ok, the picture was perfect and there were no nasty noises when opening and closing the screen.

The hinges appeared to be in tact when inspected just above the keyboard so I closed the lid and lifted it up to inspect the underside of the hinges. It was then that I noticed two tiny (and I mean tiny) specs of metal/plastic sitting on my desk roughly where the hinge was. On inspection they appear to be some kind of light weight alloy metal and look like they have sheared off at one end.

I kept hold of them both and tried to get some photos of them with my digital camera but they were too small too get a decent macro focus on, so instead I resorted to my Veho USB Microscope (handy Christmas present) to take some photos and have included a pencil tip, pin tip and ruler for scale purposes just so you can get an idea of just how small these pieces are. [see the gallery at the end of the post for all the photos]

I’m guessing that these two small parts were integrated into the hinge as “stops” to prevent the screen from opening too far. If that is the case then making them just over 1mm wide seems a little daft to me and I’m not surprised they have snapped.

I don’t really mind too much that the screen now opens to around 160° but I’m taking it in for repair this week just incase the excessive opening angle is causing any ribbon cables or similar connecting the screen to the motherboard to rub and wear through. There do appear to be numerous cases of this mentioned across the web, many seem to just have the screen open flat like me but a few others have cracked hinges and completely broken hinges.

I shall update once I’ve heard back from Apple Service.

UPDATE (4th Feb 2009): I’ve now picked my MBA back up from repair and I’ve got a brand new lcd screen, surround, lid and hinge, basically the upper half has been completely replaced and from what I’ve researched that always seems to be the case, replacing the whole screen assembly rather than just the hinges. I have noticed that the new screen seems to suffer from the dreaded horizontal grey lines syndrome I’ve been reading about, I guess it’s a screen from the new Rev-B models, it’s certainly not as crisp as my old screen but I’m going to spend some time with it first before I decide if I’ll complain about it. Also, because of a problem with the date and time being lost every time the battery ran low I’ve also got a brand new battery, which was nice.

26 Replies to “Macbook Air screen now folds flat. Broken hinge?”

  1. I’ve had my Macbook Air for about 3 years (As of the time i’m writing this comment). A year ago My laptop screen hinge broke and it was only able to bend about 160º. I haven’t gotten my screen fixed yet because it would be too expensive, but learn from my mistakes because now my screen is able to bend up to 180º Which is flat. The more time the hinge stays broken the worse it will get. At this point my Laptop is in such terrible condition that my once small hinge problem has evolved into multiple problems, such as slower processing, and longer loading time. It is getting to the point where I am just going to take all of the important parts out and sell them because if I traded in my computer I would get nothing for it. I will take the money earned from the parts I sold and just buy a new laptop.

  2. Fuck apple. My hinge broke simply by opening it up one day. The next day it shorted out my LCD. When I brought to apple they REFUSED to repair/replace it. Considering I had apple care and it was 1 year old, they can kiss my ass. They claimed it was physical damage even though nothing externally was broken! Quoted me 800 for repairs. I ripped it up and through it at the manager and left. Back to a PC considering these fools are ripping people off

  3. one hinge of my MBA got broken. some guy tried fixing it for me by using lead. its working alright now but is it going to create problems for me in the near future? am really confused cuz i don’t have money to replace the lcd.

  4. Same problem here. Left hinge broke a few month back. Now right hinge broken too. Went to apple store in Jakarta. Was told must replace the lcd, cost around $800.

  5. A friend named Christiaan Hunter, from Australia says it has bought an Apple MacBook Air from 28 / 02 / 2008 Broadway at Apple – Sydney. After a period of use (still in warranty), once after use is completed, he closed the screen at a half, suddenly the crack heard and there could not be chipping and peeling hinges.
    He was working at Sai Gon – Viet Nam, he took it to Apple station because it was still in warranty repair. But technicians here refused warranty on defects due to damage that causes loss due to random use (was accidental damage. NV). Not satisfied with this explanation, Christiaan Hunter contacted with Apple in the U.S. and Singapore but still get the same explanation, and of course he had to give him money to fix the hinge in position monitors . Also Christiaan Hunter said there has been many users of Apple MacBook Air get this trouble, the majority in America.
    Is that the mood because ally when viewed through the line of Christiaan Hunter himself or not, Steven Brown immediately implemented his posts at 5pm … morning that he also encountered similar problems in the hinge machine Apple MacBook Air. Worse, after heard the crack, he could not close the screen lid again. Steven Brown in addition to paying $ 900 for repairing the screen hinge, must also take more charge back up data in the process of repair.
    In Vietnam, outside of Apple’s statistics, we have known that there were 5 problem of Apple MacBook Air hinges screen cases. Three cases were hinge bar ripped from 20mm to 25mm, two cases of broken screen hinges. At Sai Gon City recorded two cases like this. These cases are not able to close the screen closed. If you continued using by hesitate to correct this mistake, that can disrupt the body’s structure, and break screen system like wireless, wifi …
    Recently, the world of Apple MacBook Air fans have been forumed such a “buzz” on many countries. So that the Apple should be responsible more with the “accident” in a random … quite frequently from the screen hinge This image models. Because they are idols from the Apple product so that they just get an attitude intense, demanding revision Apple official must to find out the cause of why the Apple MacBook Air hinge parts was broken, It was caused by design, is not it? or policies of materials used in manufacturing components of the machine at this location is not standard? If so, Apple confidently should have taken an action to satisfy customers that have been faithful to them capital; like product recalls, change the others or at least, unconditionally guarantee with these troubles!
    At st. Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam,there is a place not the authorized dealer or warranty station or any other Apple laptop any brand in the world, but this place can repair, replace, and remedy all the errors arising from failure hinge parts of different types of laptops. Through the exchange, he Phuc – person in charge of the facility confirmed to us: “laptop repair hinge is replaced by a new type of titanium alloy hinge super durable, not welded. What Kind of Laptop hinges not have all the other places, we can! “. One client was the hinge of each screen Apple MacBook Air here revealed more: she just spend the $ 100 for the replacement of the hinge Apple MacBook Air, which she bought the previous ten months with $ 2,250. New hinges are made of titanium alloy base warranty to two years in the procession is not due to physical problems, whereas if you bring official agent takes from $ 600 to $ 900 to fix the situation.
    Interested in this matter may contact:
    Add: 57 Banana Garden F4, District 3, HCMC. City
    Mobile phone: 0938831366
    Home phone: (083) 8340893
    You can refer the problem of the screen hinge Apple MacBook Air:
    24 – 6-2010

  6. The hinge of my MacBook Air broke tonight! I heard a big crack (all I did was open it) and the left hinge had completely separated and the plastic had come apart near the hinge. I can’t completely open or close it now and after pushing the power button I heard it trying to start up about 4 or 5 times but now when I try there is nothing. It has a full charge. I only got it at the end of Aug. last year. I got it in the UK, but now I’m back in Canada (there is no Apple Store in this province) so I have no idea what’s going to happen!

    A couple of months ago I also had the misfortune of a swollen battery in my iPod which cracked the case and made it completely unusable!

  7. Same problem…broken hinge…bu i kep on using it and now i donthave a dislay..can some1 suggest a spare lcd cable that can be replaced and get the problem fixed.or have i messed up the MBA.

  8. Apple did the same thing to me. They look at the computer TRYING to find any other damage to they can claim you physcially broke it. Its a joke I will never buy an Apple product again, their MacBook Air is a piece of crap. I have this problem, yet I went into the store to be told someone inspected it over the internet and declined to cover it. When I spoke to that person, she kept telling me “Through visual inspection of the hinges they appear to be broken” She was careful to say not cracked. When I said Duh their broken thats why im here, she said that I mustve opened the computer to far and that It was my fault. When I asked how they can conclude that, she kept saying only “Through visual inspect” Never once did they tell me WHY THOUGH. She must have told me that 300 times! Its like talking to a recording. Apple can kiss my ass, worst service ever.

  9. That happened to mine also but just had it replaced about 3 weeks ago
    I called and complained to customer service who told me they would make an exception for the repair and also went to 2 different apple stores the second one did it willingly didnt even seem to care about the exception
    He did it as he said in the spirit if christmas
    Which I was happy about because I did not and still do not have the 800+ for repairs!

  10. Hey guys, i also need help.

    First one hinge broke, kept using the macbook like that. Then the other one went. Now the screen really messed up, i think the wireing got messed up because nothing on the screen moves and its all purple and greenish….I dont no what to do, i have apple care but the guy said because of the dents and scratches on he cannot do anything….but its a goddamn macbook air, its made to be travelled with!

  11. apple opened mine up 5x bc of stupidity, and this happened to me, out of warranty. i just got off the phone with them and they setup a case # and overrode the expired warranty to do the repair for free. they cant override that in the store so call. you just might be in luck!

  12. Im pretty new to the mac world so this really helps alot and i thank you for this. Now i just have to decide if its worth bringing it in to fix this, the screen does not fall or move on its own but it does open all the way back as yours did. I have apple care to 2011 so i guess even if i wait i can still bring it in before 2011.

    1. @richxps – Not a problem, happy to help. If you’ve got Apple Care until 2011 don’t worry about it too much for now. I was a little concerned that the ultra thin ribbon cable that connected the screen to the motherboard might be rubbing when opening the screen flat hence Apple put stoppers in to only allow the screen to open half way. I’ve now changed my opinion on this and think the screens only open half way to prevent the laptop becoming top heavy (un-balanced) and topppling off a desk, etc.

      In fact, since having the new screen fitted (which only opens just past vertical as it should do) I kind of miss having the ability to open the screen further in certain situations.

      If I were you I would simply wait until you have access to a spare laptop or have a week holiday or similar booked when you know you won’t be needing your MB Air and get it booked in then. The only issue with leaving it longer is that at present, if you take it in for repair and there’s no other signs of damage to the MBA case (drop, dent, etc) then Apple with repair free of charge, however, if you accidently drop/bump the laptop leaving a mark on the shell and then try and get it fixed under Apple Care you might find they won’t fix it if they believe it was damaged by accidental damage.

      Many people, including myself, believe(d) that Apple Care covered damage caused accidentally (spilt liquids, dropped, etc) but it doesn’t

      The Plan does not cover:
      a. …….
      b. Damage due to accident, abuse, neglect, misuse…….

      So maybe it’s best to get a new hinge/screen unit fitted now whilst theres no other damage that could be blamed for the faulty hinge but if you really can’t be without it for more than a few days it’s a tough call.

      Scoopz (Admin)

  13. Hi, how long did it take to get your air back ? i have the same issue with my hinge, and would like it fixed but im not looking to give it up for more than 2 or 3 days. Also when you sent it in did you erase all your information from it ? how can you prevent anyone from seeing whats on your pc when you send it in ?
    Thanks again.

    1. @richxps – I was without my Air for about a week but that was with a local Apple reseller/service company and I still haven’t sold my old Macbook Pro yet so that came in hand as a spare, I simply used the Migration wizard to transfer everything to that temporarily. My nearest Apple store is over an hour away and when I called them they were looking at around 14-21 day turnaround.

      I didn’t erase anything on mine, but like you, I was concerned about protecting my private data. First and most important thing to do is BACKUP before you send it off for repair, if you’ve not already got one buy a large USB HDD (or better yet a TimeCapsule) and use TimeMachine to get a FULL backup that you can restore from should you get issued with a new replacement Air by Apple.

      To prevent unauthorised access to your data make sure you turn on encryption of your home directory (FileVault in User section of System preferences) then create an additional user call “Repair” or “Apple Tech” etc and give them a limited profile with no password, also ensure auto-logon is disabled.

      When they now get your machine and boot up they can only log in as “Repair” or whatever limited user you created and cannot see any files in your encrypted home directory.

      Hope that helps.

      Scoopz (Admin)

  14. @Wei Chu – I only got a new main battery because of another fault with my Macbook Air whereby it was losing the date & time whenever the battery ran flat. It turns out the MBA and the other Macbook and Macbook Pro range no longer have dedicated CMOS/clock batteries, instead they use a trickle from the main laptop battery in conjunction with a capacitor to store enough charge for when the main battery is removed. They found my main battery to be faulty and replaced it with a brand spanking new one, which I wasn’t expecting but and very grateful for.

    I called and spoke with my technician during the repair and he said the screen opening all the way wasn’t damaging any of the cables feeding power/video/iSight to the screen and could have been used without any long term issues. He just mentioned that it might be more likely to topple off a desk if opened too far.

    If you are still under warranty though (which all MBA’s still are I think as they’ve not been out a year yet, just) then there is no harm in returning it to be looked at. The worse that can happen is they send it back untouched, in which case you’ve simply paid the price of being without your laptop for a few days.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  15. Well, the laptop seems to be perfectly fine, but if you are telling me that you can get a brand new battery etc… I don’t see why I shouldn’t just take my laptop into the shop as well.

    Thanks for the info.

  16. @Wei Chu – falling asleep and then rolling over your MBA, unlucky, that could prove to be an expensive night! I was wandering about why the little bits that fell out were slightly bevelled just were they snapped, it could be they were designed like that so they’d give way before the LCD screen itself cracked under any stain, like a sacrificial hinge preserving the more important LCD?

    @Hank Rogers – That’s one very expensive repair cost, I’ve just picked my MBA back up from repair a few hours ago and I’ve got a brand new lcd screen, surround, lid and hinge, basically the upper half has been completely replaced. I’ve also got a brand new battery too which was nice. I have noticed that the new screen seems to suffer from the dreaded horizontal grey lines syndrome I’ve been reading about, I guess it’s a screen from the new Rev-B models, it’s certainly not as crisp as my old screen but I’m going to spend some time with it first before I decide if I’ll complain about it.
    It’s unfortunate that the repair shop won’t fix it for you, perhaps they suspect it’s been dropped or damaged somehow causing the problem? Are there any noticeable signs of damage elsewhere on the machine, dinks, scratches, dents, etc that could lead them to think this is the case?

    I would suggest trying to send it direct to Apple (is there one near you?), it might cost you a little bit in shipping and handling to post it to Apple but compared the the potential repair bill it could prove cost effective.

    I don’t have any such gap between my display and the case by the way.

    Let me know how you both get on.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  17. Hi guys, funny that I am not the only fool with a broken hinge.
    Bought my MBA in December and 3 weeks ago suddenly one hinge was broken, I worked on it for about an other 1/2 hour and then closed it. Next day saw that the other hinge was broken as well.
    Took it back to the shop (not an apple shop) and today got the news that they wont take the guarantee and it would cost me about 1050€ to change the whole display.

    What about yours, my MBA now has a little gap near the hinge between the display and the case.

  18. Hi, interesting that I came across this because last night I fell asleep with my MBA (stupid) and ended up rolling over it and the same “snap” occurred. I’m interested to hear what you have to say about this because I was slightly worried. I never saw those two metal things, but the fact that they are beveled right where it snapped, makes me think that they are possibly meant to do so.

  19. @A – My MBA is still with the repair centre but I called them yesterday (Thursday) for an update.

    They are awaiting parts which should arrive today and hopefully I’ll get it back today or tomorrow. They are replacing the entire display assembly without any questions. I’m not sure if that means they are replacing the actual screen itself but it’s definitely going to be a new hinge.

    Hope this helps, also note that I’ve taken it to a certified Apple repair centre NOT an official Apple store. The nearest Apple store to me is over an hour away but we have an official Apple reseller (MCC) in town and that’s where I buy a lot of my Apple stuff from. They are able to repair any Apple product whether it was bought from them or not, so long as the machine is in warranty.

    Regarding what to say, I just showed them that the screen opened further than it should, comparing it to their one in store. I mentioned that I didn’t really mind as it was quite useful because the hinge angle was rather limiting before but I wanted service to check it out and make sure no ribbon cables, etc were going to get worn prematurely.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  20. my screen just did that. have you heard back from them yet? how did you convince apple to even look at it. im taking mine it tomorrow and idk if they will just tell me that they cant do anything about it. let me know asap! cuz im taking mine in tomorrow and dont know what to say! thanks!

  21. Hi,

    Cool website, interesting topics. I stumbled upon your site mainly because I am trying to find out if WordPress is supported on Easyspace (hosting site). You were experiencing a Gallery problem back in August of 2008 with PHP4. Was this ever resolved and are you still with Easyspace?


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