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M1 MacBook Screens Are Cracking: Here’s What You Should Know

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A small number of MacBook users have reported a potentially serious issue with Apple's M1 MacBooks. Stories of cracked LCD screens on the latest M1 MacBook Air and M1 MacBook Pro, which launched in November 2020, have appeared in several places online.

Let's review what's happening to these MacBook models, the cause of the problem, and what you can do to protect your device against it.

M1 MacBook Horror Stories

Discussion threads about this problem have popped up on Apple's Support Community and Reddit, with multiple users reporting similar incidents. These people opened up their laptop lids to find a cracked screen, black lines, and discoloration. What's confusing is that the reason for the cracked screens isn't clear, with these folks reporting normal routine usage and no external damage whatsoever.

Here's the story of one user who fell victim to this issue:

“I bought a MacBook Air M1 6 months ago and the screen cracked for no apparent reason. I left my computer on the top of my desk during the night and the next day I opened it the screen had 2 small cracks on the right which damaged the functioning of the screen. I contacted an authorized Apple center which told me Apple warranty would not cover it as it is a contact point crack; as if I have left something the size of a rice berry between the screen and the keyboard. It is absurd as I have nothing like it on my desk and the computer was properly closed as usual and didn’t move the whole night.”

Nearly 50 people responded to the original post commenting that they too had encountered the problem. Another user reported a similar incident:

“I have just experienced the same thing. On July 28th I closed my laptop to take the dog outside. I came back in and opened up the laptop and there was a crack. It was very confusing as I could not understand how this would have happened. Took the Mac to the apple store and was told right off the bat “I will tell you what you did here” and it was explained how I must have closed the lid on something. When I said that did not happen they said I must have pushed down on it or held it wrong.”

It's unclear how many MacBooks are impacted by this screen cracking issue, but it sounds like a non-trivial number based on these stories.

What Could Cause These Screen Cracks?

Based on these reports, there is no single apparent cause for the cracks. Users have reported no external damage, pressure, or force applied to their device. A probable cause for the cracks could be debris present between the screen and the Mac's body while the screen was shut. This could have caused the crack in the screen, especially if the owner forcefully shut the laptop lid.

A cracked screen from to debris is always a possibility with laptops, given their portable nature. However, it seems that the exact culprit is too small for affected users to have seen or noticed. This seems plausible, since Apple has previously warned MacBook owners not to attach webcam covers to their laptop. Since the cover creates an additional gap between the screen and the body, it may cause cracks.

Apple Support has told some people that they must have accidentally shut the laptop's lid on a speck of something, like a small object "the size of a rice berry," according to one user.

M1-Macbook-Screens-Cracks-Macbook-Pro
Image Credit: Apple

Another speculation on the cause of the cracks is the frame of the MacBook. It is possible that the frame holding the screen is too weak to properly safeguard it from the torque force experienced when it's closed or carried around.

However, we think this is unlikely, as the design of the current M1 MacBook Air and Pro is the same as the previous generation. We haven't seen any widespread complaints of any screen-cracking issues in that generation, so the chance of it only happening on the new model is low.

How to Get a Cracked MacBook Screen Repaired

Unless the damage is minor, a cracked screen will likely result in a dead screen, rendering your device unusable. As such, you'll want to get it repaired quickly. Your best bet is to take your Mac to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Repair Center for a screen repair or device replacement.

Some people have gotten lucky and were offered a free repair or replacement of their system. However, Apple support has told most victims of this issue that they are responsible, so the damage is not covered by the machine's warranty. Charges vary between $400 and $800 for a new LCD panel installation.

Read more: How to Check the Warranty Status of Any Apple Device

If your Mac is covered under AppleCare+, the cost should be substantially less. A cracked screen with AppleCare+ currently costs $99 to repair. AppleCare also covers two incidents of accidental damage, which should include this specific issue.

Is AppleCare+ for Mac Worth it?

The value of AppleCare+ has been a debatable topic for many years, with lots of people choosing not to purchase it because they believe they can keep their devices safe. However, it is important to note that AppleCare+ for Mac is quite handy in cases like these.

AppleCare+ extends the included coverage to three years, though you can also add onto your AppleCare+ coverage if needed. It includes two damage replacements every 12 months, with an additional charge of $99 for replacing the screen or outside of the laptop.

M1-Macbook-Screens-Cracks-Worktable

AppleCare+ currently costs $199 for the MacBook Air (M1) and $249 for the MacBook Pro (M1). If you compare this to your initial investment of at least $1,000 (depending on which MacBook you've purchased), it's not too bad. In addition, this plan can save money in the long run if you're particularly accident-prone. We would recommend purchasing protection if it fits your budget, especially if you can't afford to pay for repairs.

Has Apple Responded to the Screen Cracking Issue?

Apple hasn't released an official statement on the matter, nor has it introduced a repair or replacement program for affected Macs. Hopefully, Apple will soon acknowledge the issue and the cause behind it, along with a cheaper repair program for users affected by the random screen cracks. It's already possible to see if your Mac has been recalled for some reason, which includes special cases like this.

Keeping Your Mac Clean

It's a smart idea to keep your device clean and free of dust. Dust that accumulates on or in your MacBook can cause various issues, such as unexpected shutdowns, excessive fan noise, poor performance, and more. Thus, keeping your device clean and free from dust is vital to it running properly.

See how to remove dust from your MacBook or iMac for a guide on keeping your device clean. Otherwise, you should always avoid putting anything on your laptop's keyboard, such as coins or your keys. It's all too easy to slam your laptop's screen shut and forget that something was under it.

Cracked Screens Ruin the MacBook Experience

An unknown issue is causing M1 MacBook screens to crack, and currently, there is no known fix apart from getting the screen replaced. If you happen to face the issue, your best bet is to take your system to an Apple store and get it fixed. We hope Apple will publicly address the issue soon.

Until then, take extra care with your MacBook and make sure you keep it free of dust and other debris.

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