There have been a number of issues with Apple laptops over the years, and some of these also have service programmes that have been announced by Apple. In certain cases it is crucial to get the part replaced as some Apple laptops have been banned from flights as they pose a fire-risk. We'll detail Apple's recall programmes below.

The 2018 MacBook Air is the latest Mac laptop to encounter an issue that may be addressed by a free repair. As we will explain below, a small number of the redesigned MacBook Air laptops have a logic board problem. Apple if offering free repairs to qualifying laptops.

Another recent issue to hit Apple's laptops, this time the MacBook Pro, was a potentially overheating battery, for which Apple has also issued a recall, more information about that below, including news that affected laptops are now being banned on European, US, and Canadian flights.

There are also well publicised problems with the keyboard on Apple's laptops. We detail those issues in a separate story here: MacBook Keyboard issues.

MacBook Pro

MacBook Pro Battery Recall and Flight Ban

CertainMacBook Pro models have been banned from flights following Apple’s recall of certain models from September 2015 and February 2017. Some of these MacBook Pro models are fitted with batteries that “may overheat and pose a fire safety risk,” according to Apple.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has alerted airlines to the recall. This means that if you are flying to or inside America, you won’t be able to take a recalled MacBook Pro on as carry-on luggage, nor will you be able to check it in as cargo.

According to Bloomberg, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency issued warnings about these MacBook Pro models earlier in August.

Various airlines managed by Total Cargo Expertise, including TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat, have implemented a complete ban on these laptops, with employees told: “The 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro laptop, sold between mid-2015 to February-2017 is prohibited on board any of our mandate carriers.”

Other airlines may only require devices with recalled lithium-ion batteries to be switched off and not used during flights.

Laptops that have replaced batteries won’t be impacted, according to a TUI spokesperson who spoke to Bloomberg. We assume that you would need to prove that the battery replacement has taken place.

The ban relates to Apple's 20 June 2019 voluntary recall of some 15in MacBook Pro units which contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk, according to the company. 

If you own a unit purchased between September 2015 and February 2017 - known as MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) - it may be part of this recall. You'll be able to identify whether it's included in the recal by the serial number which can be found by clicking on the Apple Logo and choosing About This Mac.

In a press release the company stated that: "Because customer safety is a top priority, Apple is asking customers to stop using affected 15-inch MacBook Pro units."

Visit Apple's website here to find out if you are eligible to the battery replaced. Enter your computer's serial number on the program page to see if it is eligible for a battery replacement. If you are the switch will be free of charge.

Logic board swaps for MacBook Airs

Apple has revealed that some MacBook Air models may suffer from a problem that may require their logic board to be replaced.

Owners who qualify for the repair program will received an email if they haven't already.

It's not clear what the problem is, but Apple's soltuioon seems to be to replace the logic board.

MacBook Air

Baclkight Service Program

As of May 2019 Apple has a Backlight Service Program running for 13in MacBook Pro purchased between October 2016 and February 2018.

These laptops may:

  • Display backlight continuously or intermittently shows vertical bright areas along the entire bottom of the screen
  • Display backlight stops working completely

Apple will service qualifying laptops for free. These include:

  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

Data loss or drive failure

Apple recognised an issue with non Touch Bar models of the 13in MacBook Pro sold between June 2017 and June 2018.

The company stated that "a limited number of 128GB and 256GB solid-state drives (SSD) used in 13-inch MacBook Pro (non Touch Bar) units have an issue that may result in data loss and failure of the drive."

Apple will fix the issue for free if your MacBook Pro is eligible. There is more information here.

MacBook Pro popping speakers

Shortly after the 2016 MacBook Pro got into users' hands, reports of loud crackling and popping noises through the speakers started to appear on community forums. It was initially thought that, the noises only occurred if the user boots into Microsoft Windows using Boot Camp. However, one Macworld reader has commented that:

"I have a 2017 MacBook Pro and I had speakers replaced 2 times due to them popping. And I had not installed Windows, it all happened in MacOS. So it is 100% a hardware issue and not Boot Camps fault."

Some users even reported that their MacBook Pro speakers were permanently damaged by the noises when Windows was booted, which subsequently meant the speakers no longer worked then they booted back into macOS. The right speaker in particular seems to be affected in this way.

The problem doesn't appear to have gone away. Reports suggest that the 2018 MacBook Pro is also facing issues with the speakers.

There are reports on Reddit and YouTube from users who are experiencing a cracking sound from the speakers, even at a relatively low volume.

"The crackling noise is noticeable after a few minutes whilst listening to audio files or YouTube type of websites," claimed one Reddit poster who had his new MacBook Pro replaced and found that the issue remained. He suspects that it’s the drivers. Other posters suspect that it’s a firmware issue.

It's not clear if the crackles and pops are caused by a logic board issue or perhaps just poor audio drivers within Windows. The latter seems the most likely, although as our commenter suggested, it could be a hardware issue.

You'll know if you're affected by this issue because, obviously, you'll hear the noises described above should you boot into Windows. Interestingly, if you access Windows via virtualisation software like VMware Fusion or Parallels then the issue does not arise.

The issue with the Boot Camp drivers was addressed by a software update, so if you use Boot Camp to boot into Windows, make sure you run the latest version or use a different virtualisation app instead. 

You could also ensure that headphones are attached via the 3.5mm audio jack before using Boot Camp to boot into Windows, as this will avoid the MacBook Pro's speakers being used. The crackling/pops will not be heard in the headphones. Notably, users affected by the issue report that simply turning the volume control down has no effect; the loud crackling and pops continue.

If your MacBook Pro has been damaged by the crackles and pops then you should be able to make a warranty claim with Apple.

MacBook Pro SSD/Logic Board issues

Apple confirmed that the 2017 MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) is affected by a problem with function keys.

In a memo distributed to Apple Stores in June 2018, Apple wrote that it had “identified a specific population of MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports) units requiring both solid state drives and the main logic board to be replaced when either has a functional failure,” via MacRumors.

Apparently, if either the SSD or logic board inside the 2017 MacBook Pro fails, it will be necessary to replace both components.

The note indicates that Apple has authorised free repairs for this issue, even if the unit is out of warranty.

MacBook Pro USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 issues

There are reports that not all USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 adapters work correctly with the 2016 MacBook Pro models.

For example, unauthorised Mac repair guy and YouTube star Louis Rossmann noted in a hands-on review (warning: includes significant bad language!) that some USB-C adapters not only slowed down his 13in non-Touch Bar 2016 MacBook Pro but also appeared to slow or entirely kill the MacBook Pro's Wi-Fi connection. The adapters worked perfectly with a Dell laptop.

Meanwhile, Mac developer Khaos Tian has not only discovered that some third-party Thunderbolt 3 docks don't work with the new 2016 MacBook Pro but even got a response from somebody at Apple implying that non-Apple certified models are unlikely ever to be supported.

MacBook Pro not working: How to fix USB-C problems

Buying only Apple's own USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 adapters is the obvious solution. Buying third-party adaptors or docks will probably be cheaper but, as Apple says, only those certified by Apple are guaranteed to work - and there's still relatively few of those.

If you have a Thunderbolt 3 dock that's incompatible then Khaos Tian has detailed a hack that might fix it but it's very technical in nature and not for beginners.

Apple might provide a future update to macOS Sierra to include support for non-compatible USB-C/Thunderbolt hardware but knowing Apple like we do - and coupled to the fact they have their own range of adapters - we wouldn't hold our breath waiting for a fix. To be honest, if you're affected then we reckon it's best to bite the bullet and get new Apple-approved adapters.

MacBook Pro graphics failures

Reports of failing MacBook Pros have been flooding in since 2013, with many owners of 2011 models with AMD graphics suffering from system crashes and hardware problems that have been described as "critical". After a long wait, Apple finally announced a repair programme, and we've got all the details here. For coverage of similar programmes covering MacBooks and other Apple products, read our guide to Apple product recalls & free repair programmes.

On 19 February 2015 Apple announced a repair program for some MacBook Pro models suffering from the graphics issues described below.

It was not officially a replacement program, but instead is titled "MacBook Pro Repair Extension Program for Video Issues."

On its support page, Apple revealed it has determined "that a small percentage of MacBook Pro systems may exhibit distorted video, no video or unexpected system restarts".

The specific symptoms described by Apple include distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen, no video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on, and the computer restarts unexpectedly.

The products initially included in the repair program were the 15in and 17in MacBook Pro models manufactured in 2011, and 15in MacBook Pro with Retina models manufactured from Mid 2012 to Early 2013. The MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011), MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011), MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011) and the MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012) and MacBook Pro (Retina, 15 inch, Early 2013). However, with the program only lasting four years kit is now too late to qualify for the repair.

Here's how to find out what model of Mac you've got; if your Mac is out of action thanks to the graphics issue, you may find it easier to type in your serial number here.

The problem, first emerged in February 2013 and escalated throughout 2014 as more and more owners of the affected models began to experience issues. While playing games, watching HD video or performing another graphics-intensive task, users have witnessed their displays distorting, or sometimes going completely blank. Rebooting the machine temporarily resolves the issue, but it almost always returns.

Eventually, many users found that their MacBook boots to a blue or grey screen. Currently, the only permanent resolution is to get a replacement logic board, but that can prove quite costly without Apple Care. It's believed that overheating is to blame for the issue.

Some of the readers who've been in touch have said that Apple has replaced their 2011 MacBook Pro's logic board thanks to Apple Care, with some customers even claiming to have had their logic board replaced multiple times.

In the past, Apple has offered replacement hard drives for iMacs containing 1TB Seagate hard drives that have been known to fail, replacement MagSafe adapters, iBook logic board replacements back in 2004, and, most recently, a MacBook Air flash storage drive replacement programme for June 2012 to June 2013 models.

Concerned owners of afflicted MacBooks have set up a Facebook page and a petition.

What to do if your Mac needs to be repaired

If your Mac is eligible for repair, you'll now need to back up your Mac laptop and then bring it to an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorised Service Provider. An Apple technician will then run a diagnostic test to verify eligibility, and let you know how long it'll take to repair.

Note, however, that if there is other damage to your MacBook Pro that "prevents the repair" such as a cracked screen, they'll charge you for the replacement of that. Aside from that, though, the repair program is completely free (and so it should be!).

You'll be notified when your MacBook Pro has been fixed and is ready to be collected, and fingers crossed the issue will have been resolved.

Are you a MacBook laptop owner experiencing an issue? Let us know!