Home > Mac > Aluminium iMac 24″ screen displays patches, uneven brightness and dark spots saga recap

Aluminium iMac 24″ screen displays patches, uneven brightness and dark spots saga recap


My Aluminium iMac 24″ started to develop dark patches and black spots during the summer of 2008. It was well into it’s second year of Apple Care, so I was glad I’d purchased the extended cover.

—> For 27″ iMac story, click here.

Here is a picture of my disfigured screen, which I posted in the original blog entry.

picture of iMac screen showing mottled patches and uneven brightness

Dark patches are clearly visible on the left with the right hand obviously darker

My Intel ‘Aluminium’ iMac 24″ roasting with dark spots on screen

I first sent it in for repairs a couple of days after that, as detailed here.

My iMac 24″ comes back from repairs in record time.

My initial feeling of satisfaction remained for almost a year, and the screen performed flawlessly for most of it. But as time progressed, I couldn’t help noticing that the bottom left hand corner was

was subdued by the quality of the second screen which was much lower than the original it replaced. I contacted Apple again and sent the screenshot below.

iMac 24" screen showing darkened left hand region

The lower left region was less than half as bright as the centre of the screen.

A call back from a more senior engineer suggested a further replacement screen.

So, I zeroed my drive, reinstalled tiger and sent it back with screenshots and explanations saved to the desktop.

The machine came back a couple of days later and no sooner had I powered it up than a horrible feeling came over me.

Second New Screen

The second replacement was just ghastly. After leaving it to “warm up” for an hour, I took the above screenshot. I didn’t even reinstall. I just put it straight back in the box, contacted Apple again and had the bloody thing replaced forthwith.

iMac screenshot showing bandind down left hand side and darker central region

This screen clearly shows striping down the left hand side and a dark central region

This time, a more senior member of staff contacted me, since this was now the third time to “fix” the problem.

She explained that the next screen would be the final screen I would be able to receive, since a screen could be replaced a maximum of three times.

So I explained to her that in actual fact, the screen would be replaced as many times as was necessary to ensure that I could do my work on it again, as I had done when I first purchased it. She seemed a little surprised by the concept.

I explained that the new screens were clearly inferior in clarity, regularity and colour balance and were clearly a different make from the originals. She would neither confirm nor deny this.

Once more she asked me to realise that this would be the last free replacement they would give, and I was once more forced to explain that this was not a favour to a mate, this was in order to fulfill the legal requirement of “fit for purpose” and obey advertising standards as on their original advert: A built-in professional grade screen perfect for editing photos and videos, and serious graphical applications, the screen was far from professional or perfect.

I asked for the screen to be fully tested and have an engineer report the fact to me before returning the machine, a demand to which she acceded graciously.

The engineer called and said that the screen had been calibrated for both colour and brightness and was found to be well within specifications.

Great! Finally, we were getting somewhere… Surely this time, the machine would have a lovely, clear screen, like the one it first came with.

The computer came back the next day.

I fired it up.

Bong. Came the chime.  It was immediately and, by this point, unsurprisingly apparent that this screen was also substandard.

iMac screenshot showing a dark band along the centre of the screen.

This screen shows a terrible, dark band on the left hand side

I contacted Apple again and this time, they put me straight back though to the lady in charge. I showed her the picture above and asked her if this was typical Apple quality.

No she admitted…

I asked her who had tested the screen and who had assured me that it was within spec. She couldn’t release the information, she said, but she would speak with him before contacting me back.

An hour later the phone rang and with an apologetic tone, the lady asked me to send the machine back in and confirmed that “some irregularities in the testing procedures had been found.”

Off it went.

The next day, a call from the chief engineer confirmed that the screen was below standard. But since there were no more screens of the original standard, the next screen might well be of the same quality or even worse. But, if I was not satisfied with the next screen, I could have the whole machine replaced.

The machine was back in my hands the next day, with another substandard screen, with almost the same patterns of distortion as the second replacement I’d received.

Screen shot of iMac showing banding and colour shift

This photo clearly shows the nasty banding on the left, a dark central region and a severely pink-tinted right hand edge.

‘Since there are no more 24″ iMacs in stock, I’m afraid we are going to have to replace it with a different model. But we guarantee that it will be of at least the same spec or higher than your last model.”

“Whatever,” I said resignedly, as long as the screen is clear.

Two days later, the machine below arrived on my doorstep.

Intel iMac 27"

The new iMac 27" with LCD backlit screen.

Now we’re talking…

Thank you Apple. It was a long and winding road, but well worth it. A machine nearly 3 years newer than the one it replaced. Although they had some quality control issues, they were constantly polite, attentive and very forthcoming with “fixes”.

Here’s another satisfied Apple customer (albeit with caveats).

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  1. Snehasis Roy
    December 30, 2010 at 2:29 am

    I have the patches appearing within 3 months of a brand new imac screen. Now on 5th month that has increased in area.

    What can I do ? I love my imac for performance but must point out the poor quality of its screen. At office and with friends, the story of patchy screen of imac repeats. I don’t think apple has a solution for this. I am sadly disappointed.

    • nanchatte
      February 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      Did you buy AppleCare? I always calculate the cost of the computer +24000 yen as being the “Real” price of an iMac (I’ve never bothered on a mac mini).
      I think you still have 4 or 5 months to make a claim on the original guarantee… Remember that you can purchase AppleCare at any time within the first year of ownership…. I’m just going to pick up AppleCare on my iMac 27″ which Apple gave me on the 15th March last year as a replacement for my 2 year 9 month old AppleCare covered 24″ that Apple Japan were unable to repair to my satisfaction.
      I consider 48000 yen for 6 years of peace a reasonable (not cheap, though) investment for the shear beauty and functionality of my iMacs.

  2. David
    February 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Hi, I just got the same problem, my iMac 27″ screen luminosity was flickering these days and today the left half has lost nearly 50%. I guess I will have to fight with the tech support like you did. :-/

  3. Waylon Johnston
    February 25, 2011 at 4:16 am

    I have the same problem with the banding!!!! on my 24″ inch however I do not have apple care and the no warranty as the computer is 2 years old. I don’t want to pay for a new screen as i feel this is a manufacturing fault and not mine what should i do???

    • nanchatte
      July 12, 2011 at 2:16 am

      It’s always worth contacting Apple and being polite but firm, regarding the screen and how you believe it is a manufacturing fault. Apple have been known to replace equipment outside of warranty.

  4. Sue
    May 10, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    My 27″ iMac purchased in Oct 2008 has recently began to have brown/yellowish shadows running up each side of the screen. Noticed it about 2 mos. ago. Everything else is still pretty much perfect. Suggestions?

    • nanchatte
      July 12, 2011 at 2:16 am

      See above reply.

  5. Marcel
    June 23, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I read the article here because I have a very similar issue with my Apple 24″ LED Cinema Display. In fact I think the display is simply dirty under the glass, that is why you have some darker, smudgy areas (as seen on your screenshots and in article https://nanchatte.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/imac-27-screen-displays-dark-stains-patches/ ). Good news is that you can clean it, but it is under the glass. Therefore i searched and found this article:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=780466

    On the other hand you should read this article too (old but still worth to read and helps maybe too):

    http://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/4787/iMac+screen+discolored+%28smudgy%29

    • nanchatte
      July 4, 2011 at 11:47 am

      Marcel,

      thanks for the links… unfortunately, the problems we are suffering are within the sealed LCD unit itself and not behind the glass… It’s easy to see how “deep” the shadowing is by moving your head left to right… if you see by parallax that the stain is behind the visual plane, somewhere between the pixels and the backlight directing lens then you have the issue we have and it is not user fixable. If it were, Apple would have refused my 6 replacements followed by brand new upgrade from 24″ to 27″ and subsequent two replacements! Apple service is good, but they’d never replace a screen 9 times without reason.

  6. September 16, 2011 at 7:38 am

    I’m really glad to have found this article because I’m currently experiencing the same problem. Mine is really noticeable and has a brownish tint to it. I wonder if it’s cause of how the computer is so closed in and heat just builds up inside. I use mine a lot because I’m a photographer and a graphic designer, but sadly I can’t easily send mine off for repairs or replacements since I live in the Northern Marianas. I bought mine in 07 too, but I’m moving to Georgia in a few months from now. The computer is under Apple Care, but I bet my coverage expired. Don’t want to sell it cause it’s been with me for so long and don’t think I can save up the money anytime soon to replace it. Even though it doesn’t completely bother me as much, I hope that if I do call them in about it, they may be able to replace it some how. But as you mentioned, the 24″ inch line is not being produced anymore so I wonder how my case will be treated lol.

  1. November 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm
  2. November 25, 2010 at 11:31 pm
  3. March 15, 2011 at 12:56 am

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