iPad 2 goes on sale Friday, but beware the backlight leaks

Photo of an Apple iPad 2 showing light leakage around the edges of the screen. Courtesy of NiqueXyZ/Apple support forums.

Photo of an Apple iPad 2 showing light leakage around the edges of the screen. Courtesy of NiqueXyZ/Apple support forums.

It’s almost tragic. The iPad 2 has proven yet again that Apple’s “magical” device is still magical – at least as far as sales are concerned. The line ups for the latest Apple tablet in the U.S. have been unprecedented, and perhaps predictably, have led to shortages across the country and online where wait times are now pegged at 4-5 weeks.

And while many who have shown up at their local Apple store have been turned away disappointed and empty-handed, it has now come to light that still others who successfully acquired the much sought-after device are also disappointed – but for a very different reason.

Apple’s online support forums are slowly filling with complaints from iPad 2 buyers regarding a backlight leak problem.

Flickr user Aaron Harvey (aharvey2k) experienced the light leak problem with his iPad 2 and took this photo to document it. Used with permission of the photographer.

Flickr user Aaron Harvey (aharvey2k) experienced the light leak problem with his iPad 2 and took this photo to document it. Used with permission of the photographer.

Light leakage is a problem that can happen with any back-lit device. It occurs when the glass of the screen isn’t completely adhered to the chassis of the device – often a result of uneven or inadequate adhesive during the manufacturing process.

When this happens, blotchy pale areas can appear on the edges of the screen. Typically, it’s only noticeable when the screen is trying to show very dark background colours – effectively “blocking” the backlight. But because light is managing to escape  around the edges, it becomes visible as a localized “halo” effect.

A lot of people might never notice the problem. Some that do might not be bothered by it. But if you are the kind that notice it and dislike it, it can be a huge frustration – especially if you just spent 24 hours in line to drop $499 USD on a new gadget.

Now I have no doubt whatsoever that Apple will do the right thing for these customers and replace the defective units. But given the supply problems in the U.S., it’s hard to say when that replacement will come.

My advice to you if you are determined to be first in line for Friday’s Canadian launch of the iPad 2, is to ask your sales associate to let you open the box and turn the device on before leaving the store. Given the insane crowds the stores will be faced with, this won’t be a popular request. But the good news is that you should be able to tell if your unit has the problem almost immediately.

The start-up screen on i-devices is black, with the silver Apple logo in the middle. The start-up sequence takes about 15 seconds. During that time take a good look around the edges of the screen. Even in the bright store lights, you should be able to detect a bad leak as a slightly pale area on the otherwise dark screen, near the edge.

Good luck, and happy shopping!

[via Electronista]



  1. Denis

    Not a light leak. Glue that still has to dry. They produce them fast, it disapears within a few days. See iPhone 4 realease yellow screen issues.


  2. John

    It won’t bother the kids that support this inadequate device. Why would anyone pay this kind of money for what is basicly a giant ipod touch. This market share will shrink very quickly once the other leading brands come on line. It always amazes me why people flock to buy this over priced device.


  3. Robert

    I’m surprised there is no mention in this report of the adhesive issue Apple faced in China. Employee’s became ill from poisonous fumes and were forced to switch to an alcohol based adhesive.


  4. Brian

    Here we go again, with another Apple pushed out product that isn’t quite as good as they claim. Sure, they may add fancy stuff you can do to entice you to buy the “newest, greatest, latest”, but it surley isn’t the “bestest”, that’s for sure. And as for Apple doing the right thing and replacing defective units, good luck. Remember the iPhone, and how you had to hold it a certain way so you don’t block the signal, or the poor quality audio on the first iPods, or the very short battery life on the first iPods? Apple never did anything for these customers that forked out their cash, all they did was make a “newer, improved, better” model and put it to market so customers had to now ask “what generation is this model?” before forking out even more cash.
    Apple, a fashion statement, a inferior product with a fashionable design to suck money from the “easily swayed” public wanting to be the most fashionable at work or class.
    If Apple wants to impress me, make a quality product the first time for once. Stop using the public and their cash to work out your kinks!


  5. shane

    yeah, i will just wait for the 3rd or 4th, which we all know they are coming out with the next day or so. ha


  6. Ben Dover

    Another example of a good company going south due to cutting costs to manufacture their products at all costs, just so they can please their shareholders; consisting of fat-fingered, rich mutual fund owners and stock brokers. Unfortunately we have entered the age of company>consumer, and even the almighty apple is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of consumers yet again.


  7. BBJack

    Can I trade in my broken IPod Touch (home button is defective) for a broken IPad2 (light leak)? I need a bigger expensive paper weight.


  8. LA Gill

    I was first in line on March 11th at the Apple Store in Portland, OR – Pioneer Place.I waited over 12 hours in line. I purchased 2 iPads, one for me and one for my business partner, both were the 64gb, wifi/3G AT&T models, one in white and one in black. The black one is fine with no major light leaks or defective around the screen. The white one ( which is mine) has a major light leak in lower right hand corner and also some to the left of the home button and some on the upper right as well. So disappointed!!! Since I hadn’t opened my in the store on launch day, I didn’t notice it until a few days later while watching a video where the screen is black on the top and bottom. I called the store manager and she said to email me the info and they would call me when they got another one in and swap it out. That was last week and I haven’t heard anything. I actually took it in last weekend for the Genius bar guys to look at and see if others had complained. I didn’t get a lot of info except to say they would take care of me. The problem arises though at what point will they not exchange it for a new one…this Friday is the 14 day Return/exchange date and I really don’t want to pay $829 for a refurbished one. I guess at this point I may just keep the one I have and learn to love it as my own. By the way, my light leaks have not improved over time. I a long time Apple user since 1990. I am very frustrated with the defects they have had in their products these past few years. It’s just not OK. :-(


  9. Buzzman

    I was returning home to Canada last week when the Ipad launched in the U.S. I stopped at a Best Buy in Watertown (NY), just to kill some time while the wife was at Target, and I saw this huge lineup outside the door. I asked the attendant what was going on, and he explained that all these sheep were lined up waiting for the Ipad2 to be released at 4PM. Couldn’t believe it. Steve Jobs and Apple have brain washed so many people it’s scary. Their products are not that good, and they have had some serious quality issues, as outlined above by other posters. They also have a serious attitude problem now, as in “the Apple way, or the highway”. Reminds me of Bill Gates and Microsoft a few years ago. I will not buy any more Apple products in the future. As for the tablets, there are a lot of good units already available, and lots more coming on line in the near future. Check out the Motorola Zoom, for starters.


  10. Pingback: Video: Apple iPad 2 hands-on review | Sync™ Blog
  11. Pingback: Video Review: ‘Smart Covers’ for iPad 2 | Sync™ Blog
  12. Adam

    Had 3 iPad 2s all with dreadful backlight leaking. The last one looked like a soccer stadium there was light coming out at all angles onto the screen.

    Given them one last chance. Apple QC is junk.


  13. splooge

    We have bought 3 iPad2’s for our development and testing needs and I own one personally as well. One of the 3 development pads, as well as my personal one, arrived with terrible light leakage. Apple store replaced one of them so far and will replace the other when they get through the current wait-list. Yes, my local Apple Store still has a wait list for them and they get shipments a couple times a week. I only got mine last week, so no big deal. My leak is just in one corner and very minor, but they will swap it. Apple Genius guy told me that there’s very few returns on iPad2’s. Of the returns, all but a few he has encountered have been because of light leaks. One DOA iPad and a couple others where people decided they would return it because they decided they would rather have a different model.

    I’m not sure I understand the hate. Apple currently has the best tablet. Period. We have a Xoom tablet and I have personally held a Blackberry PlayBook tablet. We have apps in development for both of those platforms. Personally, I don’t care for the Xoom. Their marketing deserves a big, fat fail too. Only one of our clients so far has wanted a Xoom port for their app. Blackberry PlayBook is nice, I think it will do well.

    Overall build quality of the iPad and iPad2 is superior to the other tablet models. I have seen a Xoom with a light leak, for what it’s worth. But I think the current crop of iPad2’s have an issue with this. But I think it all comes down to them being produced in a frenzy with QC taking a back seat to delivering product.