Surface Pro 4 owners are putting their tablets in freezers to fix screen flickering issues

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Hundreds of Surface Pro 4 owners have been complaining about screen flickering issues on their tablets. A thread over at Microsoft’s support forums shows that the problems have been occurring for more than a year, and most devices affected are out of warranty. Dubbed “Flickergate,” a website to report the issues claims at least 1,600 Surface Pro 4 owners have experienced the screen flickering problems.

The flickering appears to be a hardware issue, which occurs after the device heats up during use. “We are aware that some customers have experienced a screen flicker on Surface Pro 4 and are monitoring the situation closely,” says a Microsoft spokesperson, in a statement to The Verge. Customers impacted by this should contact Microsoft support.”

Some owners have even started freezing their tablets to stop the screen flickering temporarily. “I get about half an hour’s use out of it after ten minutes in the freezer,” says one owner. Another user posted a video showing how the flickering stops as soon as the Surface Pro 4 is placed in a freezer. The Verge understands that the screen flickering problem is a hardware issue that Microsoft won’t be able to fix with a software update. It’s currently affecting less than 1 percent of all Surface Pro 4 devices.

While Microsoft recommends that owners contact their support lines, devices are generally out of warranty when the problems start occurring. Some affected users have reported paying $800 for an out-of-warranty exchange with Microsoft to fix the hardware issue, although Microsoft’s support site lists the cost for a screen replacement at $450. “Surface Pro’s are marketed and priced as premium devices,” says the Flickergate group. “Microsoft should therefore respond accordingly by acknowledging the issue and offering a solution. If the issue is a hardware fault, then Microsoft should recall affected devices.”

Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

The Surface Pro 4 issues come months after Consumer Reports removed its “recommend” badge from Microsoft’s entire lineup of Surface PCs because the hardware was found to be less reliable than other PC brands. Microsoft experienced issues with Surface Book sleep problems previously, and the company had to issue a firmware update to fix battery failures with the Surface Pro 3.

Attorneys at Migliaccio & Rathod LLP previously won a class action case against Lenovo involving defective laptops, which resulted in a classwide settlement. The law firm is investigating Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 battery failures, and has also received complaints about the Surface Pro 4 screen flickering problems. “We are still considering our options,” says Nicholas Migliaccio, a partner at Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, in an interview with The Verge. “We’ve received a number of inquiries over time with other issues beyond the battery issue, beyond flickering. People have a variety of problems, but if we’re looking at problems we’re looking at the common ones.”

It’s not clear if any class action suits will be filed against Microsoft over some of these Surface issues, but it looks like affected owners will have to replace units or try and fix them. That might be easier said than done, though: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and even the latest Surface Pro received 1 or 2 out of 10 on iFixit reparability scale, making them difficult or even impossible to repair yourself.

Update February 2nd, 5AM ET: Added Microsoft’s official support charge for Surface Pro 4 screen replacements.

Comments

Very few companies will replace hardware out of warranty unless a problem hits critical mass. Otherwise I could just punch my screen and get a new laptop. We’ll see if 1600 is enough.

Apple would actually replace that screen for free if you had Apple Care. Apple replaced my cousin’s iPhone screen 3 times for free after he dropped it, since he purchased it with Apple care. I guess if loads of people started purposefully damaging their devices there would be a policy change. But for the moment it’s pretty good customer support.

That must be outside the norm, because Apple charges a service fee to replace a screen through Apple Care.

Not if it’s a defect.

Sure, which is what warranties are for. OP’s example was from user-inflicted damage.

I wasn’t replying to OP. I was replying to TheEveryman who did not clarify that they only charge for user inflicted damage under warranty.

Context is an important thing to consider before jumping into a conversation.

if you had Apple Care

That’s the entire point of paying for premium/extended warranties. This article addresses the manufacturer’s warranty specifically.

"For free". Apple Care is a paid extended warranty. I paid $200 for "spill" protection for 2 years for my Surface Pro 3 way back when (Apple Care for Mac is around the same). I could have chucked my surface against a wall and gotten a replacement.

These plans usually also charge a deductible (Apple charges $99 per "incident") if it’s not just a flaw in the product.

Some owners =<10

Are you saying there are less than 10 surface pro owners on earth? That’s mean but probably true.

I see them everywhere on college campuses.

Do not seem less than 10 in /r/Surface

LG just payed out for boot loop scandal

Paid.

I just had a SP4 replaced out of warranty because I dropped it and smashed the screen. It was $450, not $800.

"Some affected users have reported paying $800 for an out-of-warranty exchange with Microsoft to fix the hardware issue."

Where does it say that it was only a screen replace?

Exactly, it could easily be a problem like LG has that requires the entire logic board to be replaced.

I got a completely replaced device for $450. Same thing you would get to fix this problem. They don’t really repair Surfaces.

Yeah, it’s too bad they don’t make them easier to repair.

Yeah, I wish I could add some RAM too.

My $450 replacement was an entire device replacement. It was not a screen repair.

Lol I didn’t have this problem on my SP4 but I’ve got zero sympathy for MS on this one – my unit would completely lock up and require a forced restart during the first month I had mine. Like how does that kinda thing not get noticed before its boxed up and sent out?

Not hardware is exactly the same. Maybe an update caused issues. You can easily take it back within a month to be checked out even without a protection plan. Defective units do happen.

I have a surface. I agree with all the other surface owners. Its a product that was good in theory and in true ms style, executed so so poorly.

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