TidBITS recently published an ExtraBITS link pointing at a Reddit thread claiming that Apple had removed reviews from the Apple Store page for the LG UltraFine 5K Display (see “Apple Pulls LG UltraFine 5K Display Reviews,” 23 January 2017). We have since learned that Apple had not at that point turned reviews on for that product, possibly because it was available only for pre-order for some time before shipping. In fact, Apple has now enabled ratings and reviews for the LG UltraFine 5K Display, with the screen garnering a 3.0 average rating and 79 user reviews of varying positivity.
Hence, the claim on Reddit that Apple removed negative user reviews cannot be true (and the original poster now says he was incorrect, though he stands by his criticism of the display). For confirmation, and this is what we should have done before publishing, we looked in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which showed that, from the time the LG UltraFine 5K Display page was first crawled on 5 November 2016 until this week, there have never been any user reviews. In addition, we confirmed that other products in the Apple Store with user reviews do show those reviews in the Wayback Machine, so it’s not just an anomaly with the Apple Store site.
In other words, we should never have published that ExtraBITS link. We regret both the error and calling into question behavior on Apple’s part that never took place. It’s important that readers be able to trust that we can back up any criticisms that we make, and while we were certainly not alone among news outlets in publicizing that Reddit thread, we should have checked more carefully before believing it.
That said, the question about whether the LG UltraFine 5K Display is suffering from an untoward number of problems remains valid. That question has come up quite a few times in the Apple Communities discussion boards. Most of those posts are compatibility queries, and there is no way to know how many users of the LG UltraFine 5K Display are experiencing no troubles, but a non-trivial number of problem reports remain unresolved:
It would be inappropriate for us to recommend for or against the LG UltraFine 5K Display without formal testing. Since it’s a new and unusual, if not unique, item that’s currently available only from Apple, the burden is on Apple to ensure that it works. If you’re interested in buying one, check out iMore’s review (particularly the compatibility information that points out you’ll get 5K only on a 2016 MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3) and be aware that you may experience more issues as an early adopter.