Apple’s four-generation display journey
We talked last year about Apple’s display roadmap:
- IPS LCD with conventional backlighting. This is still used in older Macs and cheaper iPhones.
- IPS LCD with miniLED backlighting. Apple switched to this for iPad Pro models, and is now using it in the new MacBook Pro. It allows for darker blacks and brighter whites, and makes a surprising difference.
- OLED. Apple first adopted this in the Apple Watch before bringing it to the iPhone, starting with the iPhone X. Apple has not yet used this in either iPads or MacBooks, but is expected to do so sometime in the 2023-2026 timeframe.
- MicroLED. Despite the similarity in name to miniLED, this is a completely different technology. It’s effectively a much more sophisticated version of OLED. It’s brighter, more power-efficient, and doesn’t suffer from burn-in. Apple’s interest in microLED dates back to at least 2014, and while there have been some signs of progress, this tech is still at a very early stage of development. As with OLED, it’s likely to come first to the Apple Watch, then iPhone, iPad, and Macs, in that order.
We are expecting Apple to launch at least one new iPad model this year – likely at an October event – but nobody is now predicting that these will include an OLED model.
Earlier hybrid screen report
A supply chain report last week said that Apple was expected to use a hybrid glass-polyamide film display for the first OLED iPad.
Flexible polyamide film offers the flexibility needed for the small bezels on current iPhone models, as well as other benefits over glass. It’s easier to work with, cheaper to produce, and is lighter. It does risk a tiny amount of warping, but this is too small to be seen with the naked eye.
The problem comes when you scale it up to the larger panels used on iPads. Here, that warping can become visible, so Apple is expected to opt for a hybrid panel using a mix of glass and film substrates.
Twin-layer OLED iPad screen
Today’s report, also from The Elec, says that the company will also use an advanced new OLED tech being developed by both Samsung and LG. Known as “two stack tandem OLED,” this uses two layers of pixels instead of one.
Apple is expected to launch its first OLED iPad in 2024 with a two-stack tandem OLED panel […]
Single stack OLED means there is one red, green and blue emission layer while two stack tandem OLED means there is one more additional layer.
Having two RGB emission layers stacked in tandem increases the brightness of the screen while also extending its life, making the technology more optimal for tablets and PCs that are used longer than smartphones.
This tech is compatible with hybrid panels.
As with miniLED, the tech will come first to iPad Pro models.
This year’s new iPad Pro, however, is expected to stick to IPS LCD with miniLED backlighting. You can learn more about what we’re expecting in our preview of an Apple October event.
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