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Comment: Rumors about iPad models with OLED are not as unlikely as you might think


Comment: Rumors about iPad models with OLED are not as unlikely as you might think

According to a new report from ETNews, Apple will use OLED panels in select iPad models, which was previously anticipated by respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. While it may appear implausible given Apple's current attempts to promote mini-LED in the iPad Pro, the reports could be true.

Comment Rumors about iPad models with OLED are not as unlikely as you might think

Apple was working with both Mini-LED and OLED panels for future iPads, according to Ming-Chi Kuo earlier this year. With the M1 iPad Pro, which comes with a Mini-LED display in its 12.9-inch variant, part of his forecast has come true.

Meanwhile, no OLED iPad models have been released, but more insiders have “confirmed” that the business is currently working on future tablet devices using this display technology. But why would Apple employ OLED in other iPad models if it invested in Mini-LED for the iPad Pro instead of adopting OLED?

As implausible as it may seem, there may be a compelling reason for Apple to employ OLED in future iPads – and that reason could be Micro-LED. But first, let me clarify the fundamental differences between OLED, Mini-LED, and Micro-LED displays.

Technologies for displaying information

OLED screens, unlike LCD displays, do not use a backlight because each pixel produces its own light. As a result, because the brightness levels are adjusted individually for each pixel, OLED displays have deeper blacks and greater contrast ratios. The disadvantage is that OLED is more prone to burn-in and has lower brightness levels than ordinary LEDs.

Mini-LED is a replacement for OLED, which is better in certain aspects but not in others. Thousands of microscopic LEDs are grouped in multiple dimming zones in mini-LED screens. The 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro display, for example, features over 10,000 LEDs in 2,500 dimming zones.

Although the brightness is higher than on an OLED display and the blacks are deeper than on a conventional LCD panel, and Mini-LED doesn't suffer from burn-in, the local dimming isn't as accurate as on OLED — as shown in the image below. That's because 10,000 LEDs won't provide the same level of precision as millions of pixels controlled individually.

Then there's the Micro-LED, a new technology that operates similarly to the Mini-LED but uses one microscope LED for each pixel in the display. In other words, Micro-LED produces results that are similar to OLED, but with better brightness and no burn-in.

iPad models with OLED displays at the entry level

According to prior rumors, Apple was hesitant to include OLED in the iPad Pro due to the risk of burn-in. True, iPhones already have a brilliant OLED display, but they're smaller, and you probably don't use the same app on your phone for hours at a time. However, because some individuals use the iPad Pro for extended periods of time, an OLED display may cause a burn-in nightmare.

Another crucial factor to consider is brightness. The iPad Pro display can now reach 1,000 nits of maximum brightness in full screen mode, and even 1,600 nits with HDR content, thanks to Mini-LED. In comparison, the iPhone 12 Pro's OLED display only hits 800 nits, with a high of 1,200 for HDR video.

The 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro with Mini-LED display is like having a smaller version of Apple's Pro Display XDR for professionals working with HDR picture and video editing. However, while Mini-LED is fantastic, it does have some drawbacks (such as the “blooming” effect), and I have no doubt that Apple will replace it with Micro-LED whenever that technology becomes more inexpensive.

Mini-LEDs, in my opinion, are a transitional technology. It's better than OLED in certain aspects for what professionals require, but it's not a long-term solution — which is why we shouldn't be concerned. On the other hand, OLED is becoming increasingly popular. While it doesn't have a lot of brightness, OLED could be the perfect display for future iPads that need deeper blacks.


Wrap-around OLED may appear more appealing than Mini-LED since it allows for more precise local dimming, but that will no longer be the case once Micro-LED technology is available. So, the iPad Pro with Micro-LED display and the iPad Air (and likely the entry-level iPad) with OLED screens, which are already cheaper than current Mini-LED panels, are my predictions for future iPad models.

It's also worth noting that, according to a 2019 report, Apple intends to bring Micro-LED to the iPhone, reinforcing the idea that Micro-LED will be the ultimate option for premium products in the next years.

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