June 18, 2024

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Apple’s thinner, lighter OLED iPads are set to release in 2024


Other than the iPhone SE, every new iPhone features an OLED panel. Apple completed the transition in 2020 when the iPhone 12 lineup got OLED screens. But Apple hasn’t made the switch to OLED for iPads, despite working on OLED screens for tablets for several years. The technology isn’t ready, with a report saying that the first OLED iPad will release in 2024.

Apple is thinking beyond mini-LED screens

Apple unveiled its mini-LED displays last year, which are an alternative to OLED panels. But only three Apple devices currently feature mini-LED displays: The 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The advantage of mini-LED screens over traditional LCD screens concerns the overall display experience. You can expect better brightness, better blacks, and an improved contrast ratio and HDR. On top of that, the mini-LED screens that Apple uses support ProMotion, or refresh rates of up to 120Hz.

But Apple isn’t ready to bring this “pro” display technology to more tablets and laptops. We’ve heard for years that Apple has been developing OLED panels for the iPad and MacBook, which should join the mini-LED and LCD screens in Apple’s computers.

iPad Air (2022) Bezels
Left: iPad Air | Right: iPad Pro Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

It was never clear which screen technology would be the best for iPads and MacBooks. OLED seems to be the clear choice for iPhone, but Apple hasn’t been able to replicate that strategy for devices with bigger screens. Or it hasn’t been satisfied with what its suppliers can offer.

As a reminder, Samsung has been using OLED panels on its own tablets for quite a while now. Samsung is the dominant player when it comes to manufacturing OLED panels for smartphones and Samsung Display is also the principal iPhone screen supplier.

OLED iPad release date set for 2024

About a year ago, a report from Korea said that Apple wanted a particular type of OLED technology for the iPad, one that Samsung wasn’t willing to deliver. That report noted that the OLED iPad’s release date might have been pushed back to 2023 or 2024 because of the setback.

A brand new story from the same country now says that Apple will launch the first OLED iPad in 2024. Per ETNews, the OLED iPad will bring a few significant upgrades to Apple’s tablet.

OLED screens will deliver more than just image quality improvements. Apple will also reduce the size of the panel, which will lead to a lighter iPad.

The report doesn’t mention which type of iPads would get the OLED panel. But Apple has been taking its time with the technology. The company reportedly created different prototypes and put them through various tests. Apple is now producing the final prototypes for the OLED panels.

Apple's iPad lineup as of March 2022
Apple’s iPad lineup as of March 2022. Image source: Apple Inc.

Furthermore, ETNews says that the OLED iPad will deliver the first dry etching process for the screen. That’s a chemical technology that removes unnecessary parts from thin film transistor (TFT) circuit patterns. And dry etching will let Apple reduce the thickness and weight of the OLED screen.

Apple is also developing special coatings to increase the durability of the resulting thin OLED panel. Samsung and LG Display will supposedly manufacture the screens.

Why OLED might be bigger than mini-LED

The report doesn’t provide any specs for the OLED panel inside future iPads. Nor does it mention which iPad models will use the OLED screens. Similarly, ETNews doesn’t mention a firm release date for the OLED iPad.

But the report does say that OLED panel makers will increase investments in small and medium-sized OLED facilities. The Korean display industry has high expectations from the OLED iPad market.

This implies that Apple might bring OLED screens to many iPads in the near future. That would certainly be an exciting development for iPad fans. And the only way to convince suppliers to increase investments in new OLED screen plants.

More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.


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