Apple to use mini-LED displays on up to 40% of iPads next year

Apple to use mini-LED displays on up to 40% of iPads next year
The Apple Watch has used OLED since its inception over five years ago and soon every new iPhone model will take advantage of the technology too. But reports suggest Apple is already looking towards the next generation of mobile displays.

The world of mini-LED is more competitive than first thought

A new research note by reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors) claims Apple has decided in recent weeks to accelerate the adoption of mini-LED display technology on both the iPad and Mac product lines. 

The move comes amid a noticeable increase in competition among mini-LED display chip suppliers. Kuo says that Epistar was originally meant to be the exclusive supplier of mini-LED display chips for Apple next year. 

However, rival Sanan Optoelectronics has experienced better and faster than expected development in recent months and has now secured a lucrative agreement with Apple to supply the necessary display chips starting sometime in 2021 rather than 2022.

As a direct result of this, Ming-Chi Kuo believes this development will significantly drive down the cost of mini-LED displays for Apple. The panels were initially expected to cost $75-85 each but could now drop down to as little as $45 next year. 

Up to 40% of iPads will use mini-LED displays in 2021

Apple looks set to use mini-LED technology on roughly 20-30% of MacBook shipments and an impressive 30-40% of all iPad shipments in 2021. That's a massive increase over the original estimates of 10-20% for both sets of products. 

Sanan Optoelectronics will likely account for around 20-30% of all mini-LED orders in 2021 and an even higher 45-55% of shipments the following year. Epistar, on the other hand, will handle the remaining orders unless Apple finds another supplier, in which case they'll presumably be split.  

The Silicon Valley-based company has plans for at least six mini-LED products to be released by the end of 2021, according to Kuo. Leading the way will be a 12.9-inch iPad Pro which may support 5G. It'll be accompanied by a 7.9-inch iPad mini and a future version of the 10.2-inch budget iPad.

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On the Mac front, Apple is working on 16-inch and 14.1-inch MacBook Pro models with mini-LED displays, as well as a 27-inch iMac Pro all-in-one.

Nevertheless, delays are still very much possible. Ming-Chi Kuo warns in his investor note that everything from the trade tensions between the US and China to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could impact production in some form.

The benefits of mini-LED displays over LCD displays

For those of you that don't yet know, mini-LED display technology is essentially the next-generation of LCD technology rather than OLED. It offers countless benefits and much better replicates the performance of OLED without some of the key drawbacks.

Mini-LED panels can use anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 individual LEDs. These enable support for much higher contrast ratios paired with increased maximum brightness levels and noticeably better power efficiency, which is always welcome. 

Because mini-LED uses no organic matter, the displays are much less prone to burn-in than OLED, which means they'll last longer while still offering the deeper blacks and richer colors that people love. 

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