UPDATE: Additional details regarding Apple's OLED iPad plans have been published. The updated story continues below.
After more than a decade of releasing LCD tablets, this year Apple is widely expected to start transitioning the iPad line over to mini-LED displays, beginning with the iPad Pro (2021) series
The more advanced panels offer higher levels of contrast and brightness without massively increasing costs, but a new report suggests that mini-LED tech might just be a stepping stone toward OLED, at least in the eyes of Apple.
The first OLED iPad could arrive in early 2022
Supply chain sources speaking to Taiwanese publication DigiTimes
) have revealed that Apple is planning to release at least one OLED-equipped iPad in 2022, a claim that corroborates a December research note by analysts at Barclays, who said such a device wouldn’t arrive until 2022 at the earliest.
The first OLED iPad is reported to be a 10.9-inch model set for release in the first quarter of 2022, so it could be a next-generation iPad Air. Mass production is scheduled to kick off in the final quarter of 2021, per the sources.
OLED panels offer event better contrast and brightness levels, but they're also much more expensive. Therefore, it makes sense for Apple
to initially offset the additional costs with a pricier tablet, like the iPad Air, that can also be produced in higher volumes.
Apple is considering using OLED displays on a future generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro
and 16-inch MacBook Pro too. A final decision hasn't been made, but the former is unlikely to arrive before September or October 2022.
The move to OLED on the iPad Pro could coincide with the first big redesign since late 2018. Apple was originally expected to introduce an updated design language when it switched to mini-LED this year, but leaked CAD-based renders
suggest that isn’t happening.
Long-term, DigiTimes reports that Apple won't completely switch to OLED on its iPad line. Instead, both mini-LED and OLED tech will co-exist, with each type of display being used for a different group of customers.