Apple to push revolutionary display tech in the 2020 iPad Pro... and it's not microLED

Apple to push revolutionary display tech in the 2020 iPad Pro... and it's not microLED
Last spring, Bloomberg reported that Apple is heavily investing into the development of a so-called microLED display technology, an alternative to both OLED and LCD panels that offers better contrast, higher brightness and lower power consumption than existing screens.

Thus, microLED sprung to fame thanks to reports that Apple has built a facility in California to research it, and eventually start producing its own displays for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Macs of the future. Unfortunately, the technology has been rather tricky to master, and Apple almost gave up on it, but its engineers eventually managed to find viability in the project, and Apple even set up its own lab in Santa Clara where 300 engineers experimented with microLED panels. 

So, when are we likely to see Apple's microLED patents bear fruit in a commercial product? Not soon, but according to famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the company will opt for the bridge miniLED technology instead in an iPad Pro and even a MacBook with microLED panels "between late 2020 and mid 2021." Wait, what the heck is miniLED now?

Since microLED is still extremely tricky and expensive to produce just yet, manufacturers are eventually settling on miniLED as a transitional bridge technology, until microLED proves its bottomline mettle. What's the difference between the two? You guessed it, the mini-LED lighting elements are bigger than the sub-100 micron microLED ones, and yet much smaller than what we have in current displays. They are almost ready for mass production, such a panel would cost just 20% more than your typical backlit LCD, and is conducive to various flexing, notch-y designs that might be needed.


Previously, it was thought that Apple will use its Watch as a testing ground for the new microLED display tech next year. While that might still be the case in 2020, Kuo is now reporting that there will also be bridge miniLED devices coming from Apple. Given the high price of a larger microLED panel, Apple will equip its Pro line of iPad tablets and MacBooks with miniLED first, and then the technology may trickle down to the iPhone, but it won't be before 2021, apparently.

Back to Korea, it will be LG Display to give Apple first dibs at its miniLED displays, with extra suppliers being Epistar, Zhen Ding, Radiant Opto-Electronics, Nichia, Avary Holding, and TSMT - all companies that have been working on miniLED for a while.

In fact, Apple has applied for more than 30 patents on microLED display technology in Korea. Wait, what, isn't that Samsung and LG's home turf? As per Kim Jong-chan, chief of the Korean Intellectual Property Office’s display device screening team: "Apple’s application here appears to be due to the presence of Korean tech firms, including Samsung and LG, which may use Micro-LED panel for their devices in the future." You don't say.

Samsung already showcased a huge microLED TV wall prototype, but mentioned that the panels can potentially be produced with any size and on a much larger scale, paving the way for the potential usage in phone, tablet and laptop displays. 

What's the rush, though, and why are the world's largest phone companies vying for microLED supremacy? Well, as we mentioned, the tech adressed all of the OLED disadvantages in one fell swoop - microLED screens are much brighter, while at the same time consuming less energy to display a unit of luminance, and don't suffer from the blue or any other LED degradation or burn-in issues.

Apple going miniLED for the iPad Pro and MacBook, and microLED for the Watch, would be a step in solving its display supply chain problems with alternative technologies that aren't as monopolized as OLED screens supplied by the likes of Samsung that cost an arm and a leg and eat into the iPhone and Watch profitability. We'd be very curious to gauge how good would an iPad Pro with miniLED panel be, but given that the technology is used in professional gaming and HDR monitors, great specs can be reasonably expected, as you can see from the review of the first such screen in the video here.

FEATURED VIDEO

19 Comments

2. DBozz

Posts: 70; Member since: Sep 19, 2019

MiniLED?!!! It should have been named as milliLED. Does it Sound terrible!? May be they have gone with mini as its size is bigger than a millimeter

17. TBomb

Posts: 1579; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

The prefix milli means one thousandth. So unless it's 1/1000th of something or 1000 is of some significance to it, it wouldn't make sense.

3. strawberry

Posts: 115; Member since: Feb 20, 2019

how about call it TinyLED or BabyLED?

4. saif2711

Posts: 100; Member since: Feb 22, 2016

It's looking good by description.Let's see how much Apple charge its customers for this new tech!

19. vincelongman

Posts: 5728; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

BTW miniLED going replace LCD It's already been happening in monitors and TVs I'd expect to see miniLED in tablets, laptops and mid range phones soon too But miniLED won't replace OLED OLED still offers better image quality OLED probably won't be replaced until microLED is ready

5. sun0066

Posts: 276; Member since: Feb 12, 2011

Another reason for not buy iphone 2019 , like , there was not enough already .

6. darkkjedii

Posts: 31328; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I bought it, tried it for four days, and quickly exchanged it. Awesome camera, but everything else is just iOS. it's also a very buggy OS right now. My wife still has hers, and her emails is broken, she gets random freezes, that then crash back to the homescreen, or reboot the phone, and she has a text issue. We'll be returning, or exchanging hers today.

10. Vancetastic

Posts: 1612; Member since: May 17, 2017

So, the latest update didn't fix stuff?

13. AllPhonesMatter

Posts: 35; Member since: Sep 29, 2019

It's much less buggy now. Updates fixed a lot of early bugs.

12. AllPhonesMatter

Posts: 35; Member since: Sep 29, 2019

Odd. I love my iPhone 11 Pro Max. Best phone on the market. Best battery life and camera out of any smartphone, and best performance.

18. vincelongman

Posts: 5728; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

miniLED may replace the iPhone 11's LCD But miniLED won't replace OLED OLED won'be be replaced until microLED is ready

7. gadgetpower

Posts: 283; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

No wonder why iphone 11 pro is the best display now because apple seems really good in calibration and then let Samsung manufacturer it. Now with this miniled, it will be another breakthrough before microled. Use what is best for now and wait until they perfected the microled before using it.

8. Poptart2828

Posts: 429; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Everyone behold the brilliance that only apple can achieve. Everyone should revel in apple's persistence to excellence.

9. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1579; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Most won't realize you're being sarcastic.

15. Poptart2828

Posts: 429; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Just trying to generalize what the article was saying. Sheesh

11. Iodine

Posts: 1495; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

It is probably because Super retina display is not feasible for MacBooks and iPads for its too high power consumption when displaying pure white. So they Will try something different. We will see how this turns out.

20. Poptart2828

Posts: 429; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

If super retina display is not feasible how about super duper retina display or maybe even sclera mácula retina optical nerve display. That will put Samsung out of business and some dictionaries as well.

16. dumpster666

Posts: 92; Member since: Mar 07, 2019

only $2000 for 64gb

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.