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2022 OLED iPad plans were abandoned, but may still happen in 2024

2022 OLED iPad plans were abandoned, but may still happen in 2024

Categories: Electronics
Posted: January 11, 2022

A new supply chain report corroborates Ming-Chi Kuo’s assertion that Apple had abandoned plans for an OLED iPad this year, but suggests that discussions with Samsung are ongoing, and that we may see one in 2024.

Both sources stated that the stumbling block was meeting Apple’s demanding quality requirements at a workable price …

Background

We’ve previously summarized the various display technologies, and the uncertainties surrounding Apple’s iPad plans.

Previous-generation iPad Pro displays – as well as current screens for non-Pro models – used IPS LCD panels with conventional LED backlighting.

Current-generation Pro models use IPS LCD screens with miniLED backlighting – that is, a lot more LEDs of a much smaller size to provide more precise control over lit and unlit areas […]

We also know Apple’s longer-term goal is to transition to microLED screens, which has more in common with OLED than backlit LCD.

There are, however, two things we don’t know for sure. One, when we’ll see microLED iPads. This tech is at a rather early stage of development, and is likely to show up first in the Apple Watch. It could be many years before it reaches iPads and MacBooks. 

Two, whether Apple will move directly from miniLED-backlit LCD to microLED screens, or whether it will have OLED models in the interim. The company currently uses OLED for the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Kuo last year said that Apple had been working toward an OLED iPad this year, but had abandoned those plans.

Apple still working on OLED iPad plans

The Elec today confirms the abandonment of earlier plans for an OLED iPad this year but says that Apple is still in discussion with Samsung Display about making screens for an OLED model.

Samsung Display will need an order of substantial volume from Apple to expand its Gen 8.5 (2200x2500mm) IT OLED panels this year […] Samsung Display is developing the technology for Apple to meet their requirements at technology and price for the panels […]

The pair had collaborated on a project to develop a 10.86-inch OLED iPad last year, which was halted during the third quarter. Apple had wanted panels with a two stack tandem structure – where it has two emission layers – instead of the conventional single stack structure.

The panel design Apple wanted would be brighter than a conventional OLED screen, but the report said Samsung couldn’t make these panels at a price the Cupertino company was willing to pay, using its existing manufacturing tech.

But this requirement has made the project financially unviable for Samsung Display as it couldn’t manufacture enough of the panels at the right price, sources said.

A next-generation manufacturing process would solve the problem, but this would require a big investment, and couldn’t make it to market before 2024.

If Samsung Display can secure a large enough order from Apple this time around, it can finalize a spending plan during the second quarter and start ordering needed equipment during the third quarter.

The equipment will then likely be delivered in 2023 – with a commercial iPad sporting an OLED panel expected in 2024.

It’s still not certain that this will happen, as Apple works toward its longer-term goal of microLED, so for now, we’ll need to wait and see.

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