I get that I’m talking about a device that is over a year away when the 2019 version hasn’t been released. It hasn’t even been announced. We don’t even know when the announcement event will be yet. Normally I don’t like doing this kind of thing, but I think this particular rumor is interesting to be worth paying attention to.
According to Chin-Yung Fan, president of Apple supplier Epistar, one of their major customers is working on Mini-LED screen technology for tablets, laptops and possibly event smartphones. This news was reported by supply chain watcher DigiTimes. They are a reputable source of supply chain info, but their reports often lack any kind of context. Also, this particular report is pretty vague and does not clearly indicate that Apple is definitely the company being talked about.
However, this isn’t the only recent rumor about Apple’s future iPad Pros. Last week, Ming-Chi Kuo reported the exact same thing. He said that Apple is developing 10″ and 12″ iPad Pros with Mini-LED backlit displays for release next Fall. He also said that new MacBooks with this technology will be available in 2021.
So what is Mini-LED, exactly? First off, don’t confuse it with Micro LED screen technology, which Apple is known to be working on for future use. That tech is still in its infancy, is expensive to produce and will likely show up on the Apple Watch first. I was actually confused about this, at first. Mini-LED is more of a substitute for OLED, offering solid wide color gamut performance, high contrast and dynamic range, and true blacks.
Mini-LED also offers some distinct advantages for Apple. First of all, it allows for thinner devices with better battery life. Second, it will place over 10,000 LEDs on a single tablet screen, which seems insane. Last and most important, this screen technology will allow Apple to be less reliant on Samsung for OLED screens. It also opens up the possibility for Apple to give the iPad and MacBook the benefits of OLED without its drawbacks and expense for larger devices.
The fact that we have two reliable sources reporting on Mini-LED on future iPad Pros makes this potential 2021 iPad Pro development worth talking about now. If the technology is ready for prime time, it could really improve the quality of displays on our Apple tablets while freeing up space and enabling better battery life. However, the potentially bigger news is the price competition it could bring to Apple’s supply chain. If they can move from OLED, which is dominated by Samsung, to a new technology that is produced by multiple vendors, then they have the potential to cut costs and also insure a steady supply of screens with fewer shortages.