Apple could introduce a redesigned backlighting system to the fifth-generation iPad to help make the device thinner and lighter, according to NDP DisplaySearch. The Cupertino company will have to make significant changes if it is to bring the iPad mini’s sleek and slim form factor to its bigger brother, and this is one of the areas in which it could reduce bulk.
“It’s likely that part of the thinner/lighter design will be reducing the size of the LED backlight, partly by making the display more efficient and partly by using more efficient LEDs,” said NDP analyst Paul Semenza. “The other significant change that we feel is likely is a shift to a film-based touch sensor.”
The 9.7-inch iPad has looked exactly the same since the iPad 2 was launched way back in 2011. However, recent rumors have claimed Apple will rollout a new design for the fifth-generation device — expected later this year — that’ll be inspired by the iPad mini.
In addition to being significantly thinner and lighter, the iPad is also expected to adopt the same narrow form factor, thanks to thinner bezels either side of its display. It’s unclear at this point, however, whether the display technology itself will change in order to accommodate the thinner frame.
“It is not yet clear if there will be a big change to the display — such as using IGZO,” Semenza added.
Sharp’s IGZO displays are currently used in small consumer electronics sold in Japan, but they’ve been rumored to be making their way into Apple devices for the past few years. The advantage they have over LCD displays is that they’re thinner and they consumer less power, while still providing comparable brightness and image quality.
It’s thought the reason why Apple still hasn’t adopted IGZO technology is that Sharp simply cannot product enough to meet the demands of Apple’s fast-selling iOS devices. As soon as that changes, it’s possible we’ll see IGZO displays in at least the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod touch.